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Where To Find This Example

Select Help > Open Examples... from the menus and type either the example name listed above or one of the keywords below.

Or in Version 13 or higher you can open the project directly from this page using this button. Make sure to select the Enable Guided Help before clicking this button.

Design Notes


This is a two stage MMIC amplifier example that demonstrates many of the benefits using Microwave Office for GaAs MMIC design:

Em Extraction using AXIEM and Geometry Simplfication

Multi-Layer Metalization - Line Types

Intelligent Interconnects

MTRACE2 - Routeable MLIN

Electrical editing in Layout

Layout checking for connectivity and DRC

Face Offsets

Snap to Fit


Switch Views

Gamma Probes for internal stability analysis


This project shows the design of a 10-12 GHz MMIC Amplifier built using a generic AWR MMIC process.  The amplifier has nominal gain of 17 dB.  The design is set up for tuning the input and interstage matching networks.  Bring up the tuner (Simulate > Tune) and drag the sliders up and down to view the impact of parameter changes on the “Frequency Response” and “Match” Graph




Label Project Name, Date, and Time

For any schematic or graph if you add text (Draw > Add Text) with the exact names, Project:, Time:, or Date: (notice the semicolons).  You can run a script to fill in that information.  Select Scripts > Global Scripts > Project > Label_Time_Date_Project_Name.

In this project, these text strings are on the Two_Stage_SS_Amp schematic in the lower right corner, run this script to see these values appear.  You may have to zoom to see the text after the script runs. 

Switch Views

Switch Views and Switch Lists provide an easy way for a designer to toggle between different versions of a model while maintaining a single layout cell for that instance.  In this project, Switch Views are used to create alternate EM and LVS versions of subcircuits.

For this project, the most important benefit of Switch Views and Switch Lists is how much they simplify having multiple models for the same circuit part(s).  This example shows how the designer can begin the design and start the layout using closed form models.  Then, as the layout is more finalized, EM simulation is used to create a model of the portions of the layout that may be difficult for closed form models to accurately represent.  In a normal design flow, after the EM simulations are finished the designer faces some tough choices on how to utilize the EM results without causing significant changes to their existing schematic and layout.  Switch Views and Switch Lists provide a very simple way for the EM results to become an alternate model on the same schematic the designer has always used.  In other words, the designer can use the EM simulation results as a new model without having to worry about changing the original schematic and layout.

While going through this project not the simplicity that is provided by being able to use EM results, or any other model as an alternate simulation view.  This approach really allows the designer to keep all the data in one simulation and easily see and understand the impact of different modeling approaches on the performance of their design.

Switch Views are also used to create alternate views of elements for LVS (Layout versus Schematic) netlisting.

Switch Views In This Project

The "Input_Meander" Schematic, the "Interstage_Meander" Schematic, and the "Output_Meander" Schematic all have an "EM" Switch View.  In each of these cases the EM Switch view is an EM simulation of the part(s) in the schematic.  For example, the "EM" Switch View for the "Input_Meander" Schematic an EM Structure that contains the same layout as the MTRACE2 element in the "Input_Meander" Schematic.  This is easily seen by comparing the EM Structure in "EM" Switch View to the layout for any of the schematics that have this switch view.

Microstrip inductors in the in the design have alternate LVS switch views.

Switch Lists In This Project

The Switch Lists that have been configured for this schematic are located under the Switch List node of the project tree.  Double click on the Switch List named "EM", and notice that the only Switch View is included in this Switch List is "EM". Note that if the "EM" Switch View is not found for a subcircuit, the default model will be used.  In other words, not every schematic needs to have an "EM" Switch View, the designer can choose to use them where it makes sense.

When making measurements, there is a drop down menu called "Configuration".  This menu is where the different Switch Lists can be chosen.  As seen below, this concept is used to look at both the amplifier performance using closed form models and EM results.  The measurements point to the same Schematic, but will use the closed form models for the "Default" configuration and the EM results for the "EM" configuration.

EM Extraction with AXIEM

Instead of using EM Switch Views, you can also use EM Extraction to toggle between circuit models, and EM simulation results.

This project has been also configured to use EM Extraction to simulate the entire desing using AXIEM.   Please see the Help for extraction setup details as this example will focus on the results rather than the setup details.   To see AXIEM simulate the metal, enable the EXTRACT block on the "Linear_Test_Bench" schematic.  Alternatively, you can enable the EXTRACT blocks in the individual matching network schematics to see the effects of EM simulation of just those sections.  

Geometry Simplification rules are used in this project to transform layout from shapes needed for manufacturing (what is taped out) to shapes that are most efficient for EM simulation.  To see this, enable one of the extract blocks, right click on the extract block and select Add Extraction.  This will generate an EM document in the project, then right click on the EM document and select Preview Geometry to see the simplified shapes in the layout.   Pay close attention to how the air bridge shapes for inductors or capacitors are done and what the bond pads and vias look like.   These rules are setup in the STACKUP element in the Global Definitions window.

