What is Electronics Simulation?

Shannon McGarry Shannon McGarry June 14, 2022

2 min read

Physical prototypes are increasingly becoming a relic of the past now that electronics simulation software is becoming more commercially available. Learn about the different types of simulation processes in this informative beginner’s guide.

Have you ever started building a circuit board from the ground up, only to find that the circuit board doesn’t perform as predicted in the end? These things happen, but with the advanced technology available today, they shouldn’t have to. Problems like these are becoming relics of the past thanks in large part to electronics simulation software.

Technology continues to innovate new processes and streamline old ones. Electronics simulation is a powerful tool that helps engineers model and test electronics before production. Electronics simulation software is incredibly accurate and often used in colleges and universities to teach electronics engineers.

Why is Electronics Simulation Software Important?

electronics-autodesk-fusion-360

Modern software platforms are continuously making the design process easier. When it comes to printed circuit boards (PCBs), there is little room for error. This is due to the expensive nature of the materials involved. Photomasks are expensive, and breadboards don’t really grow on trees. Engineers can’t waste time, money, and resources manufacturing physical trial and error prototypes.

Instead, electronics simulations integrate tools like a schematic editor and on-screen waveform displays to help engineers design PCBs virtually. Virtual designs can be altered and tested without wasting resources. Engineers can simulate the circuit to test the output and adjust as necessary based on the results. Some simulation software packages even house device libraries that include transistor models (BSIM), resistors, capacitors, transformers, etc. This all decreases design times and increases productivity.

Circuit Simulation Types

There are three basic types of circuit simulation: digital, analog, and mixed-mode. 

Digital

Digital circuit simulation uses simple models of electronic circuits to test circuit designs. However, instead of populating continuously varied signals like analog circuit simulation, it only uses a few small voltage levels (logic 0 and logic 1). This method lets the industrial designer simulate larger circuits in less time with fewer resources.

Analog

Analog circuit simulation uses accurate models of electronic circuits to test design functionality. It can employ different modes: AC, DC, and transient. All analog simulators use mathematical algorithms to test the performance of the electronic circuit. 

There are two types of analog circuit simulators: SPICE and FastSPICE. SPICE simulators are used to measure the functionality of the circuit by comparing it to extremely accurate, non-linear, and linear models. FastSPICE simulators, on the other hand, use less complex model representations to test the functionality of a circuit design.

Mixed-mode

Mixed-mode circuit simulation naturally combines both analog and digital simulation elements. The analog simulator is used for analog analysis while the digital simulator is used for digital analysis.

electronics-simulation-fusion-360

The Benefits of Electronics Simulation

It’s incredibly expensive and wasteful to fabricate electronic circuits over and over to test and redesign; which is why electronics simulation is a necessity. The biggest takeaway from using electronics simulation software is that it saves time, money, and resources. On top of that, simulation software also provides a variety of simulations to test electronic designs — and much more!

If you’re curious about what electronics simulation tool is right for you, check out Autodesk Fusion 360.

Get Fusion updates in your inbox

By clicking subscribe, I agree to receive the Fusion newsletter and acknowledge the Autodesk Privacy Statement.