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3 Trends in Electronics Design Direct from DesignCon

The ANSYS booth at DesignCon

DesignCon is a great opportunity to speak with electronics designers who are engineering the next generation of high-tech devices.

While there, I had many discussions with the executives, engineers and members of the media that flocked to the ANSYS booth to see our latest innovations. The three most popular topics of conversation were:

  • Electronic reliability.
  • Autonomous vehicles.
  • 5G networks and applications.

Simulation software — ANSYS HFSS, ANSYS SIwave and ANSYS Icepak — can help electronics design engineers bring these essential trends to market.

Engineers are Focusing on Electronic Reliability

DesignCon attendees consistently noted the need to create more reliable electronic devices.

Electrothermal simulation of a 5G network component made using Icepak

The market is demanding that electronic devices be packed with more features in smaller footprints. These features are also being used in harsher environments. Thus, engineers are seeing more component and system failures due to temperature and mechanical stresses.

Electronics design engineers are, therefore, seeking simulation solutions that can predict the electromagnetic-thermal-mechanical interactions within their designs.

Electrical engineers can no longer throw their designs over the wall to the thermal analyst. The electrical design must incorporate some understanding of temperature effects and mechanical phenomena. Otherwise, there will be a near endless back-and-forth between the electrical and mechanical design groups.

The ANSYS electronics solution that couples HFSS and SIwave with ANSYS Icepak garnered a lot interest at DesignCon. This co-simulation capability enables engineers to predict the thermal performance of an electronic design without engaging the thermal/mechanical engineer until later in the design process. This dramatically reduces the time to market.

Other Reliability Tools for Electronic Design Engineers

While on the topic of electronics reliability, engineers at DesignCon were also interested in ANSYS’ electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electromigration tools.

Results from an electromigration analysis

EMI can cause everything from annoying noises to the complete failure of a device. Engineers need reliability tools to predict and mitigate the effects of EMI on their designs.

Electromigration, on the other hand, is the transport of material caused by the gradual movement of ions in a conductor. Since trends are forcing electronic devices to increase their current densities and decrease their form factor, failures caused by electromigration are becoming more of a concern.

As a result, ANSYS has released new features to help engineers predict both EMI and electromigration. They are:

  • EMI Scanner — a tool that detects deviations from EMI best practices before resources are spent on full-blown simulations.
  • Electromigration analysis — simulations that predict mean time to failure for a component, based on the current and temperature.

Autonomous Vehicles Need Safe Electronics Designs

Autonomous vehicle design was another hot topic at DesignCon.

Radar simulation of a busy intersection

One day, many of us will be handing our driving tasks to computers. The safety of these autonomous vehicles will be the No. 1 concern of the engineers who design them. To meet these safety goals, engineers will need to create vehicle guidance systems that rely on electronic devices, vehicle-to-vehicle communications and sensors.

The components of these autonomous vehicle guidance systems will, include:

  • Stereo cameras.
  • Radar.
  • Proximity sensors.
  • Signal processors.
  • Network communications.

Engineers will need to use simulation tools to safely assess these autonomous vehicle guidance components before testing them in the real world.

HFSS can simulate the performance of onboard radar antennas and RF proximity sensors. The ANSYS HFSS SBR+ solver can take the results and compute the performance of a proximity sensor that is installed on an autonomous vehicle. In short, engineers can use these simulations to better understand the interaction between autonomous vehicles and people, buildings and other vehicles.

5G Networks and Applications Call for the Overhaul of Electronics Designs

Electrothermal vector plot of a 5G network component

Electronics design engineers at DesignCon were also interested in developing 5G networks and applications.

Designing a product to keep up with the capacity and higher frequency of 5G networks will require a lot of redesign.

For instance, engineers will need to develop smaller antennas, semiconductors and other wireless communication components to get these products off the ground.

Similar to autonomous vehicles, HFSS, SIwave and Icepak will be instrumental in designing 5G products. ANSYS’ Pervasive Engineering Simulation will help engineers test designs before they move on to costly physical prototypes. As a result, simulation will save 5G design teams millions of dollars.

To learn more ways in which ANSYS helps electronics design engineers, read what’s new in the ANSYS 2019 R1 release.