outlined the need for EDA companies to actively support a module platform design flow. Module design houses and manufacturing companies are experiencing the pain of inadequate EDA tools and, without resolution, this will stifle the growth and development of this technology.
Module design requires an integrated and interactive design environment that can handle the physical layout of ICs and PCBs to ensure productive and efficient use of design resources. A key requirement for the module platform design technology is the ability to interactively design components in multiple descriptions simultaneously, and to understand upfront the impact of interconnect.
Figure 3 -- MCM spiral inductor
Because RF and high-frequency design requires a tightly coupled interaction between physical descriptions and electrical models, the ideal design suite is built upon an object-orie nted database that enables design elements to be described, visualized, simulated, and analyzed using electrical, physical, and logical views. For example, Applied Wave Research's Microwave Office software provides a single design environment where the RF engineer can create, modify, simulate, and analyze a spiral inductor using a physical layout and an electrical model based on electromagnetic simulation.
AWR has also created process design kits (PDKs) for leading LTCC foundries. These PDKs have been validated on designs such as the complete receiver in Figure 4. Embedded passives (R, C, L) have been created that enable the designer to create continuous configurations of length, width, spacing, and turns (spiral inductor). This design includes multiple ICs from various process technologies, discrete SMDs, and embedded passives.
Figure 4 -- Receiver MCM design
The module platform provides a compel ling alternative to the current SoC trend of single IC integration and is verified by the successful design and layout of complex RF MCMs.
Mark Rencher is president of Applied Wave Research.
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