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Signal Integrity

A major issue when it comes to high-speed PCB layout guidelines is signal integrity. Loss of signal integrity with PCB units has long been an ongoing concern, so it’s important to keep signal integrity PCB layout considerations in mind when manufacturing, selling or purchasing printed circuit boards.

Signal Integrity Issues and Printed Circuit Boards

Frequency

At low frequencies, you should not experience any major problems with signal integrity. However, with increasing signal speeds, you get higher frequencies, which can affect both the analog and digital properties of the system. You may experience reflections, ground bounce, crosstalk and ringing at higher frequencies, which can seriously damage the integrity of your signal.

If you anticipate higher frequencies, you need to consider transmission line effects on the I/O signaling in your board design.

Speed

Naturally, the relationship between speed and frequency is one you need to keep in mind. Lower speeds mean lower frequencies and fewer signal transmission problems, while faster speeds mean higher frequencies and the attendant problems that can come with them.

Length

Another issue to consider when it comes to transmission and signal integrity is the length of the transmission medium. The longer the transmission medium, the greater the chance there’s some type of signal loss.

Fortunately, these and most other signal integrity issues can be counteracted by a quality design and by keeping some basic layout guidelines in mind when designing your printed circuit boards.

Main Signal Integrity PCB Layout Considerations

Extensive research has been done on the best way to design transmission lines so high-speed signals can travel at maximum efficiency. To reduce potential problems with signal integrity and other transmission issues, it’s important to make sure your PCB supplier provides boards with a strong design.

Below are some of the guidelines that have been published by many different sources, such as Texas Instruments, that address high-speed signals such as clock signals and their routing and gives designers a review of the important coherences. Because many things can affect transmission lines, EMI problems can occur. In order to reduce these problems, good PCB design is important — and with some simple design rules, the PCB designer can minimize these problems.

When approaching your PCBs, the designer should start by asking a few basic questions, including:

  • Are there sensitive signals and will those sensitive signals require a stripline, or is a microstrip sufficient?
  • How high is the frequency and how fast can the system get?
  • What are the electrical specs at sinks and source inputs and outputs?
  • How many different supply voltages are there and do they each need their own power plane?
  • What are the minimum widths, separations and heights for the traces and what is the minimum distance between layers?
  • Are there interconnections between at least two independent functional groups?
  • What are the via requirements? Are blind and or buried vias possible?

 

Printed Circuit Board Construction Considerations

For high-speed circuit boards, you’ll want to make sure you have multilayers with buried ground and power supply planes. To keep device ground and power connections short to reduce transmission length and the likelihood of errors, solid copper planes can be very useful, and the ground plane provides low-inductance return paths for your high-speed signals.

Millennium Circuits Limited, a leading expert in printed circuit board supply, can provide you with PCBs designed to allow high-speed transmission with reduced loss of signal integrity, and can help you determine which component packages are best suited to your business needs.

PCB Signal Integrity Tips

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when it comes to the design of efficient printed circuit boards:

  • Right angles: Avoid right angles in your traces because they increase capacitance in that region, leading to impedance changes and reflections. 45-degree angles are better and round bends are ideal.
  • Vias: Although vias can be vitally important to routings, they add inductance and capacitance and lead to reflections. They also increase trace length, so use them sparingly and avoid vias in differential traces.
  • Signal Separation: Keep your high-speed and low-speed signals apart from each other. Separate your digital and analog signals as well. Route signals 90 degrees to each other to minimize crosstalk.

PCB Laminate Selection

Another important consideration is laminate. Although FR4 PCB laminate is a common choice because of its cost-effectiveness, it may affect the integrity of the digital signal at higher speeds.

For higher frequencies, you may want to consider a higher-speed laminate like Rogers RO4350. These laminates will have better properties for higher frequencies and make it easier for you to reach your design target. The downside is that this type of laminate comes at a considerably higher cost.

Millennium Circuits Limited for All Your Printed Circuit Board Needs

If you need quality, reliable, high-speed printed circuit boards delivered to you fast, the company to contact is Millennium Circuits Limited (MCL). We’ve been delivering state-of-the-art circuit boards for a variety of different products and industries for over ten years, and over that time we’ve developed a powerful reputation for great customer service, fantastic PCB and PCB-related products and affordable and easy shipping.

MCL can help you complete your project seamlessly with just the right printed circuit boards and related products for your needs, with 99 percent on-time delivery and highly trained technicians that make sure every printed circuit board that leaves our facility adheres to the most rigid quality assurance standards we can apply.

Contact Millennium Circuits Limited Today

If you’re in need of reliable printed circuit boards that can facilitate low-frequency, low-speed as well as high-frequency, high-speed projects without excessive loss of signal integrity, you’re in business! Contact Millennium Circuits Limited today for a completely free quote on PCB goods and services for your business.

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