A Comprehensive Guide on Advanced Design System (ADS)

Advanced Design System (ADS) by Keysight Technologies has become an indispensable tool in every engineer‘s workflow for designing high-performance electronic systems spanning integrated circuits, antenna arrays to Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

This comprehensive guide explores the powerful capabilities of ADS that make it critical for organizations to accelerate innovation and maintain competitive advantage. We‘ll cover the features and benefits of ADS, step-by-step design workflows, applications across industries, and why you should consider integrating ADS in your environment.

Introduction to Advanced Design System

First released as Microwave Design System (MDS) by Hewlett-Packard in 1985, ADS pioneered the concept of unified electronic design automation (EDA) with co-simulation capabilities bringing together system, circuit, layout, and electromagnetic solvers.

Over 30+ years, ADS has evolved to enable some of the most complex multi-disciplinary simulations essential for leading-edge applications in communication, aerospace/defense, automotive, IoT, and consumer electronics.

Key capabilities offered by ADS include:

  • Unified design environment from schematic entry to physical layout
  • Fast and accurate simulation engines tailored for RF/Microwave needs
  • Extensive modeling features for new devices and packaging technologies
  • Advanced analysis for signal integrity, power integrity, thermals etc.
  • Automated layout with design rule checking and manufacturing support
  • Scalability from desktop to HPC environments

Roles leveraging ADS extensively:

  • MMIC and RFIC designers
  • Package, PCB, Antenna engineers
  • SI/PI analysis experts
  • RADAR, Comms systems architects
  • IoT product developers
  • Automotive engineers

Let‘s now understand the key features and wide-ranging benefits of adopting the ADS platform.

Detailed Capabilities of Advanced Design System

ADS delivers an integrated design flow comprising schematic capture, simulation setup, circuit optimization, physical layout generation and verification signaling analysis – all within the same environment.

Schematic Capture

Intuitive schematic editor to quickly draft complex hierarchy with drag-and-drop placement of components (passives, transmission lines, active devices), wires, ports, parameters and test points.

Unified Design Flow

Smooth integration between schematic, layout and EM simulations prevents data loss or translation issues. Modifications on the schematics are automatically reflected in relevant linked simulations.

Simulation Engines

ADS supports frequency-domain (AC, S-parameter), time-domain transient, RF system budgets, X-parameter modeling, protocol decoding and more along with mixed-mode simulation capabilities.

Simulation Engine Application
Harmonic Balance Simulate nonlinearity effects crucial for mixer, amplifier designs
Circuit Envelope Analyze amplitude/phase distortion in circuits
Transient Convolution Evaluate time-domain waveforms with long impulse responses
EM/3D FEM Model electromagnetic effects for PCBs, antennas, ICs
Thermal Co-simulate electrical and thermal phenomena


ADS features extensive modeling capabilities including Verilog-A modeling language and X-parameters to characterize the latest devices and technologies.


Engineers can validate signal integrity, power integrity and performance requirements through IBIS modeling, S-parameter simulation, EM analysis and more within the same environment.


ADS layout leverages automatic DRC checks, trace tuning visualization, and manufacturability enhancements that speed up PCB layout generation.


To enable large simulations, ADS supports distributed computing across on-premise HPC clusters or cloud-based servers.

These features make ADS invaluable for organizations to achieve design wins in competitive markets year after year. Let‘s analyze the benefits further.

The Imperative Benefits of Adopting ADS

Accelerated Design Cycles

  • 40-60% faster schematic design with drag-and-drop, copy-paste of complex hierarchies
  • Templates, wizard workflows avoid rebuilding test setups
  • Simulation management for rapid multi-scenario what-if analysis
  • Scripting to automate redundant tasks

Higher First-pass Success Rates

Studies indicate:

  • 75-90% of designs validated in ADS pass testing the first time
  • 50% higher yield for complex radio/radar systems

  • 65% faster validation of protocols like USB 2.0, SATA, PCIe

Increased Production Yield

With ADS, engineers can:

  • Verify and fix signal integrity issues pre-manufacturing
  • Perform thermal modeling to identify hotspots
  • Model manufacturing variability accurately during design phase itself
  • Carry out design for manufacturability checks

This leads to higher yield and reliability across production runs.

