Saturday, September 23, 2023

A SPICE Circuit Optimiser (ASCO)

An open source optimiser for the existing SPICE simulators, ASCO has its codes available under the GNU GPL licence. Designed to address the problems related to electric circuits, ASCO is the result of interaction with experienced designers. -- SNEHA AMBASTHA

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TINA. Though TINA is a design suite for circuit simulation and PCB design, it has in-built circuit optimisation capability apart from analysis, designing and real-time testing of digital, analogue, HDL, MCU and mixed electronics circuits. It has Berkely Spice and XSpice based SPICE simulator engines. It refines the result of a design procedure and tunes the already working circuits.

DELIGHT.SPICE. It is a computer-aided design (CAD) system and a SPICE circuit analysis program with interactive optimisation. It contains the recent and powerful optimisation algorithms along with a methodology for the designers for their intuition and man-machine interaction.

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Utmost IV. It is used to generate accurate and compact models, macro models and Verilog-A models for RF and analogue applications. It simulates as well as optimises any combination of data, including the data values that have been extracted. It supports SPICE simulators HSPICE, SmartSpice, Spectre and Eldo. Utmost IV combines direct extraction and parameter optimisation techniques.

EvoSpice. It is a numerical optimiser for LTSpice IV. It maximises or minimises the circuit behaviour aspects (power dissipation, output amplitude, etc) by automatically selecting the component values. It uses rapid evolution instead of differential evolution and is hundred times faster as compared to the other systems.

A member of electro-tech-online says, “ASCO requires you to compile C code and therefore is a bit difficult to use whereas EvoSpice is available only as a limited free trial. Anyway, both can be used to automatically adjust component values in a simulation, to minimise or maximise some aspect of a circuit’s performance.”

Scope and audience
ASCO requires an experienced circuit designer to select the circuit topology and to find reasonable operating conditions. The fact is that it’s an experienced designer who can define the test benches and measurements to achieve the desired design objectives, define realistic design goals and evaluate the circuit of the proposed sizes to select the most suitable one.

One of the key requirements of using this tool is that, the experienced designer should be well versed with the operation of a SPICE simulator. The designer is expected to at least understand the consequences of each of the assumptions made during optimisation to carry out the optimisation process efficiently.

Surprisingly, despite being an optimiser for the popular simulation tools from SPICE, ASCO has not been much in use! There are some questions regarding the usage of this tool but no reviews to find out how useful this tool has been.

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The author is a technical journalist at EFY. The article is based on the documents available at


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