I am working on microwave power amplifier design for 2.45 GHz, 300 W using LDMOS (part no.:MHT1004N). I am using Agilent's ADS for the simulations. I want to know what exactly is harmonic balance simulations?

Observation: When I vary the order of the simulation from lower to higher value, my simulations more accurately match to that of the datasheet value of the given transistor. At lower values of the order the circuit fails to simulate.

Doubts: What is the significance of this order? How does it affects the simulation? And what can I expect when I realize the RF-PA? What type of source I'll need to use to make sure the physical realization and the simulations match to an extent?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Not a duplicate as such, but see this question from the OP for more detail electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/285348/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Neil_UK
    Feb 15, 2017 at 7:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Those are a lot of questions for one question... Maybe you want to make it easier/more attractive to answer by focusing one one central question, and remove or clearly mark as corollary, the others? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 15, 2017 at 7:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Neil_UK, that question I had asked to validate whether my simulations are correct. I re-did the whole thing and realized, the order of the simulation is playing a major role, so I want a clarity on this. Marcus, is the question understandable after an edit or should I ask only one question? \$\endgroup\$
    – voyager
    Feb 15, 2017 at 8:37

1 Answer 1


Harmonic balance simulation is an attempt to handle non-linear devices in an S-parameter situation.

Crudely what happens is this.

a) The input voltages/currents are applied to the non-linearities, and solved with a SPICE-like solver, to get the complex amplitudes of the harmonics, which are then used as sources for travelling waves.

b) Then the normal linear matrix is solved for travelling waves at each harmonic individually, by a conventional S-parameter solver.

c) Then the waves are added up again at each node to get voltage and current, which is where we came in, rinse and repeat, until convergence.

It is better than ignoring the non-linearities, and better than ignoring the S-parameters, but still only an estimate of what is really happening.

Obviously if we use only the first few harmonics (low order), the situation is under-modelled and the fit will be poor. What is less obvious is that if we ask for a high order and use too many harmonics, the situation may be 'over-modelled', a common problem in model fitting, where the model strives to model minor errors and so departs from a 'best estimate' of what is going on.

Of course many of the parameters that go into the models are not directly measured, but have been inferred from fitting a simulation to a measurement. In addition, some of the parameters that matter up to (say) the 10th harmonic of 2450MHz are not very repeatable, and will vary wildly between NXP's calibration measurements and your simulations or prototypes. A mounting position error of (say) 0.2mm is irrelevant at 2450MHz, but becomes increasingly significant at higher order.

Have a healthy respect for the existence of errors and discrepancies from all sources when trying to understand data sheets and simulations, and your prototypes for that matter.

The change in modelling performance of harmonic balance as you adjust the order could give you a clue as to how well it's going to model reality.


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