Altium Designer Documentation

Managed Simulation Models in an Altium Vault_AD

Created: June 29, 2016 | Updated: April 11, 2017

Parent page: Vault-based Domain Models

From a designer's perspective, a vault component (Component Item) gathers together all information needed to represent that component across all design domains, within a single entity. It could therefore be thought of as a container in this respect. A 'bucket' into which all domain models and parametric information is stored. In terms of its representation in the various domains, a vault component doesn't contain the domain models themselves, but rather links to these models. These links are specified as part of the source component definition - from which the released Component Item is generated. As such, before you can delve into the process of defining and releasing vault components, you must first ensure that all the domain models themselves have been created and released.

Altium Designer, in conjunction with Altium Vault, caters for the ability to create and manage Simulation Model Items in an Altium Vault. Such Items are created directly within the target vault. Once a Simulation Model Item has been created (and data released into a revision of it), and its lifecycle state set to a level that the organization views as ready for use at the design level, it can be reused in the creation of one or more vault components.

Folder Type

When creating the folder in which to store Simulation Model Items, you can specify the folder's type. This has no bearing on the content of the folder - releasing a simulation model definition will always result in a corresponding Simulation Model Item. It simply provides a visual 'clue' as to what is stored in a folder and can be beneficial when browsing a vault for particular content. To nominate a folder's use as a container for Simulation Model Items, set its Folder Type as Simulation Models, when defining the folder properties in the Edit Folder dialog.

Specifying the folder type - its intended use - gives a visual indication of the content of that folder when browsing the vault!

Another important aspect of the parent folder is the Item Naming Scheme employed for it. This defines the format of the unique ID for each Item created in that particular folder. Several default example schemes are available, utilizing the short-form code for either the folder type (SML - Simulation Model Libraries) or the content type (SIM - Simulation Model):

  • $CONTENT_TYPE_CODE-001-{0000} - for example, SIM-001-0001.
  • $CONTENT_TYPE_CODE-001-{A00} - for example, SIM-001-A01.
  • $FOLDER_TYPE_CODE-001-{0000} - for example, SML-001-0001.
  • $FOLDER_TYPE_CODE-001-{A000} - for example, SML-001-A001.

Using a default naming scheme, the software will automatically assign the next available unique ID, based on that scheme, having scanned the entire vault and identifiers of existing Items. This can be a great time-saver when manually creating Simulation Model Items prior to release.

A custom scheme can also be defined for a folder, simply by typing it within the field, ensuring that the variable portion is enclosed in curly braces (e.g. SIMMODEL-001-{0000}).

The Item Naming Scheme of the parent folder is applied to the Unique ID for each Item
created within that folder.

The Item Naming Scheme employed for the parent folder can be changed at any time. The modified scheme will then be applied to any subsequent newly-created Items within that folder.

Item Type

When creating a target Simulation Model Item in which to store your simulation model definition, ensure that its Content Type is set to Simulation Model, in the Item Properties dialog. If you are creating the Item in a Simulation Models type folder, this Item type will be available from the right-click context menu when creating the Item.

Creating a Simulation Model Item within a Simulation Models folder - the correct Content Type is available on the context menu.

When defining a Simulation Model Item, be sure to specify the type of lifecycle management to be used for the Item, and the naming scheme employed for its revisions, respectively.

Control over which Item types can use a particular lifecycle definition or revision naming scheme, can be defined and enabled at a global level from within the Content Types dialog, when defining each schema. For a newly-installed vault, the default schemes assigned for use by a Simulation Model Item are: Component Lifecycle and 1-Level Revision Scheme, respectively.

Once a simulation model definition has been released into the initial revision of a Simulation Model Item, these schemes cannot be changed for that particular Item.

Specify the required schemes in the Item Properties dialog, using the Lifecycle Definition and Revision Naming Scheme fields respectively.

If the option to control use of lifecycle definitions and revision naming schemes per content type is enabled for any definitions/schemes, and the Simulation Model Item type is not set to use a particular definition/scheme, then that definition/scheme will not be available in the applicable drop-down list.

Selecting the Lifecycle Definition and Revision Naming schemes for a manually created Item.

