Electronics & Test

How Current Return Paths Affect Signal Integrity

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Design Tip for layer changes
TakenItEasy   6/25/2016 8:30:52 PM
One of the most common errors Ive seen for high speed signals is when a designer changes layers and therefore reference planes, which is equivalent to routing over a gap in the plane. As you mentioned one option is to use an ac coupling cap if the two planes are power and gnd, however make sure you use a suitable value and package (low parasitics). Also make sure the power plane is one that supplies the driver/receiver. A much easier option is when referencing two different ground planes. In this case, all you beed to do is to place a gnd via adjacent to the signal via. If it is the opposite side of the same gnd plane you are fine as is. Its true that the skin effect keeps the surfaces as seperate planes but the signal should be able to get through the isolation hole that clears your via. One correction: signals dont move through the trece at the drift speed of electrons, they are energy waves carried by photons that propagate through the substrate between the signal trace and plane at the speed of light.

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