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Dr.

Eric Bogatin
26235 W 110
th
Terr.
Olathe, KS 66061
Voice: 913-393-1305
Fax: 913-393-1306
eric@bogent.com
www.bogatinenterprises.com


Rules of Thumb I Have Known and Loved

By

Dr. Eric Bogatin
Bogatin Enterprises

Oct 31, 1999


Introduction
So much of life is a constant balancing act between value received at what cost
in time and money. The analysis of all signal integrity design problems, as well
as in most other fields, is no exception. We are constantly balancing the quality
of an answer, as measured by its accuracy, for example, with how long it will
take to get the result and how much it will cost.

I like to categorize all the various analysis techniques into three families:

Analysis Technique Example


Rules of Thumb: Feeds your
intuition, useful for order of
magnitude estimating

Self inductance ~25 nH/inch


1
st
order approximations:
Analytic approximations,
useful for quick estimates and
early design tradeoffs


nH

t

w

d

d

L

self

1

]

1






+



,

_







+



2

1

2

ln

5





Numerical simulation: field
solver, parasitic extraction,
SPICE, IBIS simulations, can
base a design on this (such
as Ansofts)







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BOGATIN ENTERPRISES 26235 W. 110
th
Terr. Olathe, KS 66061
(v) 913-393-1305; (f) 913-393-1306; (e) eric@bogent.com
www.bogatinenterprise.com
They each represent a different balance of closeness to reality, i.e., accuracy,
and time and effort required to get to the answer. Of course, they are not a
substitute for actual measurements. However, the correct application of the right
analysis technique can sometimes shorten the design cycle time to 10% of its
original value, compared to relying on the build it - test it - redesign it approach.

Rules of thumb should be the first step in any analysis problem, if only to provide
a sanity check number that every answer should be compared with. If your
simulation predicts 1.5v of cross talk noise, and your rule of thumb predicts 150
mV, you should probably check the assumptions that went into your simulation.

The goal in virtually all product design programs in todays globally competitive
market is to get to an acceptable design that meets the performance spec while
staying within the time, cost and risk budget. This is a tough challenge, and the
engineer involved in signal integrity and interconnect design can benefit from
gaining skill and versatility in using all three of these analysis tools, each in its
appropriate place. In this paper, we review the role of rules of thumb and offer a
large collection of the more commonly used rules of thumb for signal integrity
analysis.


Rules of Thumb
Rules of thumb are not designed to offer answers that are accurate. They are
designed to offer answers that are quick- as in no time and no effort involved.
They are also designed to be easy to remember. Never use a rule of thumb to
sign off on a design. Never base an important final decision on the results from a
rule of thumb.

However, when you are brainstorming design/technology cost tradeoffs, looking
for rough estimates and comparison, or plausibility arguments, versatility in
using rules of thumb can accelerate your progress by better than 10 fold. After
all, the closer to the beginning of the product development cycle the right design
and technology decisions can be made, the more time and money will be saved
for the project.

For most planar interconnects, the characteristic impedance scales with the
aspect ratio- the ratio of the line width, w, to a dielectric thickness, h. A common
rule of thumb for a 50 Ohm microstrip line in FR4, for example, is keep the line
width to dielectric thickness in the ratio of 2:1. An 8 mil line would require a 4 mil
thick dielectric. It turns out that this rule of thumb is accurate to better than 10%,
so it is a pretty good rule of thumb, but not all rules of thumb offer such high
value for such low cost.

They also usually relate to a specific case. The more common the special case,
the more useful the rule of thumb. If you have a design problem where you are

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BOGATIN ENTERPRISES 26235 W. 110
th
Terr. Olathe, KS 66061
(v) 913-393-1305; (f) 913-393-1306; (e) eric@bogent.com
www.bogatinenterprise.com
worrying about whether the line width should be 8 mils or 9 mils, you should not
use a rule of thumb to base the decision.

They are wonderful when trying to get ballpark numbers to do a first pass at total
stack up thickness, for example, or when doing the "is it reasonable?" test, which
should be the first step when you calculate any quantity.


The following is a collection of some of the rules of thumb I commonly use,
combined with my engineering judgment, to calibrate my intuition and get
answers quickly, with very little effort. If you also understand the principles
behind the rules of thumb and how the terms scale, you can extend your intuition
to many more situations than the specific special case called out in the rule of
thumb.


