Berkeley Announces Fractional-N PLL Transistor-Level Noise Analysis

Berkeley Design Automation, Inc., provider of Precision Circuit Analysis technology for advanced analog and RF integrated circuits (ICs), announced the industry’s first closed-loop noise analysis of fractional-N phase-locked loops (PLLs) at the transistor level. Combining transient noise and periodic noise analysis in the company’s Noise Analysis Option device noise analyzer, designers can now optimize and characterize all fractional-N and integer-N PLLs for phase noise and jitter prior to silicon fabrication. The result is improved performance, lower power, and faster time-to-market. The Noise Analysis Option is an option to the company’s award winning Analog FastSPICE circuit simulator, which is widely recognized as delivering true SPICE accurate results 5x-10x faster on 5x-10x larger circuits than any alternative.

Fractional-N PLLs are used across a wide variety of applications for their superior resolution and performance. Until now, however, it has been impossible to accurately analyze their closed-loop phase noise and jitter at the transistor-level including subtle time-varying device noise effects such as flicker noise and spurs. Instead, design teams have had to rely on behavioral modeling approximations and costly test chips. The Berkeley Design Automation Noise Analysis Option delivers the industry’s first closed-loop transistor-level fractional-N PLL noise analysis, including the effects of device noise, with true SPICE accuracy.

“Accurate transistor-level noise analysis of complete fractional-N PLLs is becoming critical for nanometer RFICs, but this analysis has been impossible or impractical,” said Edward Youssoufian, Director of RF Engineering and Founder, Newport Media, Inc. “Only the Noise Analysis Option can measure our fractional-N PLL closed-loop noise analysis with true SPICE accuracy. Adding Analog FastSPICE Co-Simulation for our PLL’s digital blocks increased performance another 3x and produced identical results. The PLL phase noise in both cases correlated extremely well with our silicon measurements.”

Berkeley Design Automation tools include Analog FastSPICE circuit simulation, Noise Analysis Option device noise analyzer, RF FastSPICE periodic analyzer, and PLL Noise Analyzer. The company guarantees identical waveforms to the leading “golden” SPICE simulators down to noise floor (typically 0.1% or less) while delivering 5x-10x higher performance and 5x-10x higher capacity. It achieves this by using advanced algorithms and numerical analysis techniques to rapidly solve the full-circuit matrix and the original device equations without any shortcuts that could compromise accuracy.

Design teams from top-10 semiconductor companies to leading startups use Berkeley Design Automation tools to solve big analog/RF verification problems. Typical applications include complex-block characterization (e.g., PLLs, ADCs, DC:DC converters, PHYs, Tx/Rx chains) and full-circuit performance simulation (e.g., wireless transceivers, wireline transceivers, high-speed I/O macros, memories, microcontrollers, data converters, and power converters).

“Customers designing complex analog/RF circuits in nanometer CMOS are rapidly adopting our noise analysis solution to optimize their designs prior to tapeout,” said Ravi Subramanian, president and CEO of Berkeley Design Automation. “We are proud to deliver another industry breakthrough – a practical and comprehensive noise analysis tool for complex analog and RF circuits, including fractional-N PLLs. We are very pleased with the excellent results our customers are obtaining with this tool, and are confident that this technology will make a dramatic difference for designers of tomorrow’s leading-edge analog, RF, and mixed-signal circuits.”

About Berkeley Design Automation
Berkeley Design Automation, Inc. is the recognized leader in advanced analog/RF verification. Its Precision Circuit Analysis technology combines the accuracy, performance, and capacity needed to verify GHz designs in nanometer-scale silicon. Berkeley Design Automation has received numerous awards including EDN Magazine’s 2006 Innovation of the Year, the 2006 Red Herring 100 North America, and the 2007 Red Herring Global 100 Finalist. Founded in 2003, the company is funded by Woodside Fund, Bessemer Venture Partners, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., and NTT Corporation.

Analog FastSPICE, Noise Analysis Option, RF FastSPICE, PLL Noise Analyzer, WaveCrave, and Precision Circuit Analysis are trademarks and Berkeley Design is a registered trademark of Berkeley Design Automation, Inc.