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Electronic Design

New Electromagnetic Modeling Tool Delivers Rapid Solutions To Escalating Radio And Microwave Design Complexity

Today, Vector Fields launches a major evolution of its high-frequency electromagnetic package, Concerto. Many additions to the electronic design automation (EDA) software — including new and enhanced solvers, sophisticated model parameterization, and an enhanced scripting capability — provide the means to rapidly create and optimize the most complex radio and microwave designs.

"The burgeoning high frequency market has led to escalating design complexity coupled with a severe shortage of skilled designers," says Vector Fields' Kevin Ward. "Concerto's integrated design-simulate-optimize tool allows organizations to reduce costly design iteration cycles, and achieve the optimal solution much faster. It can cut months from the most challenging of projects, from the design of complex microstrip and waveguide devices, to developing portable communications products with multi-band operation or antenna diversity, to understanding signal propagation."

Concerto series 6 offers a comprehensive suite of electromagnetic design capabilities, using powerful geometric modeling to provide 2D and 3D simulation and design optimization.

Component or system models can be imported from CAD programs, or created using a powerful built-in 3D geometric modeller. To speed the design process, a major enhancement is the inclusion of a "parameterized history stream," allowing complete models to be easily modified and replayed. This makes it easy to save portions of code as script-like short cuts for designers who regularly create variations of similar products, such as antennas.

When a design model is ready, users now have a choice of three simulation methods to characterize performance. As standard, Concerto offers a 3D Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) simulator, which has very broad ranging applicability. A 2D FDTD simulator for axisymmetric geometry is available with this release, allowing rotationally symmetric structures such as some horn antennas or coaxial components to be simulated extremely rapidly. A further time-saving feature comes in the form of adaptive meshing, which allows users to use the most efficient mesh resolution for the accuracy of solution required.

Depending on the application, users have two further simulation options. A Method of Moments (MoM) tool provides a very good platform for simulating large environment problems such as installed antenna performance. A comprehensive suite of interactive post processing tools targeted at antenna design has been added in series 6. These include a tool for investigating coupling/immunity between multiple antennas — developed following many user requests and solving a rapidly growing design need.

To this capability, series 6 adds a new Finite Element Method (FEM) tool which provides an elegant means of performing eigenvalue analysis for problems such as characterizing microwave resonator and cavity designs. Together, this selection gives designers the means to choose the best and fastest approach for solving an extremely diverse range of applications.

Design optimization is made even faster by several enhancements. Models can be parameterized using variables, making it simple to perform "what if" investigations. A new version of the package's optimizer tool allows users to set design goals for several parameters simultaneously, and the software will automatically find the best solution to fine-tune performance, cost, real estate or other user-defined characteristics.

An attractive feature of Concerto's simulation and optimization flexibility is the ability to suspend and resume processing at will, and to optimize the computational process. Unique features built into Concerto's core FDTD solver already make it much faster than many other time domain algorithms. Suspend and resume commands allow users to free up their computers during simulation if they need it for other tasks — including an entirely different Concerto design — or "freeze" a run at any stage and transfer it to another computer. The software additionally allows users to multi-thread execution to allow multiple processors to be applied to speed answers.

Multi-physics modeling is becoming increasingly important in designs. Concerto optionally includes coupled thermal FDTD, allowing designers to determine how electromagnetic performance will vary as temperature rises. Series 6 enhances the integration of these disciplines to improve ease of use.

The latest software release also operates with system-level EDA. Users of Applied Wave Research's popular Microwave Office (MWO) software for wireless telecom circuit design can seamlessly call Concerto simulation to characterize critical components in the system model, all from a single user interface.

"We believe this major upgrade of our high frequency EDA software, Concerto, positions us at the leading edge of RF and microwave design," adds Ward. "It provides a platform to slash the time, cost and real estate of high frequency product and system designs. In most cases, the value it generates on the first project will more than recoup the investment."

Concerto series 6 is available immediately for use on Windows platforms. For pricing information, contact your local Vector Fields office.

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