Simulation Software - Electronic Simulation

Electronic Simulation

Electronics simulation software utilizes mathematical models to replicate the behaviour of an actual electronic device or circuit. Essentially, it is a computer program that converts a computer into a fully functioning electronics laboratory. Electronics simulators such as CircuitLogix integrate a schematic editor, SPICE simulator and onscreen waveforms and make “what-if” scenarios easy and instant. By simulating a circuit’s behaviour before actually building it greatly improves efficiency and provides insights into the behavior and stability of electronics circuit designs. Most simulators use a SPICE engine that simulates analog, digital and mixed A/D circuits for exceptional power and accuracy. They also typically contain extensive model and device libraries. While these simulators typically have printed circuit board (PCB) export capabilities, they are not essential for design and testing of circuits, which is the primary application of electronic circuit simulation.

While there are strictly analog electronics circuit simulators, such as LTspice, the most popular simulators on the market, such as Multisim and CircuitLogix, include both analog and event-driven digital simulation capabilities, and are known as mixed-mode simulators. This means that any simulation may contain components that are analog, event driven (digital or sampled-data), or a combination of both. An entire mixed signal analysis can be driven from one integrated schematic. All the digital models in mixed-mode simulators provide accurate specification of propagation time and rise/fall time delays.

The event driven algorithm provided by mixed-mode simulators is general purpose and supports non-digital types of data. For example, elements can use real or integer values to simulate DSP functions or sampled data filters. Because the event driven algorithm is faster than the standard SPICE matrix solution simulation time is greatly reduced for circuits that use event driven models in place of analog models.

Mixed-mode simulation is handled on three levels; (a) with primitive digital elements that use timing models and the built-in 12 or 16 state digital logic simulator, (b) with subcircuit models that use the actual transistor topology of the integrated circuit, and finally, (c) with In-line Boolean logic expressions.

Exact representations are used mainly in the analysis of transmission line and signal integrity problems where a close inspection of an IC’s I/O characteristics is needed. Boolean logic expressions are delay-less functions that are used to provide efficient logic signal processing in an analog environment. These two modeling techniques use SPICE to solve a problem while the third method, digital primitives, use mixed mode capability. Each of these methods has its merits and target applications. In fact, many simulations (particularly those which use A/D technology) call for the combination of all three approaches. No one approach alone is sufficient.

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