Collaboration to simplify next-generation semiconductor and RF development

2 min read

Cadence Design Systems and NI have announced a broad-ranging collaboration to improve the overall semiconductor development and test process of next-generation wireless, automotive and mobile integrated circuits (ICs) and modules.

The two companies are to integrate key design tool technologies into a common user environment to improve the design, analysis and testing of analogue, RF and digital ICs and system-in-package (SiP) modules spanning from pre-silicon design to volume production test.

Cadence has also launched a new Virtuoso RF Solution, which enables RF engineers to design, implement and analyse entire RF modules and RFICs from within the Virtuoso custom IC design platform.

Traditionally, each major stage in the IC development process has operated in isolation supported by a dedicated set of design tools, models, languages and data formats, which can cause design failures due to the manual translation of data between numerous tools. To address this, the RFIC and RF module design flow, Cadence is providing new capabilities within the new Virtuoso RF solution. These include:

RFIC and RF Module co-design: Provides a robust design environment enabling simultaneous editing of multiple ICs on a complex RF module while streamlining design to manufacturing tasks

Single “golden” schematic: Offers schematic-driven layout implementation, EM analysis and simulation and physical verification checks of RFIC and RF module design through a single schematic source, reducing design failures

Smart electromagnetic (EM) simulation interface: Includes an integration between the Cadence Sigrity PowerSI 3D EM Extraction Option and the Virtuoso RF Solution, which automates hours of manual work required to run critical passive component and interconnect EM simulations so users can run multiple in-design experiments

As part of the collaboration, the Cadence interface has been extended to include an integration with the AXIEM 3D planar EM simulator, within the Virtuoso RF Solution design environment. The AXIEM software is able to address passive structures, transmission lines, large planar antenna and patch array problems with more than 100,000 unknowns, providing accuracy, capacity and speed engineers need to ensure design integrity upon the first attempt. It incorporates NI’s proprietary full-wave planar Method of Moments (MoM) technology that enables discrete- and fast-frequency sweeps.

The integrated Cadence and NI EM solutions will equip engineers with a variety of EM analysis methods for designing RFICs and RF modules.

Compatible models are critical to ensuring correlated results across different simulation tools. Cadence and NI are jointly working to deliver common transistor models, ensuring consistent simulation behaviour of gallium arsenide (GaAs), gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon transistor models between Microwave Office circuit design software and the Cadence Spectre simulation platform.

“With customers beginning to design the next generation of RF products there's a need to deliver a comprehensive RF solution that creates more efficiencies and drives innovation,” said Tom Beckley, senior vice president and general manager in the Custom IC & PCB Group at Cadence. “Based on the Virtuoso custom IC design platform, the Cadence Virtuoso RF Solution looks to streamline design and analysis for RFIC and RF modules. The collaboration between Cadence and NI and the integration of our tools can enable customers to seamlessly analyse and simulate their chip and package, reducing design cycle time and improving quality of results.”

The new Virtuoso RF Solution with the integrated AXIEM 3D planar EM solver technology will be sold and supported exclusively by Cadence.