Free Electronic Circuit Simulation Software

Free and Open Source Circuit Simulators


Free Electronic Circuit Simulation Software / Circuit Simulators

The free and/or open source electronic circuit simulation software on this page allow you to design, analyse and test a circuit virtually on a computer. They simulate the behaviour ("behavior" in US English) of an electronic device/circuit, and are often used because it is cheaper, quicker and often more practical to simulate a circuit than to physically build one. The programs below may provide either analogue ("analog") or digital simulation capabilities or both, have a schematic editor, a waveform viewer, support resistors, capacitors, diodes, etc. (Please read the individual description of each program for the actual features provided with different programs.)

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Free Electronic Circuit Simulation Software / Circuit Simulators

SPICE: Spice2, Spice3, KSPICE, JSPICE (Unix-based systems, MSDOS)

SPICE is probably one of the best known circuit simulators around. It supports non-linear DC and transient, and linear AC analyses. To quote from its documentation, your circuits may contain "resistors, capacitors, inductors, mutual inductors, independent voltage and current sources, four types of dependent sources, lossless and lossy transmission lines (two separate implementations), switches, uniform distributed RC lines, and the five most common semiconductor devices: diodes, BJTs, JFETs, MESFETs, and MOSFETs". The program is made up of two parts: the back-end simulator and a front-end user interface, called Nutmeg, that displays information for data analysis and plotting. Spice3 is released under the BSD licence ("license"). KSPICE, also available from the above page, is based on a version of SPICE3, has "improved transient analysis of lossy transmission lines". JSPICE is a simulator for superconductor and semiconductor circuits and incorporates the Josephson junction model. Note that all the programs are released in source code form. You will need a compiler to create the executables to run on your system. For Spice3, you will need a C compiler that can compile K&R C, not ANSI C. The GNU gcc apparently works. The program works on Unix-type systems and MSDOS.

MacSpice (Mac OS, Mac OS X)

This is a Mac version of the SPICE circuit simulator (see elsewhere on this page for more information about SPICE). It works on both the Intel Macs as well as the older PowerPC Macs. You provide a list of components and the nodes these components connect to (called a "network list" or "netlist"), either using a text editor or a schematic capture application, run the command interpreter, and MacSpice builds a numerical model of the circuit and analyses it. The program appears to be free for non-commercial use only (that is, although it uses Spice3 which is open source, the overall Mac port seems to have a more restrictive licence).

Ngspice (Linux, FreeBSD)

Ngspice is a mixed level, mixed signal circuit simulation engine, based on Spice, Cider and XSpice (see elsewhere on this page). It works on Linux and FreeBSD systems. The program is released under the GNU General Public License.

Qucs: Quite Universal Circuit Simulator (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, NetBSD)

Qucs is an integrated circuit simulator with a graphical user interface (GUI). You can basically set up the circuit using the GUI, and the backend program will take your network list and simulate the signal and noise behaviour of the circuit. The data output, the simulation results, can then be displayed. The program is released under the GNU General Public License in source code form, so you will need to compile it yourself before you can run it.

Cider (Unix-based systems)

CIDER is a mixed-level circuit and device simulator. Devices are described with technology parameters or SPICE's compact models. It is released in source code form, and you will need a C compiler to create the executable before you can use it. It was tested under Ultrix, SunOS, AIX, and Unix, although the authors expect that the program should compile under other Unix-type systems. Note that Cider has been incorporated in Ngspice, listed elsewhere on this page, which runs on Linux.

XSPICE (Unix-based systems)

XSPICE is an extension to SPICE (also listed on this Free Circuit Simulation Software page) that includes the ability to use code modelling ("modeling") as well as simulate of digital components through an embedded event driven algorithm. Its code model library includes functional blocks like multipliers, summers, integrators, magnetics models, limiters, S-domain transfer functions, digital gates, etc. The program is provided in source code form, and is released into the public domain.

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