What’s New in SPICE?

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Hany Elhak, senior product marketing manager at Synopsys, says, “HSPICE is used extensively in standard cell libraries, mixed-signal ICs, and signal integrity analysis of high-speed packages and boards. The leading performance of HSPICE is the result of 30 years of innovation in simulation and analysis algorithms optimised for multicore and distributed computing. As the industry moves to 16-nanometre processes, HSPICE is ready with the industry’s fastest and most accurate FinFET support, offering BSIM-CMG models with simulation speed comparable to that of planar CMOS.”

For full-chip mixed-signal verification, CustomSim is tightly coupled with Synopsys’ VCS functional verification solution and CustomExplorer Ultra mixed-signal verification environment, providing a high-performance, advanced mixed-signal simulation, and regression debug and analysis solution.

PSpice
Cadence’ PSpice is a full-featured, native analogue and mixed-signal circuit simulator. Used in conjunction with PSpice A/D, PSpice Advanced Analysis tools help designers improve yield and reliability of their designs. The term ‘PSpice’ is an acronym for ‘personal simulation program with integrated circuit emphasis.’

Initially developed by MicroSim, PSpice is used in electronic design automation. MicroSim was bought by OrCAD, which was subsequently purchased by Cadence Design Systems.

PSpice has evolved into an analogue mixed-signal simulator. The software, now developed towards more complex industry requirements, is integrated in the complete system design flow in OrCAD and Cadence Allegro. It includes features such as circuit analysis with automatic optimisation, encryption, model editor, support for parametrised models, auto-convergence and checkpoint restart, several internal solvers, magnetic part editor, and Tabrizi core model support for non-linear cores.

PSpice simulates complex mixed-signal designs containing both analogue and digital parts. It supports a wide range of simulation models such as IGBTs, pulse-width modulators, digital-to-analogue converters and analogue-to-digital converters.

“Its built-in mathematical functions and behavioural modelling techniques enable fast and accurate simulation of designs with efficient debugging. PSpice A/D also allows users to design and generate simulation models for transformers and DC inductors. Scalability options include PSpice Advanced Analysis capabilities and integration with MathWorks MATLAB Simulink for co-simulation,” explains Madhavi Rao, senior marketing manager, Cadence.

Advanced capabilities such as temperature and stress analysis, electro-mechanical simulation, worst-case analysis, Monte Carlo analysis, and curve-fit optimisers are also available. This helps engineers design high-performance circuits that are reliable and can withstand parameter variation.

TINA-TI
TINA is a Spice-based circuit simulator that can do circuit DC, AC, transient, Fourier and noise analysis. TINA-TI is a simple version of TINA with full circuit simulation functionality but less circuit development utilities in the package. It also contains more TI device models and TI part information.

TINA-TI is ideal for designing, testing and troubleshooting a wide variety of basic and advanced circuits, including complex architectures, without any node or number of device limitations.

So even though SPICE has not gone over version 3, it has encouraged development through the Open Source forum. Companies that develop their proprietary version of SPICE have ensured that it never really dies off.

To sum up
SPICE simulation has been used for over thirty years to accurately predict the behaviour of electronic circuits. Over the years, additional simulation algorithms, component models, bug fixes and other capabilities were added to the program. Besides these improvements, additions to the language have allowed simulation and modelling of more complex integrated circuits including MOSFETs. Moreover, numerous commercial versions of SPICE are now available. Even today SPICE is one of the most widely used circuit simulators in the world.


The author is a tech correspondent at EFY Bengaluru

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