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Analog ASIC design - what tools to use?

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Member level 4
Dec 31, 1999
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analog asic tools

Is anybody work with analog ASICs ?
What is the best CAD tools dedicated
for this application, if any ?

thanx in advance

Agilent's ADS is the most famous CAD for analog and mix signal design.

C*dence's analog design tools may help you a lot.

Cadence is the best if you spent a lot of learning time to design real circuits. It supplies you with a complete solution if the designkit for the target technology is complete also. If you want to do analog circuit design only, w/o layout backannotation and further complex tools it is better to use DesignLab, Microcap, Orcad, Multisim or other integrated tools on PC.

Is Cadence s/w is only used on Unix based system? Is there any way around this? Does it work on Linux?

It makes it hard for regular ppl to learn/use except if you work for big corp.

i hear your pain. But let me rejoin with this:

1) in several months, Cadence is going to come out with a package (for the analog-mixed signal/layout side) that displays everything in Unix, but actually runs the core( spectre) on a linux machine of your choice.
2) The previous is a prelude to a complete switch-over to linux within(hopefully) a year.
3) Hmmm, didn't you know that you can buy a Sun Workstation fully loaded for about $700 on E-bay?

hmm, tempting, i not know that suns where so low priced

Thanks electronlover for very useful information.

$700 Sun workstation fully loaded is very tempting, is it a fairly new system? If it is, I will say adios to my PC.

Try Tanner , it is pc version.
I think it is easy , and useful for some design.

Interesting to hear that Cadence first port Spectre to Linux. The sparc engines are running out of steam and could not follow AMD/Intel. That could be the reason to port first Spectre. Spectre was a fresh tool at 1992 with e.g. good DC algorithms at that time. But now every other have these built in and complete new spice method are in production. Try Hsim, it is running everywhere and for analog 3-10x faster than spectre on the same platform.

of all sim tools spectre has best convergence

I'm assume you guys are talking about Cadence IC 4.xx. I'm not sure if this tool will ever be ported over to linux unless there is strong customer demand. Usually, the only tools that make sense to port are the ones that require a scaling to a large compute farm such as verilog simulators, RC extractors, etc. IC 4.xx does not require a compute farm. Customers are more concerned with stability and 64bit support for large databases and thus Solaris is a good choice. Also consider that the tool can cost around $300,000 (USD) depending on your options. Thus the few thousand dollars you can save on the computer is nothing. It's a rounding error.

Analog Design: HSPICE is good.
hsim + hspice: better

try to find hsim in file manager under archun<DIR>.

Hi Jaz,

the $ number for spectre alone is a little high but the price of a machine is indeed minor. But for projects running some months simulation times of weeks are unacceptable. So if spectre is ported to a 2.2GHz instead of 950MHz it makes really sense. And transient analog simulations does not requires much memory. They need speed, speed, speed!

question what kind of analog design youare going to?
situation 1 up to 300MHz including linear amp I recomend MICROCAP reason is htey have alot of samples (I am using it several GHZ area but not so happy)
situation 2 GHz area design I recomend to use
ADS its fine but expensive.And when you design antennas you use momentum its very slow.
situation 3 A to D converters area HSPICE is defact standard but PSPICE or other spice is good including WINSPICE(free but based on BURKLEY engine)
situation 4 if you need seamless design from sckematic to layout youmay use CADENCE it require huge cost but easy to use.

I find eldo more accurate and faster than HSPICE. But only UNIX even not linux.


You can use the HSPICE or Cadence tools , but these tools only help you decrease error , if you want to design a good analog ASIC , must to learn more experience

I personally think ADS is the best tool -

(1) It is the 'industry' standard for RF/Analogue design.

(2) You can run time domain (eg Spice) and frequency domain simulations.

(3) As most ASIC design consists of bipolars or CMOS (or both) then these can easily be modelled using the non-linear active device models so that you can say build up an op-amp or gilbert-cell mixer etc.

(4) You can simulate oscillators to predict harmonics, output power and importantly phase noise.

(5) Small circuits can be linked together at a higher level and simulated.

(6) Probably the most important - you can do system's analysis - with complex digital modulation schemes etc - each circuit function can then be one of your 'building blocks'

(7) ADS runs on a PC and is easier to get hold of...

I get the 'impression' that Cadence tools are a bit old fashioned and now there is a link to ADS through a partnership.You certainly can't do system level design in Cadence....

i try ads before, it is much different from most tools. look powerful, but i not understand it well. if you have any tutorial or tip i would appreciate! :smile:

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