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10 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JULY 2022 Electromagnetic field solvers have tradition- ally been used by a small slice of engineers— the full-time signal integrity experts—and their use has been limited to the most demanding designs. But as design speeds increase, prob- lems requiring field solvers are becoming more mainstream and field solvers are popping up all over the place, including free or inexpensive solvers available through an internet search. Many companies are claiming that their field solvers can be used by hardware design engi- neers without the SI background that solvers once required. We asked Todd Westerhoff, product market- ing manager for Siemens EDA, and Bill Hargin, CEO of Z-zero, to cut through the fog of field solvers and explain how engineers can ensure they avoid a "garbage in, garbage out" (GIGO) scenario when using field solvers to analyze their designs. Surveying the Land of Field Solvers Andy Shaughnessy: Let's start by defining a field solver. What exactly does a field solver do? Bill Hargin: I think the simplest answer, Andy, is that a field solver is a black box that con- verts mechanical design parameters and mate- rial properties into a simulatable electrical model using Maxwell's equations. You give a field solver a precise dimensional descrip- tion of a structure you plan to build, along with the materials it will be built from, and it gives you back a model that you can either examine directly or use as part of a system simulation. ere are two broad classes of field solv- ers used in PCB design: 2D solvers, which are used to predict transmission line (signal trace) behavior under specific conditions, and 3D solvers, which are more complicated to use, but provide accurate answers under gen- Feature Interview by the I-Connect007 Editorial Team

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