Saber eUpdate June 2010  

SaberRD – Desktop Environment for Power System Design  

The design of modern power systems demands modern tools for modeling and simulating physical behavior. The March 2010 release of the Saber Products marks the introduction of SaberRD, an intuitive desktop environment for designing and simulating complex power systems.

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Electrical power makes the world go. Applications of electrical power generation, conversion, and distribution are an integral part of innovations in the transportation, defense, and industrial sectors. Whether a 100kW DC motor drive for a hybrid electric vehicle or a 500kVA generation and distribution system for an aircraft, designers are spending significant effort to maximize efficiency, optimize performance, and minimize cost of complex power systems.

Tools for Designing Power Systems
Physical modeling and simulation tools are by no means new to the domain of power systems design. For decades, engineers have been using simulation tools to predict the behavior of power systems, from small DC/DC converters to large, integrated distribution systems with multiple AC and DC busses operating at multiple voltages and frequencies. The challenge, as with any physical modeling and simulation tool, is in being able to apply it effectively—in this context to the design of electrical power systems. One may consider several perspectives that determine how effectively physical modeling and simulation tools are applied:

From the standpoint of power system technology
Power system technology continues to evolve at an astonishing rate. New device technology and digital control techniques are enabling higher efficiencies and higher power levels to meet the demands of modern applications. More frequently, design is done from the perspective of the entire system, in which the loads themselves can exhibit complex nonlinear behaviors and the operating environment can have a significant influence on system robustness. Accordingly, tools must have sufficient capability to describe the critical dynamics of complete systems, often composed of both analog and digital behaviors and spanning multiple physical domains.

From the standpoint of the power system designer
From the designer’s perspective, physical modeling and simulation tools are becoming more necessary to manage the sheer complexity of integrated system behavior and to meet shorter design cycle times that traditional development processes might not permit. Safety is also a growing concern, as high power devices can pose a significant risk to an engineer during physical prototyping and testing. While the purpose of engineering software is to address complex problems, the software itself doesn’t need to be prohibitively complex as to discourage its use. Often an afterthought in technical software, the qualities of a tool that make it “easy to use” hold value for the expert and novice alike. Along with ease of use, the utility of a software tool is often assessed by its support for the range of design and analysis methodologies that the designer requires.

From the standpoint of the enterprise
With the prospect of supplying engineering software to a large design community, enterprise IT teams must consider how ‘deployable’ individual tools are. Deployability describes how easily a tool can be provided to an engineering design organization, as measured by several factors: compatibility with the compute infrastructure and existing tool chains (platforms and operating systems, for example), ability to serve the needs of users with a potentially broad range of expertise levels, and support for collaboration among supply chains through standard languages and data formats, among others.

Introducing SaberRD, Desktop Environment for Power System Design
The latest addition to the Saber family of tools, SaberRD is an integrated modeling, simulation, and analysis environment for the design of today’s complex power systems. SaberRD combines the industry-proven capability of the Saber® modeling and simulation technology with an intuitive, graphical IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for creating virtual prototypes of modern power systems.


Figure 1. SaberRD: An Integrated Environment for Power Systems Design

The SaberRD user interface was created with flow in mind, providing guidance to the user throughout the entire process of modeling, simulating, and analyzing power systems. Each stage of power system design in SaberRD is supported with powerful yet easy-to-use capabilities. Designed to be accessible to both novice and expert users of circuit simulation, SaberRD emphasizes ease of use for common tasks while providing a high degree of flexibility and configurability for more advanced tasks.


Figure 2. The intuitive SaberRD IDE guides the user through the flow

SaberRD supports each stage of a virtual prototyping process for power systems design with powerful capability for:

Creating schematic designs
  • Intuitive placement and wiring features for quickly creating hierarchical and multi-sheet schematics of power systems
  • Access over 30,000 ready-to-use electronic components and multi-domain models in the SaberRD Parts Library
Creating MAST and VHDL-AMS models using a broad selection of modeling tools
  • Create behavioral models from table look-up data and state diagrams
  • Characterize power electronics components from datasheets (MOSFETs, IGBTs, Diodes, more)
  • Quickly and easily reuse models in Spice and IBIS formats
Simulating system behavior
  • Simulate designs in both MAST and VHDL-AMS using the proven SaberHDL simulator
  • Analyze complex power electronic and multi-domain behaviors in the time and frequency domains
  • Optimize and verify system robustness using parametric and statistical design capabilities
Analyzing simulation results
  • Evaluate simulation results captured in textual reports
  • Analyze graphical waveform data using the SaberRD suite of measurement and waveform manipulation tools
Generating reports and documentation
  • Annotate design documents and analysis results (schematics, graphs, and more)
  • Export design documents and analysis results for documentation and presentations

Designed to address the complexity of power systems for applications in automotive, aerospace, industrial controls, and beyond, SaberRD is an integrated modeling, simulation, and analysis environment that is powerful yet easy to use. An innovative and intuitive user interface makes SaberRD accessible to a broader range of simulation experience levels in engineering organizations. Its unmatched model libraries and proven simulation technology form the center of a complete virtual prototyping platform for power electronics and multi-domain behaviors of power generation, conversion, and distribution systems--from the component level through complete system integration.

This article was published in the June 2010 Saber eUpdate Newsletter.