EDA Software Recommendations
Long time fan, first time poster. Let me take the opportunity to thank everyone for this awesome site, I've learned a lot from here.
I'm fresh out of school, where I was heavily bombarded with ADS usage. Unfortunately, my student license is about to run out and I'm looking for an alternative to use for work. I build power amplifiers @ approx 1 kW, filters, combiners, couplers etc. in the LF,HF, and VHF range. I do occasional transmission line design and need a good EM simulator to match.
I'm looking at Keysight's Genesys; anyone have any thoughts on it? It seems like more of a system level (as opposed to a circuit level) tool, but I'm not sure. Any other realistic alternatives? Really looking for an alternative to the 100k price tag attached to ADS, especially since I don't do any MMIC/RFIC design.
Thanks for your consideration!
Have you looked at Microwave Office with Axiem? I was forced to switch from ADS, nine years ago, now I don't want to go back. It may be cheaper; I don;t get involved with pricing.
Does anyone have an opinion on what the best shareware is for a retired microwave engineer? Asking for a friend...
Free you say? Ah, well now...
Although at work I'm spoiled by access to the like usual suspects, MWO, Axiem, Analyst, HFSS, Cadence Allegro etc there are a couple open-source GPL licensed tools that are worth a look:
Qucs - does Spice-like things, S-parameter stuff, harmonic balance and a touch of ADS about some aspects of the interface:
- if you're not wanting to call up Modelithics libraries or foundry PDKs it's not bad.
openEMS - EM solver based on FDTD, C++ solver back-end, Octave/Matlab front-end:
- has some nice examples to get you going.
If you're going completely 'off-grid' with your EDA tools, then there's at least one effort to make PCB footprints for the open-source PCB tool KiCad from openEMS simulation structures.
I've used openEMS as yet-another-simulator-method to check something I had in HFSS. There is a bit of a learning curve but retired engineers have plenty of free time, right?
I'd also recommend Microwave Office. I've been using it for 20 years for board level RF design (antennas, PA) and system level stuff using the VSS product. The base product is linear simulation and layout, then you'd probably want harmonic balance and Axiem for planar EM. I have been using Analyst a lot for antennas, though unless you are doing 3D structures, you can probably just use Axiem if everything is on a PCB.
I agree about recommending MWO, been using it for nine years. All good except the VSS product still confuses me, so I am gonna try out Genesys.
Any other realistic alternatives? Really looking for an alternative to the 100k price tag attached to ADS.
just need to read the intro documentation on VSS. It's very powerful, but need to get your head wrapped around the whole analytic signal method and try some experiments. It makes good sense since you separate out the carrier and envelope. Though VSS is more than time-domaim, real and analytic signals. The cascade budget analysis and RF inspector are great. With the latter, you can pinpoint the sources of all the intermods through multiple conversion chains.
MWO, no question. If you are involved in PA design then I would recommend it. I also don't get involved in pricing but I was told not so long ago that MWO is cheaper than ADS. I think the standard EMSIGHT [on grid EM engine] is now part of the MWO package now [check this directly] and we got very accurate model versus measurement with that for <6GHz discrete PA designs. Although I wasn't involved in filter design directly, we also got very good suspended substrate design results well above 6GHz with EMSIGHT alone. If you want to upgrade to an off-grid solver then add AXIEM, which is very much like MOMENTUM in ADS. Like any tool though, these things are just calculators and whilst I don't dispute accuracy between the packages it really depends on the users ability at being able to develop models that are an accurate representation of the physical and also understanding the limits of those models which they construct. However, where MWO wins hands down is its ease of working with complex design tasks, specifically the load pull tools
are a dream to use. I still cannot believe how poorly ADS has been thought out, specifically with respect to amplifier design, it suffers from a very outdated GUI / file / library system that is quite possibly the most frustrating thing I have ever encountered. Like MWO, you can customize ADS heavily for specific tasks but it comes at the expense of having to almost finish the CAE development job for them and you get bogged down with a very messy syntax system. I really don't want to have to write a few lines of equation to simply plot constant Q circles on a smith chart. Ultimately, I find ADS just gets in the way of my creativity and I feel more like a programmer than a designer for much of the time I work with it. I'm also not the first to raise these points. ADS..... You could learn tonnes from the MWO boys and girls.
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