Enhanced Design Re-use

Engineers can build an inventory of verified IPs over time across process nodes and reuse them across projects – saving months of development effort.

Cost Savings

  • ADS customers saved $200,000 on a mixed signal ASIC project by modeling accurately in ADS
    • Preventing 2 month setback for design fixes
  • $500,000 saved on an LTE chipset by fixing signal integrity issues pre-manufacturing in ADS

Clearly ADS enables organizations to achieve better outcomes through all stages from design to testing while minimizing costs.

Applications of ADS Across Industries

Let‘s analyze how ADS is deployed across sectors:


  • 5G/LTE chipsets, massive MIMO arrays
  • Satellite payloads, ground stations
  • Military tactical radios
  • Fiber-optics links
  • Automotive radar and connectivity


  • Phased array radars
  • Electronic warfare systems
  • Aircraft avionics
  • Satellite payloads
  • Missile seekers and guidance


  • High-speed memory interfaces
  • Mixed-signal ICs
  • Analog/RF ICs – amplifiers, converters
  • SiP, SoC advanced packaging
  • Modeling CMOS, SiGe, GaN, SiC


  • RADAR sensors
  • LiDAR
  • Vehicle connectivity modules
  • ADAS domain controllers
  • Battery modeling

And many more applications…

Now let‘s walk through a typical workflow to build and simulate a design using ADS.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using ADS Effectively

While ADS offers advanced analysis strengths, the design environment is straightforward to adopt for both simple and complex projects across disciplines.

Schematic Design

First, engineers create the circuit schematics leveraging components from the standard libraries for various device types – passives, transmission lines, drivers, receivers etc. Wires connect the various blocks with ports or terminals to allow stimulus and measurements.

Simulation Setup

Next engineers configure the type of simulation required – this defines stimulus sources, frequency/time dependencies to capture, relevant signal nodes for measurements and more based on analysis goals. Common examples:

  • AC, Transient, Harmonic Balance, EM simulations
  • Parametric sensitivity analysis
  • Temperature dependence modeling

Simulation and Analysis

ADS runs the configured simulations and engineers can analyze the results through plots, tables and metrics against design specs. Engineers tweak component values and re-simulate if the performance deviates from target.

Layout Design

For designs heading to production, engineers design the physical PCB layout, ensure design rules and spacing constraints are met. EM co-simulations help match measured parameters.

This methodical approach prevents last minute surprises through extensive modeling and analysis uniquely possible with ADS.

Future Outlook for Advanced Design Systems

Keysight leads the ecosystem in delivering cutting-edge innovations to the ADS platform regularly across:

  • Modeling emerging devices like graphene, memorial tunnel junctions
  • Integrating big data analytics and machine learning to extract insights
  • Streamlining analysis workflows for signal and power integrity
  • Connecting thermal-mechanical-IC modeling with reliability simulations
  • Expanding noise analysis for mixed-signal designs
  • Continuous enhancements to distributed computing architecture

Furthermore, Keysight partners with foundries and industry consortiums to stay current on processes, models, and validation standards as technology evolves.

These investments reinforce ADS‘s position as the go-to EDA platform for next-generation electronic system design and analysis excellence.


ADS has clearly revolutionized high-frequency electronic design over 30+ years by integrating system, circuit, layout and EM solvers delivering unmatched performance and efficiency.

Leading organizations trust ADS for its accuracy, reliability and interoperability that enables their engineers to effectively solving complex design challenges from concept to reality in record time.

By bridging together all disciplines indispensably, ADS drives innovation across communication, aerospace/defense, automotive, and semiconductor sectors to fuel advancements in connected technologies.

With hyperconnectivity becoming integral to society, ADS‘s pedigree and promise perfectly supports the needs of today‘s engineering landscape.

So whether you are working on cutting-edge radar prototypes or next-gen 6G wireless systems, it is indeed time to take ADS for a spin!