CARY, NC — Designers of RF (radio-frequency) MEMS subsystems and other complex products need a 3D visualization capability that realistically models the behavior of the disparate technologies incorporated in their designs, says Coventor, Inc., the leading developer of MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) design-automation software. That’s because 3D visualization is the most intuitive and fastest way to achieve greater functionality, smaller size and faster time-to-market for cell phones, PDAs and other products that integrate digital, analog and RF circuitry with mechanical parts.
“For complex subsystems such as RF MEMS, ease of design within multiple physical domains has become essential, and the goal now is fast, accurate virtual prototyping of the system,” said Dr. Josephus van Kuijk, Coventor’s Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. “This contrasts with the traditional approach, where mechanical, electrical and other specialists complete their portion of a design and hand it off to the next person. It’s hard to get the system designed correctly that way, and if you have to actually build it to see if it works, it’s slow to market, too. This is especially true with products incorporating RF MEMS, because analog design is tricky in itself, and what is RF MEMS but high-speed analog with the added burden of integrated mechanical parts used as filters, switches, varactors and other components.”
Jonathan Hammond, Staff Design Engineer for MEMS Technology Development at RFMD, is using the tools in a project to develop an improved RF MEMS switch for cell phone RF front-ends. He said, “The tools allow us to more accurately predict the dynamic electromechanical behavior of our MEMS switches. Without this capability, we are left with cruder or much more labor-intensive and costly means to acquire the same information, such as actually building devices and taking measurements. The visualization from the Scene3D enhancement is essential, in that it takes important but hard-to-decipher information from the powerful Architect behavioral models and displays it in an intuitive way, so that we can literally see what’s happening.”
He continued, “For example, we can see how the mechanical elements of our switches relate to each other–how they contact, bounce, and vibrate, versus the conditions we apply. We are then able to adjust the mechanical design or the electrical input stimulus from control circuitry to optimize critical performance parameters. Before Scene3D, we used to have to surgically extract data from Architect output files–a bit like looking at every square inch of a painting through a magnifying glass–and then try to put all of the pieces together to see the painting. Now with Scene3D, we can see it all at once.”
ARCHITECT is part of the CoventorWare suite of software tools for MEMS and micro-fluidic design, modeling and simulation. The suite consists of ARCHITECT for creating, modeling and simulating the design, DESIGNER for 3D solid modeling, ANALYZER for simulating coupled physical fields, and INTEGRATOR for extracting reduced-order models for integration with standard mixed-signal simulators.