Since the 1960s, Dr. Gordon Moore’s prediction that computing performance will double every 12 to 18 months has held true. More recently, the gains in computing performance have been enabled by a combination of hardware and software technologies, such as multi-core, multi-threaded designs. The conveniences of the modern world — ubiquitous communication through internet-enabled phones, electronic payments and digital streaming, to name a few, are partly due to continuous engineering innovations delivered through cheaper, faster, more-precise electronics.
The first Intel microprocessor, introduced in 1974, contained fewer than 3,000 transistors, whereas recent microprocessors and graphics processing units (GPUs) contain more than 10 billion transistors. Similarly, the first working mobile phone prototype, demonstrated in 1973, weighed nearly 2.5 pounds. In comparison, the modern smartphone weighs under 5.0 ounces and is a powerful computing, communication, and entertainment device. These feats required more than just breakthroughs in electronics. Innovations in materials science, physics and processing technologies, and engineering simulation also deserve credit.
There are many examples that validate the value of engineering simulation for speeding innovation across a range of applications, including automotive electronics and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Electronic systems account for more than 40 percent of the value of modern automobiles. Designing, integrating and testing these systems — Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and infotainment, for example — is a complex task. Safety critical systems, such as ADAS, rely on flawless software and hardware integration. Many cars now contain more than 20 million lines of code, making system modeling and automatic code generation a necessity. Earlier generations of entertainment systems have given way to complex touch-screen based infotainment systems. Beyond the cost and time-to-market pressures, engineers need to address signal integrity and electromagnetic interference (EMI) that could create not only unpleasant driving experience, but lead to critical system failures. NXP Semiconductors engineers recently leveraged simulation to develop breakthrough automotive infotainment electronics – delivering more music and less noise.
Internet of Things
Within the next three years, the number of IoT devices will nearly triple to 20 billion, driving nearly a five-fold increase in annual Internet data traffic, which will jump to more than two trillion gigabytes (2.3 zetta-bytes). To support this rapid growth, engineers must meet strict power, performance and cost specifications. The chip designer must ensure that the integrated circuit (IC) delivers the best performance per watt of energy; the printed circuit board (PCB) designer must address all signal and power integrity issues; the communication system engineer needs to produce a robust antenna design; and the software engineer needs to guarantee low latency and high reliability. Many of these design objectives must be verified by tests conducted across a range of operating conditions, such as temperatures and voltages.
Engineers at Clariphy Communications are designing the backbone of the IoT. They are using chip-package-system workflow to support the high-fidelity and reliability required for IoT applications.
In addition to high-speed communication infrastructure, IoT applications depend on reliable wireless connectivity at the device level. Many of these smart products include multiple technologies, such as GPS, Wi-Fi, LTE, NFC, and Bluetooth, requiring engineers to pay close attention to EMI as well as antenna design, placement, and integration. To improve the antenna performance of their wearable electronics and body-area-networking technologies, Chemering Technology Solutions leveraged engineering simulation.
The traditional boundaries between industries is rapidly disappearing as software and electronics become integral to a smarter world. As a result, engineering innovation is accelerating in every industry, including Automotive, Aerospace and Defense, Energy, Healthcare and Turbomachinery. As we look forward to flying cars, personalized medicine, and virtual reality, we can be sure that simulation tools are playing an important part in their development. From semiconductor design to structural integrity and aerodynamic performance, high-fidelity 3-D simulation enables engineers to converge on the best solutions faster, gain quicker insight into trade-offs, and minimize over-design with ease.