Skip to main content

Circuit Simulation and PCB Design Software

Key Takeaways

  • Circuit simulation and PCB design software play complementary roles in the PCB design process, providing engineers with tools for designing, simulating, verifying, and optimizing electronic circuits.

  • Effective simulation and analyses helps to reduce the number of design⇒build⇒test (DBT) iterations needed for development by ensuring the circuit design will satisfy performance and operational objectives prior to board build. 

  • The PSpice simulation tool and OrCAD X PCB design software are two integral components of the Cadence tool suite for designing and simulating electronic circuits and PCBs.

Cadence’s PSpice circuit simulation tool with OrCAD X Capture

Cadence’s PSpice circuit simulation tool within OrCAD X Capture

The advantages of simulation; primarily time and cost savings are realized with the ability to evaluate and refine a design prior to physical implementation, are well-known and utilized, especially for research and development (R&D). With the right circuit simulation and PCB design software, these benefits can be achieved during the circuit board development process, resulting in reduced design⇒build⇒test (DBT) cycles and more efficient PCB bring up. The complementary relationship between design and simulation is exhibited below. 

Benefits of Circuit Simulation and PCB Design Software Integration

Design Software

Simulation Software

Integration Benefits

  • Evaluate circuit to ensure that functionality, operation and performance objectives are achieved with choice of components and net configuration

  • Validate the effectiveness and quality of component selections and net configuration 

  • Enables real-time design refinement; such as component replacement and net adjustments

  • Avoids errors that occur with file export to third-party simulation tool

  • Maximizes speed and accuracy of circuit design

The table above highlights the relationship between integrated circuit simulation and PCB design software. Many PCB design programs require that designers employ third-party tools to perform simulation. Although, this option is better than foregoing simulation which can result in extended design/redesign time, unnecessary manufacturing costs and reduced product development ROI. These contingencies are avoidable with Cadence’s integrated circuit simulation and PCB design software. 

Cadence’s Circuit Simulation and PCB Design Software

The PSpice simulation tool and OrCAD X PCB design software are two integral components of the Cadence tool suite for designing and simulating electronic circuits. Here's an overview of each tool and how they interact:

PSpice Simulation Tool

PSpice is a powerful circuit simulation tool that allows engineers to simulate the behavior of electronic circuits before prototyping or production, enabling thorough analysis and optimization.

Key features of PSpice include:

  • Analog and digital simulation: Supports simulation of analog, digital, and mixed-signal circuits, including components such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors, operational amplifiers, digital logic gates, power electronic components and digital, analog and power management ICs..

  • Circuit optimization: Uses advanced analysis simulation engines in conjunction with core PSpice simulation to maximize design performance, yield, cost-effectiveness, and reliability.

  • Electro-mechanical simulation: Performs system-level simulation powered by PSpice and MathWork’s Simulink.

  • Behavioral modeling: Allows users to create custom models for components and subcircuits, enabling accurate representation of real-world behavior.

  • Reliability Analysis: Smoke testing to evaluate the thermal profile of a component or subcircuit to verify and/or establish temperature limits for component and board operation.  

  • Monte Carlo analysis: Facilitates statistical analysis of circuit performance by simulating multiple iterations with varying component values to assess tolerances and sensitivities.

  • Sensitivity analysis: Determines the impact of component variations on circuit performance, aiding in design optimization.

OrCAD X PCB Design Software

OrCAD X is a comprehensive PCB design solution that provides a complete set of tools for schematic capture, PCB layout, and routing. It allows engineers to easily create complex PCB designs, incorporating components, connectors, traces, and layers.

Key features of OrCAD X include:

  • Schematic capture: Allows engineers to create electronic schematics using a library of components and symbols. Schematics serve as the blueprint for the PCB layout.

  • In-design analysis: Provides real-time feedback of simulation results without format translation or file import/export, which extends design time and increases opportunities for errors.

  • PCB layout and routing: Enables users to design the physical layout of the PCB, placing components and routing traces while adhering to design rules and constraints.

  • Design rule checking (DRC): Ensures the PCB design meets specified constraints and manufacturing requirements.

  • 3D visualization: Provides a three-dimensional view of the PCB design, facilitating design validation and collaboration.

  • Design for manufacturing (DFM) and design for assembly (DFA) constraint management: Integrated 

  • Integration with manufacturing: Supports export of design files in standard formats for fabrication and assembly.

PSpice and OrCAD X Interaction 

PSpice and OrCAD X Capture are tightly integrated, allowing seamless design data transfer between the schematic capture and simulation environments. Engineers can design circuits in the OrCAD X schematic editor and directly simulate them using PSpice without requiring manual translation or conversion of design files.

Once a circuit is simulated in PSpice, engineers can analyze the results and make design modifications as needed in OrCAD X, maintaining a synchronized workflow between design and simulation. Any changes to the schematic in OrCAD X are automatically reflected in the PSpice simulation, ensuring consistency throughout the design process.

This integration streamlines the design and simulation workflow, enabling engineers to iterate quickly and efficiently to achieve optimal PCB designs.

Cadence PCB Design Software Supports Circuit Simulation 

With industry leading Cadence PCB design and analysis tools; such as PSpice and OrCAD X you are equipped with a seamless integration solution between circuit simulation and PCB design software to help you optimize your PCB development process.

Leading electronics providers rely on Cadence products to optimize power, space, and energy needs for a wide variety of market applications. To learn more about our innovative solutions, talk to our team of experts or subscribe to our YouTube channel.