Sparking a Revolution

By ANSYS Advantage staff

Over a 30-year career, Ed Godshalk has pioneered some of the high-tech industry’s most important product development and testing techniques. He has a long history of using simulation for microwave and electronics design. Here, Godshalk discusses the historic role of engineering simulation — and looks toward a future in which simulation will make even greater contributions.

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Engineering simulation created the foundation for the incredible gains we have realized in electronics performance and the impressive degree of innovation we have witnessed in the high-tech industry.


Since his career began in the early 1980s, Ed Godshalk has always had a dual focus: designing higher-performing electronics components and systems, while also developing the underlying test and measurement tools and processes that enable true product innovation. He has pioneered a number of measurement methods and systems for product development that have helped shape the modern high-tech industry. For example, while at Cascade Microtech in 1990, Godshalk designed the world’s first waveguide input wafer probe, which covered V-band (50 GHz to 75 GHz), and later W-band (75 GHz to 110 GHz). This enabled development of early millimeter-wave integrated circuits.

Today, Godshalk is a distinguished member of the technical staff and director of the Electromagnetics Group at Maxim Integrated, one of the largest analog semiconductor manufacturers in the world. He manages an expert staff charged with developing advanced models and measurements necessary for Maxim to introduce advanced products. These products are used by leaders in mobility and consumer products such as Samsung; major automakers in Asia, North America and Europe; medical device manufacturers; and large search engine and social media companies.

Recently, Godshalk shared his perspective on simulation, as well as his view from the front lines of the high-tech industry’s ongoing battle to combine high product quality with low cost and speed to market. While virtual product development practices first revolutionized the high-tech industry 30 years ago, Godshalk believes that the future holds even greater potential for high-tech engineering teams to leverage value from simulation-driven product development.

You have a long history of using simulation in the high-tech industry. How did it change your work as an electrical engineer?

It’s impossible to overstate the value that engineering simulation brought to the table 30 years ago. In the early 1980s, the standard way to design microwave circuits was via graphs, equations and a lot of complex math. This was the situation when I was a student and young engineer. Often the only way to test those systems was to physically construct large-scale physical models, which were expensive, unwieldy and heavy. One example, made in aluminum, weighed more than 300 pounds! When I began using microwave circuit simulation in the mid-1980s and HFSS 1.0 to simulate full-wave electromagnetic fields in the 1990s, it was a true game-changer. Suddenly, there was software that could not only automate and accelerate all the complicated math involved in systems design, but also support rapid virtual prototyping and testing. Simulation software was such a powerful tool that it increased the productivity of development staff involved in electromagnetic simulation problems by something like 10 times. Engineering simulation really created the foundation for the incredible gains we have realized in electronics performance. It laid the groundwork for the impressive degree of innovation we have witnessed in the high-tech industry. Simulation removed the obstacles to fast, confident, cost-effective product innovation. It eliminated the time and money wasted on tedious, trial-and-error circuit testing. It changed everything.

How does engineering simulation add value for your team at Maxim Integrated today?

There is strong consumer demand for increased functionality of electronic devices and connectivity. At Maxim, we help our customers offload some of their engineering costs by reducing part counts. That means placing more and more functionality into each of our systems, while maintaining or even reducing their physical profile and cost. But this raises complex issues. How will signal integrity be affected when functions reside so close together? Will thermal build-up be a problem? A suite of ANSYS software — including HFSSSIwaveMaxwell and Q3D Extractor — helps to understand the trade-offs and maximize system performance. Today, engineering simulation is an even more vital capability than it was 30 years ago. ANSYS helps with understanding and solving today’s advanced development challenges.

ANSYS helps with understanding and solving today’s advanced development challenges.

What changes have you seen in simulation software and practices over the years?

As our design challenges have become more complex, fortunately both software and hardware have evolved to help meet these new challenges. In terms of software, ANSYS solutions are much more integrated today, making it easier to bring multiple tools to bear on a single design problem. ANSYS software is also more comprehensive. When you consider the complexity of designing and packaging an electronic system, it’s really impressive that ANSYS software can support that full development cycle.

Maxim Integrated engineer
Engineers at Maxim Integrated must place more and more functionality into each system, while maintaining or even reducing their physical profile and cost. The company uses the suite of ANSYS electronics software to understand the trade-offs and maximize system performance.

In the area of best practices, a great impact resulted from the introduction of high-performance computing (HPC) resources — and the simultaneous launch of simulation software that’s customized for HPC environments. At Maxim, we’re focused on high-complexity, numerically large design projects. ANSYS HPC Packs and multi-core processors help improve time to market. We run quite a few eight-core processors and even a 32-core processor. Engineering simulation has enabled the development of faster computers, which in turn have enabled larger, faster simulations. It’s really a closed-loop process that keeps making our electronics simulation capabilities better and better.

You mentioned cost control as a priority for your customers. What other challenges do they face?

Some of the biggest challenges in the high-tech industry center on power — harvesting it, converting it, storing it and using it more effectively. To make futuristic product ideas — like wearable electronics — practical, the development of radically new power technologies that maximize efficiency, while minimizing impacts on the environment, will be important. 

Product miniaturization is also a huge focus for our customers because consumers want their phones, tablets and other technologies to be as small as possible without losing any functionality. Our customers also are trying to increase data transfer speed and bandwidth — again, to meet consumer needs for uninterrupted content. Connectivity and signal integrity are related consumer concerns that our customers focus on.

While these are daunting challenges, the good news is that ANSYS software and simulation-driven product development can help us overcome them. Simulation allows us to study all these problems in depth and arrive at optimized solutions.

IC die package simulation
S-parameter model for IC die in package on PCB

How would you describe your relationship with ANSYS over the past three decades?

I was an early customer of Ansoft (the company that developed HFSS and is now part of ANSYS), and today Maxim Integrated leverages a wide range of ANSYS solutions. I think that gives me a unique perspective. ANSYS solutions have always been very intuitive and easy to use, and the graphical user interface just keeps improving. It’s very easy for new users to get up and running. The company also has great customer support. My team and I have had a strong, collaborative relationship with both ANSYS customer service staff and software developers over the years. 

I have observed that ANSYS has done a great job at keeping up with trends in the high-tech industry. When we needed to model larger systems or work in an HPC environment, ANSYS had the software tools ready. As the job of electrical engineers has evolved, the software company has been right there with us in terms of technology development. 

In the future, our industry is going to produce all kinds of high-tech electronic innovations. I firmly believe that ANSYS software will significantly contribute to their development.