Observing standard revision naming schemes and lifecycle definitions, across the various types of design item in a vault ensures smooth, consistent management of those items.
It is a good idea to add a comment and description as part of the Item's definition. This information is used when searching the vault and enables quick identification of what a Simulation Model Item offers.

Releasing a Simulation Model

So far, we've discussed the support for a Simulation Model Item in the vault, in terms of related folder and item types. Releasing an actual defined simulation model into a revision of such an item can be performed in a single streamlined way.

A simulation model can be edited and released into the initial revision of a newly-created Simulation Model Item, courtesy of the vault's support for direct editing. Direct editing frees you from the shackles of separate version-controlled source data. You can simply edit a supported Item type using a temporary editor loaded with the latest source direct from the vault itself. And once editing is complete, the entity is released (or re-released) into a subsequent planned revision of its parent Item, and the temporary editor closed. There are no files on your hard drive, no questioning whether you are working with the correct or latest source, and no having to maintain separate version control software. The Altium Vault handles it all, with the same great integrity you've come to expect, and in a manner that greatly expedites changes to your data.

When you create a Simulation Model Item, you have the option to edit and release a simulation model definition into the initial revision of that item, after creation. To do so, simply enable the option Open for editing after creation, at the bottom of the Create Item dialog (which is enabled by default). The Item will be created and the temporary SimModel Editor will open, presenting a .SimModel document as the active document in the main design window. This document will be named according to the Item-Revision, in the format: <Item><Revision>.SimModel (e.g. SIM-001-0001-1.SimModel).

Example of editing the initial revision of a Simulation Model Item, directly from the vault - the temporary SimModel Editor provides the document with which to define your
simulation model.

Use the document to define the simulation model as required. For more information on doing this, see Defining the Simulation Model.

The Sim Model Standard toolbar provides three relevant controls when direct editing:

  •  - Save Active Document. Use this button to save the changes made to the document. This is required before you can release the document back to the vault.
  •  - Release Document. Use this button to release the defined ssimulation model to the vault, storing it within the initial (planned) revision of the target Simulation Model Item. The Create Revision dialog will appear, in which you can change Comment, Description, and add release notes as required. The document and editor will close after the release. The document containing the source simulation model definition, *.SimModel, will be stored in the revision of the Item.
  •  - Cancel Editing. Use this button if you wish to cancel editing. The document and editor will close, and nothing will be released to the target Simulation Model Item.

The released data stored in the vault consists of the model definition in the .SimModel file, as well as any referenced .mdl or .ckt file. For a modeled digital component, there will be the intermediate .mdl file, as well as the referenced Digital SimCode .scb file. For a SIMetrix or SIMPLIS model, there will be the referenced .lb file. In the Vaults panel, switch to the Preview aspect view, then click on a referenced file to view a preview of its content. Model-level parameters will also be presented, where applicable.

Browse the released revision of the Simulation Model Item, back in the Vaults panel. Switch to the Preview aspect view to see the released data.

An .scb file typically contains multiple SimCode models. When the simulation model definition is released, the .scb file - released and stored with the SimModel file in the vault - is stripped back to include only the single SimCode model referenced by the simulation model definition, and not the full listing of models.
Unlike a released .scb file, the released .lb file (associated with a released SIMetrix/SIMPLIS model) is not stripped back to contain only the referenced model.

Defining the Simulation Model

The information required to define the model in a SimModel file is as follows:

  • Model Name - use this field to specify the name of the model. When released back into the vault, this entry will be used as the Simulation Model Item Revision's Comment.
This must be the name, as it appears in any referenced model or subcircuit file.

When referencing an MDL file, the name must be that appearing in the .MODEL line of the model's definition. Consider a model for a diode with the following definition:

.MODEL 1N4002 D(IS=2.55E-9 RS=0.042 N=1.75 TT=5.76E-6 CJO=1.85E-11 + VJ=0.75 M=0.333 BV=100 IBV=1E-5 )

The model name here is 1N4002. This is the name that must be entered into the Model Name field.

