Advanced Imaging


Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 10:01 AM CDT

Speed Thrills

Accelerated simulations add to cell phone safety and efficiency
mobile phone simulation
© Acceleware
Mobile phone companies use simulations to test for Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of RF energy that, according to the FCC, must not exceed 1.6 W/kg in the head of a cell phone user.
multicore computers chart
© Acceleware
By using multicore computers with multiple GPUs, the simulations run at a minimum 10 times faster, with some products increasing as much as 35 percent.

By Barry Hochfelder

"They imported the guts of the phone—the antenna, LCD, wiring, key pad—all in their physical properties and characteristics. They would turn all of it into bits of metal, plastic and rubber from a physics perspective. You can write equations to model the antenna, but when a phone's in a person's hands you can throw the math out the window."

Mobile phone companies, he adds, want a great antenna, want to radiate the least amount of energy and they want the phone to look exactly the way they designed it.

Under the CAD method, a single simulation on a multicore computer ran 10 hours for a single scenario. In the late 1980s, the Motorola brick phone (the DynaTAC 8000X, which weighed two pounds, cost $3,995, and provided 30 minutes of talk time per charge) worked off a single frequency. Today's phones, of course, operate at different frequencies and have more features.

"At the technical level, the phone supports anywhere from 5-10 frequencies and have to receive signals from GPS satellites," Schneider says. "Now they have to run hundreds of simulations. One of our customers runs 400 simulations to see if the phone is ready. That's different frequencies, different positions around the head, Bluetooth compatible, and European and North American operations. At 10 hours per scenario that would be 4,000 hours."

Obviously, that would not work. Time to market is critical in the very competitive cell phone industry. One estimate is that $1.5 million per day is lost if a phone doesn't ship on time. For Acceleware phone customers, including giants Nokia, Motorola, LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, that's important.

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