Use the Best RF Design Software for High Frequency PCBs

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: June 29, 2021

Designing radio frequency systems to support high frequencies and digital interfaces is challenging and requires the best RF design software tools. RF engineering in a high GHz band takes the best RF design software to ensure accurate PCB trace routing, layer stack design, and circuit design. Use Altium Designer for your RF design process and to take your next GHz band system to manufacturing.


A unified PCB design application with circuit design features, a powerful PCB editor, and simulation features for RF engineering professionals.

Many electronics engineers are very familiar with digital design concepts, but what about the peculiarities of RF design? An RF system operating at high frequencies and with digital interfaces on the PCB can experience many signal integrity problems that will degrade signal quality unless the right steps are taken. Designers that use the best RF design software can follow best PCB layout practices for their RF systems, as well as evaluate their systems with the best simulation and analysis features. When you need to design an RF PCB to support GHz band frequencies, use a complete design program like Altium Designer, the industry’s best digital, RF, and mixed-signal design software.

Accurate Circuit Design in RF Engineering

Every new electronic system will start as a circuit design, and electronics engineers need powerful design and simulation tools for RF engineering. RF circuit design requires building systems that can operate at high frequencies and simulations with real components to evaluate designs. A systems-level design approach is needed in order to understand signal propagation through circuits like filters and matching networks. Not all software tools can support these tasks, and many designers are forced to pair a field solver with a circuit design editor and a SPICE simulator to create their RF designs.

Make sure to use the best schematic design tools with integrated component libraries and connections to the PCB supply chain. The schematic editor in Altium Designer includes a powerful SPICE simulation engine that accepts standard component models for SPICE simulations. With access to everything in a single program, you can design a high-quality power converter and verify the design quickly and easily.

RF Design Software with Mixed-Signal Design and Simulation Tools

Altium Designer includes the best schematic editor that gives access to a huge range of real components with simulation models for use in RF circuit design and analysis. Designers can streamline the RF design process while also aiding systems-level design and analysis. It’s simple to create components in your schematics for evaluation and simulation with Altium Designer’s complete set of component creation tools and simulation features. Like other SPICE-based simulators, Altium Designer also helps you work with mixed-signal systems in RF engineering.

RF circuit design

Transient analysis of RF circuit designs and other simulations are streamlined in Altium Designer’s schematic editor.

Finish Your Layout With the Best RF Design Software

After using the best RF circuit design editor to create your high frequency system, you can use the integrated schematic capture feature in Altium Designer to start your PCB layout. The complete set of routing and component layout tools in Altium Designer will help you place components, route transmission lines, and ensure conformance to design rules in a single application. With a powerful set of routing features, you can ensure impedance matching in transmission lines with design to low insertion loss in your PCB traces. You’ll have full control over your PCB layout, as well as powerful verification features in a single RF design software application.

Post-Layout Simulations in a Single Program

After you complete your PCB layout of your RF design, it’s important to put the design through a round of simulations to ensure any signal integrity problems are solved or prevented. Altium Designer makes these tasks easy with an EDB Exporter utility, allowing RF designers to bring a finished RF PCB into Ansys field solvers. These tools have come together to streamline the high frequency RF design process with powerful design, layout, and simulation features. Altium Designer includes an additional set of simulation tools to help you verify your design before manufacturing.

RF PCB layout in Altium Designer

Use integrated schematic capture and sourcing tools to instantly create your RF PCB layout in Altium Designer.

RF Design Software That Gets You to Manufacturing

Altium Designer doesn’t stop with RF circuit design and layout tools. After using integrated and 3rd party simulation features, RF designers can quickly prepare their board for manufacturing in standard processes. It’s never been easier to prepare a new RF design for high-volume manufacturing, including advanced high frequency RF designs. You can take advantage of the following manufacturing features in Altium Designer:

  • Gerber file generator in the latest file formats (RS-274-X and X2)
  • Fabrication and assembly drawing generation with the Draftsman utility
  • Bill of materials generation with automated supply chain checking
  • NC drill file, pick-and-place file, and netlist generation

Altium Designer’s major advantage over other RF design software platforms and PCB design applications comes from its integrated design environment. Everything you need for RF circuit design, PCB layout and transmission line routing, and post-layout simulation is included in a single application. Altium Designer helps you stay productive and design cutting-edge technology with the industry’s most powerful PCB design application for product development.

Experience Rules-Driven Design in Altium Designer

The rules-driven design engine in Altium Designer unifies every design tool you need into a single application. When you need to create a high-frequency analog system or mixed-signal PCB, the rules-driven design tools in Altium Designer keep you productive and ensure your design meets your application requirements. Best of all, you won’t have to use external programs for RF filter design, simulation, and impedance control; everything you need can be found in Altium Designer.

RF design software

Design your RF circuits and perform system-level design with the complete set of schematic design and PCB layout features in Altium Designer.

Stop using separate programs for RF PCB layout, RF circuits design, simulation, field solvers, and analysis. Instead, take control over all aspects of your RF PCB layout with the complete set of PCB design tools in Altium Designer. Only Altium helps you stay at the cutting-edge of technology while helping you collaborate and stay productive.

Altium Designer on Altium 365 delivers an unprecedented amount of integration to the electronics industry until now relegated to the world of software development, allowing designers to work from home and reach unprecedented levels of efficiency.

We have only scratched the surface of what is possible to do with Altium Designer on Altium 365. You can check the product page for a more in-depth feature description or one of the On-Demand Webinars.

About Author

About Author

Zachariah Peterson has an extensive technical background in academia and industry. He currently provides research, design, and marketing services to companies in the electronics industry. Prior to working in the PCB industry, he taught at Portland State University and conducted research on random laser theory, materials, and stability. His background in scientific research spans topics in nanoparticle lasers, electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor devices, environmental sensors, and stochastics. His work has been published in over a dozen peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has written 1000+ technical blogs on PCB design for a number of companies. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, and the American Physical Society, and he currently serves on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee.

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