Note that EM Extraction is not compatible with the EM Switch Lists, and measurements using the "EM" configuration will generate an error when Extraction is enabled.

Gamma Probe Stability Analysis

Graphs named "Stability Stage 1"  and "Stability Stage 2" plot the stability index of the amplifier with swepted input and output impedances. All of the load impedances are plotted, and the tuner is used to change the source impedance.  After simulation, use the tuner to vary the source impedance angles and look for any value > 1 for potential instability.  The core design in the "Two_Stage_SS_Amp" schematic has gamma probes at the input and output of each transistor to perform this analysis.

Multi-Layer Metalization

Microwave Office uses the concept of Line Types to automatically draw multi-layer metal lines.  Open the layout view of the "Input Network" schematic.  Select the MTRACE2 between the input capacitor and the radial stubs.  Right click and select Shape Properties to open the Cell Options dialog box.  Click on the Line Type drop down box and change the Line Type to "Plated Metal Line".  Notice how the line automatically draws in all of the layers with the correct offsets.  Additional Line Types can be added to the project by editing the Layer Process File (.lpf) in a text editor.  See the online User Guide for a full description of the Layer Process File (Help>Contents and Index).

Intelligent Interconnects

From the "Input Network" layout, select the line between the input capacitor and the radial stubs.  Change the MTRACE2 Line Type to "Cap Bottom Line" and notice how the connection to the top of the capacitor automatically adds a via to connect the plated metal to the cap bottom layer.  The intelligent interconnect draws the proper interconnect according to the DRC rules so the user does not have to remember all of the subtle rules.  From the "Input_Network" schematic, delete the wire connecting the input capacitor to the MTRACE2 element.  Notice how the connection to the top plate disappears when the capacitor is not connected to anything.  The Intelligent Interconnects are provided with the Foundry Libraries supplied by AWR.

Electrical Editing in Layout

Open the layout view of the "Input_Network" schematic and double-click on the input capacitor.  Eight drag handles will appear in the layout to adjust the size of the capacitor.  Pull one of the drag handles in the corner to make the capacitor larger.  Notice that the width and length in the schematic have been updated and the value of the capacitance has changed to reflect the new size of the capacitor.  Move one of the drag handles on the side of the capacitor and notice that the capacitance stays constant.  The drag handle editing and update of the electrical schematic is a unique feature of Microwave Office that allows the user to make changes in the layout without worrying about keeping the layout and electrical schematic synchronized.

Face Offsets

From the "Two Stage SS" layout, select the DC Bondpad furthest to the right side.  Right click, select Shape Properties.  From the Cell Options dialog box, press the Faces tab to bring up the Face options for the DC Bondpad.  Select “Face 2” from the Face drop down box.  Notice how the selected face appears in blue on the layout.  Select "Offset" under the Face Justification area and enter “-25” in the Offset dx box.  The center of Face 2 has now moved 25um higher in the layout.  Now that the face center has changed, a red X appears in the layout to let the user know that the layout is not connected properly.  You can also set the face to be variable and the line can connect anywhere along the bond pad.  See the online User's Guide for more information on Face properties.

Snap to Fit

Select the MTRACE connected to face 2 of the Bondpad.  Press the Snap to Fit button at the top of Microwave Office.  Notice how the MTRACE2 element automatically adjusts itself to make the proper connection.  The MTRACE2 and MCTRACE elements have this special property to adjust their size to complete a connection.  This is very useful when routing bias lines to DC Bondpads.

Schematic Connectivity

The AWR Design Environment contains a connectivity checker capability.  This is similar to LVS.   Open the "Linear_Test_Bench" schematic and press the New Schematic Layout View hot button along the top of Microwave Office.  Select Verify > Run Connectivity Check from the toolbar to run the check.  A dialog will open to display any errors.   The project is shipped connectivity clean.  Open any layout window and draw shapes to short out shapes or move layout objects to make open circuits and run the check again to see how errors are reported.  


Open the "Input_Network" schematic and press the New Schematic Layout View hot button along the top of Microwave Office.  Select Verify > Design Rule Check from the toolbar to open the DRC rules dialog window.  From the DRC rules dialog window, press the Run DRC button to start the DRC rules check on the layout of the "Input Network".  A DRC rules violation window displays the DRC violation.  Double-click on the DRC violation and the error will be highlighted in red in the layout window.  Press the Clear Errors button to stop the DRC engine.  See the online User's Guide for all of the DRC rules.  Use a text editor to open the "drc_rules.txt" file located in the Microwave Office directory.  After editing the "drc_rules.txt" file, press the "Load Rules File" button to load the updated rules and run the DRC again.

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