Friday, February 26, 2010

Right simulation tool: impressions from APEC-2010

This week I have presented NL5 Circuit Simulator at APEC-2010 exposition. Still under impression, so this note might be too emotional…

I talked to many engineers: “freelancers”, working for their own small companies, as well as employees of worldwide-known semiconductor “monsters”. I was prepared to discussions and arguments about why would anybody need anything other than old good SPICE. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to demonstrate my “oratory” abilities: there was surprising consensus on what kind of simulation tool engineers really need, and what they are forced to use instead.

No doubt, SPICE-based simulators are more or less adequate for detailed analysis of circuits with accurate component models (hopefully… but who knows?). However, they are absolutely not suitable for development stage: i.e. evaluating a concept, proving basic functionality of a design, performing fast, reliable, and trusted simulation with very simple models. So far, I’ve not seen anybody happy with SPICE, even really advanced (and free!) LTSpice. Complains, complains - that’s all I’ve heard. Correct me if I’m wrong.

I’d like to ask engineers: if you do not like SPICE, why are you still using it? I’d like to ask managers and directors: do you aware of your engineers’ needs? Do you provide (or allow) engineers a right tool for efficient development? And what do you think right tool is?