When referencing a CKT file, the name must be that appearing in the .SUBCKT line of the model's definition. Consider a model for a fuse with the following definition:

.SUBCKT FUSE 1 2 PARAMS: CURRENT=1 RESISTANCE=1m SW1 1 2 3 0 SMOD OFF BNLV 3 0 V=(abs(v(1,2)))



The model name here is FUSE. This is the name that must be entered into the Model Name field.

  • Kind - this drop-down gives access to a number of model categories containing the range of analog device models built-in to SPICE.
  • Sub Kind - this drop-down lists all model types in a chosen category.
  • Spice Prefix - the required prefix for this type of model. Automatically selected for all model Kind/Sub-Kind selections, unless Sub-Kind is set to Generic Editor.
  • Model File - for a model that has been defined using a .mdl or .ckt file, including an intermediary .mdl file used to link to a Digital SimCode definition (in a .scb file), use this field to browse to and nominate the required file. If using a SIMetrix or SIMPLIS model, browse to and nominate the required .lb file (see Support for SIMetrix/SIMPLIS Models).
  • Description - enter a description of the model, for example its purpose. When released back into the vault, this entry will be used as the Simulation Model Item Revision's Description.
  • Netlist Template - displays the information that is entered into the XSpice netlist for a given component. For all of the predefined model kinds and sub-kinds, the Netlist Template is read-only. If, however, one of these predefined entries does not allow enough control over the information placed in the netlist, you can define your own template. To edit the Template, you need to select Generic Editor in the Sub-Kind field, ensuring that the Kind field is first set to General. For all other model sub-kinds, you can effectively change to General/Generic Editor and edit the predefined template, massaging it to your own requirements.
  • Netlist Preview - read-only display of the text exactly as it will be written to the XSpice netlist file when a netlist is generated or a simulation is run.
  • Model Preview - read-only display of the content of the referenced .mdl or .ckt file.
  • Parameters - model-level parameters for the model (see Model-Level Parameters).

Model-Level Parameters

Where applicable, model-level parameters can be defined directly within the SimModel file, since they are naturally part of a model's definition. The Parameters region of the document will automatically populate with parameters applicable to the chosen model Kind/Sub Kind. Parameter values can be edited in two ways:

  • In-Place Editing - click on the Parameter Value field associated to a parameter in the list and enter the required value directly.
  • Dialog-based Editing - click the Edit Parameters button, located below the Parameters region, to access the SimModel Parameters dialog. Parameters applicable to the chosen model Kind/Sub Kind will be presented. Edit the values for these as required. After clicking OK, the Parameters region will be updated with this information.
For the built-in SPICE3f5, supported PSpice, and subcircuit model kinds, the available parameters will automatically be listed in the Parameters region (and SimModel Parameters dialog). When using the Generic Editor, controls for adding and removing parameters are provided directly below the region (and in the SimModel Parameters dialog).

Define parameters for the model as part of its definition - either directly using in-place editing, or through the SimModel Parameters dialog.

When a simulation-ready vault component is placed in a design, a simulation parameter can have a different value at the component-level, to that for the same parameter at the model-level. When the netlist is generated, the component-level parameter will have priority. Component-level parameters are naturally defined as part of the source component definition, within a Component Library.

Support for SIMetrix/SIMPLIS Models

Simulation model definitions referencing SIMetrix or SIMPLIS models can also be released to an Altium Vault. Two aspects to bear in mind when using these types of models are:

  • The Model Name must have a prefix of either SIMetrix_ or SIMPLIS_ respectively. This helps to distinguish between models targeted to these different simulators.
  • The Model File field must point to the underlying model file (*.lb), in which the SIMetrix/SIMPLIS model is defined.
Whereas the model files (*.ckt and *.mdl) used by Altium Designer's built in Simulator usually contain one model each, SIMetrix/SIMPLIS model files (*.lb) contain dozens or even hundreds of models.

Example definitions for SIMetrix and SIMPLIS simulation models.

Reusing a Managed Simulation Model Item

Related page: Managed Components in an Altium Vault , Controlling Access to Vault Content

Once a simulation model definition has been released to an Altium Vault, and its lifecycle state set to a level that the organization views as ready for use at the design level, that model can be reused in the creation of one or more vault components . When directly editing a Component Item from a vault, a Simulation Model Item revision is added for use to the resulting Component Library's Model Links region. This region can be thought of in terms of a 'bucket' of domain models that can be accessed by any component definition in the Component Library document. Assignment is simply a case of specifying which links are required for each definition.

