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Useful Software

This page pretends to be a small repository containing all the software that I have been using since I started with my PhD studies. I hope that it can save most of the time that I spent discovering all these programs to the people that are just starting their research career.


Writing Scientific Documents

LaTeX is a high-quality typesetting system; it includes features designed for the production of technical and scientific documentation. LaTeX is the de facto standard for the communication and publication of scientific documents.

You can find its most famous guide here.

I always use Winedt to edit my LaTex documents (notice that it is shareware), but some of my linux friends use emacs + command line to compile.

If you are planning to write in a different language rather than English, you might want to grab a dictionary from here.

I prefer to use pdfLaTeX because it outputs a pdf file directly, thus you skip all the conversions. However this implies that I cannot use ps or eps files in my figures (see below for solutions)

EDA (Electronic Design Automation)

Free Circuit Simulator

The best option I have found to freely simulate the behavior of electronic circuits is the gEDA suite. Currently, the gEDA project offers a mature suite of free software applications for electronics design, including schematic capture, attribute management, bill of materials (BOM) generation, netlisting into over 20 netlist formats, analog and digital simulation, and printed circuit board (PCB) layout. It is available in most common Linux distributions and if you are using windows, you can find how to install it here.

Use gschem to draw your layout and generate the SPICE netlist with gnetlist. You will have to provide with the necessary models for your transistors, for instance you might be interested in using the Predictive Technology Models.

Once we have the SPICE netlist generated by XCircuit, we can simulate it with ngspice. Ngspice is a mixed-level/mixed-signal circuit simulator based on Spice3f5, Cider1b1 and Xspice. If the program seems to you a little tough, try using the more friendly frontend Kjwaves. Use gwave to better visualize the outputs (only for linux). If you need to perform complex operations with the results try using GNU Octave or directly importing the data into Matlab.

Circuit Drawing

XCircuit is a program for drawing publishable-quality electrical circuit schematic diagrams and related figure. Here you will find the files and the download instructions. I you are working in Windows, there is a native Windows version, and also a Cygwin version (I think this one is always more updated), note that in both cases you will need a Tcl/Tk interpreter, just follow the download instructions.

Full Custom Design

Microwind is a friendly PC Windows  tool (95,98, NT, XP) for designing and simulating microelectronic circuits at layout level. The tool features full editing facilities (Cut, paste, duplicate, move, stretch ), attractive views (MOS characteristics, 2D cross-section, 3D cross-section), atomic views and an on-line analog simulator.

Magic is a venerable VLSI layout tool, written in the 1980's at Berkeley by John Ousterhout, now famous primarily for writing the scripting interpreter language Tcl. Due largely in part to its liberal Berkeley open-source license, magic has remained popular with universities and small companies. The open-source license has allowed VLSI engineers with a bent toward programming to implement clever ideas and help magic stay abreast of fabrication technology. However, it is the well thought-out core algorithms which lend to magic the greatest part of its popularity. Magic is widely cited as being the easiest tool to use for circuit layout, even for people who ultimately rely on commercial tools for their product design flow.
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