Arvind Krishnan

There has been a proliferation of high-speed, high-frequency electronics placed in today’s smart connected products over the past few years. This increases the need for electromagnetic (EM) simulation in design. Ansys HFSS, a 3D high-frequency simulation software, meets the industry’s stringent demands. Simulation Overcomes Challenges in Designing Smart, Connected Products Today’s smart, connected products are …

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Ansys HFSS Plays a Key Role in Designing Smart Connected Products

There has been a proliferation of high-speed, high-frequency electronics placed in today’s smart connected products over the past few years. This increases the need for electromagnetic (EM) simulation in design. Ansys HFSS, a 3D high-frequency simulation software, meets the industry’s stringent demands.

Simulation Overcomes Challenges in Designing Smart, Connected Products

Today’s smart, connected products are everywhere and they increasingly rely on modern electronics to function properly. Examples of these electronic components include integrated circuit (IC) packages, printed circuit boards (PCBs), wireless communication devices, etc. These electronic components are integral to modern communication systems, Internet of Things (IoT) systems, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and complex products we haven’t even conceived of yet. 

Many of these products require a plethora of different sensors and antennas to communicate sensor readings wirelessly. Some also incorporate embedded software that will need to be updated remotely to stay current. Designing products with these high-speed, high-frequency electronics presents a variety of challenges.

  • Shrinking budgets and timelines: Traditionally, the design-to-manufacturing process for high-speed, high-frequency electronics involved prototyping and testing. Today, electronics engineers may no longer practice these phases of design due to time and costs. Instead, they must find ways to get their designs right on virtual platforms. 
  • Need for multi-physics simulations: As the communication industry moves toward 5G, which is several orders of magnitude more complex than 4G, there is an inescapable need for multi-physics simulations involving EM, heat transfer, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD).
  • More computing resources: Simulation and design optimization of complex products and systems require greater computing resources.

Ansys HFSS helps engineers overcome these challenges. This post discusses the capabilities of this simulation solution, highlights its benefits, and details how it addresses common obstacles in the design of modern high-speed, high-frequency electronics.

A Quick Introduction to Ansys HFSS

Let’s start by reviewing the capabilities of Ansys HFSS. It is a 3D EM simulation software that uses finite element analysis (FEA) as its underlying technology. The software assists in the design and simulation of high-frequency electronic products like antennas, passive radio frequency, microwave components, integrated circuit packages, and printed circuit boards, just to name a few. 

Ansys HFSS has an advanced solver that incorporates an automated solution process based on the specific geometry and material properties of your system. This tool allows design engineers to simulate 3D full-wave electric and magnetic fields and ensure that products will work as intended. This kind of simulation is essential in the design of today’s—and tomorrow’s—high-frequency, high-speed electronics.

Now that you know what Ansys HFSS is, let’s look at how it can help address some of the common challenges faced by today’s product development teams.

Accuracy in Ansys HFSS

When your virtual design has to go to production with minimal prototyping and testing, there’s little room for error. You must be certain that the design meets all requirements, even if it’s for a complex product or system. With minimal to no prototypes or tests in the schedule, your simulation results need to be impeccable. How might a tool like Ansys HFSS, which uses FEA, ensure that level of accuracy?

A critical step in FEA is meshing. The size, density, and quality of the mesh elements will determine the accuracy of your results. So, to get things right, your engineers need a thorough understanding of how finite element mesh works, as well as strong domain knowledge in EM. 

This is a big ask. Most engineers don’t know a lot about FEA or best practices for using it. But Ansys HFSS’ adaptive mesh technology addresses that problem. No matter what mesh you start with, the program will give you exact results because it refines the mesh automatically until accuracy is achieved. All engineers have to do is define the operating inputs and conditions under which the product needs to function.

Bottom line: Accurate mesh ensures accurate results. Ansys HFSS’ adaptive mesh technology allows engineers to go from design straight into production.

Managing Complexity in Ansys HFSS

We just saw how Ansys HFSS tackles the challenge of accuracy. Now let’s focus on how this software can help you meet complex design requirements.

Ansys HFSS is connected to a diverse ecosystem of other Ansys products through Ansys Workbench. Ansys Workbench enables bidirectional communication between different software applications, including all major computer-aided design (CAD) systems. 

This means that your design team can perform multi-physics simulations based on the HFSS results. Engineers can study the EM aspects of their designs and extend those findings to see how they may impact heat transfer and cooling. This is critical when designing for 5G, as increasing power densities have made cooling a fundamental design challenge for more complex connected products.

HPC and Cloud Computing with Ansys HFSS

Finally, today’s smart, connected products are large and complex. Designing and simulating such systems is a serious challenge. Some engineers may try to simplify real-world designs in pursuit of quick results as they work on individual components, but this approach comes at great risk. Too often, such shortcuts mean that engineers are compromising accuracy. But in an environment where companies are moving directly from design to production, accuracy is absolutely crucial to success. 

To obtain simulation results more quickly without simplifying the model, engineers can leverage high-performance computing (HPC) or a cloud approach. In fact, as designs grow more and more complex, HPC and cloud technologies become indispensable. Ansys HFSS allows engineers to do their solving on an onsite HPC cluster or over the cloud. The cloud version of Ansys HFSS is universally accessible via a web browser.

Summary and Takeaways

Ansys HFSS, a 3D EM simulation software, can help engineers take products from design straight to production more easily. Ansys HFSS can help address many of today’s product development challenges by maintaining accuracy in solution, managing complexity even in this new 5G era, easily interfacing with most CAD programs, and leveraging high-performance computing and cloud capabilities for the large simulations required for complex systems.

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