Example of referencing a revision of a Simulation Model Item as a model link in a Component Library, when direct editing the definition for a Component Item (vault component).

You can edit a Simulation Model Item revision directly from the Model Links region by right-clicking and choosing the Edit command from the context menu.

Re-Releasing a Simulation Model Item

At any stage, you can come back to any revision of a Simulation Model Item in the vault, and edit it directly. Simply right-click on the revision and choose the Edit command from the context menu. Once again, the temporary editor will open, with the file (containing the source simulation model definition) contained in the revision, opened for editing. Make changes as required, then commit the release of the document into the next revision of the item.

Right-clicking on the top-level entry for an Item itself, will edit the latest revision of that Item.

Accessing the command to launch direct editing of an existing revision of a Simulation Model Item.

Updating Related Component Items

When you make a change to a vault-based domain model - be it a symbol, footprint model, or simulation model - the moment you release that change into a new revision of the model's Item, any Component Items that use that model will become effectively out of date, still using the previous revision. In most cases, you will no doubt want to re-release those components, with the respective model links updated to use the latest revisions available. To streamline this process, Altium Vault, in conjunction with Altium Designer, facilitates the ability to update related Component Items - at the point of re-releasing a model Item - after having made any modifications to that model through the direct editing feature.

The option to perform this update to the parent Component Items, can be found in the Create Revision dialog, that appears when releasing the modified simulation model definition back to the target Altium Vault. This option - Update items related to <ModelItemRevision> - is enabled by default.

<ModelItemRevision> is the current revision of the model Item, that is, the revision currently being used by any related Component Items. Once the model itself is released, this would naturally be the previous (earlier) revision, and no longer the latest.

Accessing the option to update related Component Items, that are referencing the Simulation Model Item
being re-released.

If you want to keep all related Component Items using the current revision of the Simulation Model Item, simply disable this option. Only the model itself will then be released.

Once you click OK in the Create Revision dialog, the modified simulation model definition is released back to the vault, and its associated temporary editor closed. A Component Library document is then opened in its associated temporary editor (for direct editing), presenting the following:

  • Definitions for all components that are associated to (reference) the Simulation Model Item.
  • The Model Links region shows the latest (just released) revision for that Simulation Model Item.
  • The entry for the linked model - in the applicable Models field of each component definition - is set to use that latest revision of the just-released Simulation Model Item.
When multiple Component Items use the Simulation Model Item, rather than separate instances of Component Libraries being opened, a single CmpLib document presents a merged view of the world, with all parameters and model links - used by the source component definitions - presented.

Example of pushing a change made to a Simulation Model Item, through to a Component Item that references it.

Unless you need to make any further adjustments, simply click the  button (in the editor's standard toolbar), to release the modified definition(s) into new revision(s) of the corresponding Component Item(s), back in the target vault:

  • If only a single Component Item is affected, the Create Revision dialog will appear. Change Comment, Description, and add release notes as required. After clicking OK, the release will proceed, and the temporary Component Library editor then closed.
  • If multiple Component Items are affected, the Release Manager dialog will appear. This lists all component Items that are scheduled to be released - by default all enabled for inclusion in the release. Make any changes - to Comment, Description, and inclusion (Enabled option) - as required, then click the Release Items button. View the impending release changes in the subsequent Confirm Release dialog, then click OK. Once the release process completes - indicated by Release Successful in the applicable Action-Status field(s) - close the dialog. The temporary Component Library editor will also then be closed.

Downloading Released Data

Download the data stored in a revision of a Simulation Model Item by right-clicking on that revision and choosing the Operations » Download command from the context menu. The applicable files will be downloaded into a sub-folder under the chosen directory, named using the Item Revision name. The file can be found in the Released folder therein.

Access the Download command from the top-level entry for a Simulation Model Item itself, to download the file(s) stored in the latest revision of that Item.
Click the Explore button in the Download from Vault dialog, to quickly explore to the download folder.

