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Capitalize on EDA When Developing MIMO, Phased-Array Antenna Systems, Part 1 (.PDF Download)

Aug. 10, 2017
Capitalize on EDA When Developing MIMO, Phased-Array Antenna Systems, Part 1 (.PDF Download)

Phased-array antennas are becoming a popular solution in a variety of applications, with new active electronically scanned arrays (AESAs) finding their way into automotive driver assist systems, satellite communications, advanced radar, and more. The complexity and cost issues associated with developing communications systems based on phased-array antennas are being addressed through new functionalities in electronic-design-automation (EDA) software.

EDA tools support designers by providing them with the means to develop new system architectures and component specifications, as well as implement the physical design of individual components and verify performance prior to prototyping. This first part of a two-part series discusses these trends and presents recent advances in EDA tools for phased-array-based systems.

Phased-Array Primer

Electronically steered antennas are an array of individual radiating elements with phase and amplitude controlled either digitally through analog/RF components, or by using hybrid techniques to control beam direction without the need to physically move the antenna. By controlling phase and amplitude of the input signal to the individual elements, one can achieve steerable directivity of the antenna beam over both azimuth and elevation. Design considerations for an AESA radar system include the individual radiating elements (antenna design), the RF link budget of the feed network that is directly tied to component performance (e.g., insertion losses and impedance mismatch), and the array itself.

Given the complexity of the task, design groups need a system-aware approach that enables team members to explore phased-array behavior at different levels of abstraction. These development stages range from early conceptual models with little detail to highly defined array models that account for true component interactions and possible impairments. Designing the complex packaging schemes for high-frequency signaling must be addressed with circuit simulation and electromagnetic (EM) analysis tools specialized for RF and microwave electronics.