Recently, quite a few companies have teamed up to quicken the radio-frequency design flow. An example is the recent partnering of National Instruments (http://ni.com) and Ansoft Corp. (www.ansoft.com). These companies have merged the Ansoft Designer high-frequency electronic-design software with National Instruments' LabVIEW 7 Express virtual-instrumentation software. In doing so, they have extended the simulation of conventional RF system designs.
At the heart of this union is a new application programming interface (API), which integrates Ansoft Designer and NI LabVIEW (see figure). Thanks to this API, design engineers can easily incorporate real-world measurements into their RF and wireless-system design flow. They can then accelerate the model development and system validation of complex RF and mixed-signal systems.
Before this partnership, engineers could create and simulate RF and microwave system designs using Ansoft's simulation products and its circuit, system, and electromagnetic modeling. Now, LabVIEW and Ansoft Designer can share data via the new LabVIEW data-exchange tools. These tools were made for interfacing with standard Touchstone RF data files. For design engineers, the addition of LabVIEW provides access to a wide variety of measurement I/O ranging from vector network analyzers to modular RF instruments.
Thanks to this partnership, designers can now generate real-world stimuli and take real-world measurements. By comparing their measured results with simulation data, engineers can identify design flaws at an earlier stage. This advantage should greatly improve time to market. It also could improve the quality of the communications technologies used in cell phones, cable modems, PDAs, and other wireless devices.
A set of example programs for integrating LabVIEW and Ansoft Designer is available for download at http://ni.com/design. The LabVIEW data-exchange tools for integrating with Ansoft Designer work with both LabVIEW 7 Express and LabVIEW 6.1.