Migrating Existing Schematic Libraries

Main page: Streamlined Migration of Existing Libraries to an Altium Vault

Altium Designer, in conjunction with Altium Vault (3.0 or later) provides a streamlined, simple process to quickly migrate your existing libraries to an Altium Vault. The GUI to this process - the Library Migrator view - presents an intuitive flow that takes initial selected libraries, and migrates them to a target Altium Vault. Catering for all types of libraries, relating to older component management methodologies - SCHLIB, PCBLIB, INTLIB, DBLIB, SVNDBLIB - the Library Migrator is the perfect solution to quickly building your company's set of vault components, and the many benefits that such components enjoy (high-integrity, lifecycle management, centralized storage and management, where-used functionality, ease of design resuse). And while the migration process can be configured - giving you enhanced control over how that migration is performed - at its most simplistic, you can simply accept the default settings and set the migration in motion within a matter of clicks.

All information that is present in an original source library is migrated, in order to arrive at a folder of unified components (vault components that have assigned part choices), with all referenced domain models (schematic symbols, PCB footprints, 3D Models, Simulation Models), and parametric information. Component templates can even be created, and used to create those vault components. And if your original components have multiple PCB footprints defined, you can rest assured that the Library Migrator will bring those models across, and keep the current default footprint too.

Accessing the Library Migrator view - the user interface to the component migration process.

While migration may seem daunting, the defaults have been defined to enable you to get your collection of vault components without having to change a thing - start the process and design with the fruits of the Migrator's labor. The system conducts and handles a number of validations, for example to ensure no duplicate IDs for the resulting vault components, or to ensure no duplicate models or component templates are created, and that such entities are reused across (linked to) components where needed. And if issues do arise, the system flags them, with suggestions on how to resolve those issues, aiming to get the migration back on track as quickly, and as smoothly as possible.

Batch Releasing File-based Simulation Model Files

If you have a set of file-based simulation model definitions (*.SimModel) that you need to release to a target Altium Vault quickly, and simultaneously, then you can use Altium Designer's Release Manager. Use it to batch-release simulation definitions stored across multiple source documents, in a nominated source folder location.

The Release Manager is considered to be a legacy tool. It is highly recommended to use the Library Migrator when migrating your existing component libraries into an Altium Vault.

Accessed the Release Manager dialog by running the File » Release Manager command.

Release simulation model definitions, stored in one or more source documents, using the Release Manager.

Setting up for release couldn't be simpler:

  • Set the Document Type to SIMMODEL.
  • Point to a top-level folder containing the simulation model files you want to release. Files can be stored in sub-folders within this folder.
  • Choose the target vault.
  • Choose to create a top-level folder in the vault based on the nominated top-level Windows folder, or choose an existing vault folder. You can optionally create sub-folders in the nominated vault folder, for each Windows sub-folder. Additionally, you can opt to create a vault folder for each source simulation model file.
  • Use the Default Options for New Released Simulation Models region of the Release Manager to control how required new Items are created as part of the release process - in terms of Lifecycle Definition, Item Naming (default is SIM-{00000}) and Item Revision Naming schemes, and starting index.
  • Hit the Analyze Folders button.

Analysis of source folders and target vault folders (and Items) based on your chosen options will be performed and the source simulation model files detected will be listed. For each entry, the target Item will be displayed, its current and/or next revision (as applicable) and the action that will be performed by the release process.

Enable the simulation model definitions that you want to release and then click the Prepare Items and Documents button to effectively commit the link information to the source simulation model files involved in the release. Once saved, proceed with the release by clicking the Release Items button.

The Release Manager can also be used to quickly generate SimModel files, en masse, from a nominated folder of Schematic Library documents. With the Schematic Libraries loaded, simply use the Generate SimModel Files command from the Migration Tools drop-down menu. SimModel files can also be generated from the active schematic library document, or database library document, using the Tools » Generate SimModel Files command.
Auto-generated SimModel files have their model definitions specified, but vault-Item link information left undefined. This enables you to use the Release Manager to release into new Items - created as part of the release process - without having to create Simulation Model Items in the vault ahead of time.


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