What it relates to Rule of thumb Variables/comments
Bandwidth of a signal
with rise time,
BW = 1/()
BW = bandwidth of the
signal
= rise time of the signal
Bandwidth of a clock
waveform, just based on
the clock frequency
BW = 5 x F
clock

Assumes rise time is 7%
clock period
Rise time of a clock
waveform, given its
frequency
= 1/(10 F
clock
) = rise time of edge
Amplitude of the first
three odd harmonics of a
1 v square waves
spectrum
0.6, 0.2, 0.12
Amplitude goes as
~ 0.6 x 1/f

50 Ohm characteristic
impedance microstrip in
FR4

w/h = 2
w = line width
h = dielectric thickness
below
50 Ohm characteristic
impedance stripline in
FR4
w/b = 1
w = line width
b = total dielectric
thickness between the
plates
50 Ohm characteristic
impedance dual stripline
in FR4
w/h1 = 1
w = line width
h1 = dielectric thickness
below signal line, and 2 x
h1 above

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BOGATIN ENTERPRISES 26235 W. 110
th
Terr. Olathe, KS 66061
(v) 913-393-1305; (f) 913-393-1306; (e) eric@bogent.com
www.bogatinenterprise.com
Speed of light in most
polymer interconnects
6 inches/nsec
Assumes dielectric
constant is 4
Wiring delay in most
polymer interconnects
TD = 160 psec/inches
Assumes dielectric
constant is 4
Spatial extent of leading
edge
Len (inches) = 6 x rise
time (nsec)
Assumes dielectric
constant is 4
Minimum number of
lumped circuit sections
per rise time
3
Modeling a transmission
line as a series of
sections of lumped circuit
models
Spacing of vias in a
guard trace to suppress
all induced noise
Spacing (inches) < 2 x
rise time (nsec)
Assumes 3 vias per
spatial extent of the rise
time

Maximum unterminated
line in FR4
Len
max
(inches) < 2 x
(nsec)
TD < 20%
Maximum stub in FR4 Len
stub
(inches) < (nsec)
For < 3% NEXT in FR4
microstrip
s < 3 x h
s = separation between
the traces, h = dielectric
thickness below the trace
For < 3% NEXT in FR4
stripline
s < 2/3 x b
s = separation between
the traces, b = total
dielectric thickness

Capacitance per length
of 50 Ohm line in FR4
3.5 pF/in
Loop inductance per
length of 50 Ohm line in
FR4
9 nH/inch
Maximum capacitive
discontinuity load before
signal integrity problems
arise
3 pF x rise time (nsec)
Roughly the capacitance
of the longest allowable
stub
Capacitive load
associated with a corner
in trace, 10 mils wide
20 fF
Scales roughly with width
of trace, assumes 50
Ohm line
Rise time at which a
corner plays a significant
signal integrity role
10 psec
Maximum inductive
discontinuity before
signal integrity problems
arise
9 nH x rise time (nsec)
Roughly the inductance
of the longest allowable
stub

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BOGATIN ENTERPRISES 26235 W. 110
th
Terr. Olathe, KS 66061
(v) 913-393-1305; (f) 913-393-1306; (e) eric@bogent.com
www.bogatinenterprise.com
Partial self inductance
per length of a 1 mil
diameter wire
25 nH/inch Wire bond, for example
Loop inductance per inch
of circumference of
circular loop
25 nH/inch
For wire about 10 mil in
diameter
Loop inductance per
square of two planes,
separated by 1 mil
33 pH per square
Power and ground
planes, for example
Mutual inductance
between two conductors,
when s < len
<10% L
self

Mutual inductance
between two vias, 30
mils long, on 50 mil
centers, is negligible
Capacitance per sq inch
of two planes, separated
by 1 mil, in air
225 pF
Increases with dielectric
constant, inversely with
separation
Sheet resistance of 1 oz
copper, R
sq

0.5 mOhms/sq
Resistance of any trace
is number of squares x
R
sq

Thickness of 1 oz copper 1.4 mils, 30 microns
Skin depth of copper at 1
GHz
2 microns
Scales with 1/sqrt(f)
Skin depth dominates
over geometrical
thickness for 1 oz copper
at about 10 MHz.

Average resistive load 1
watt chip presents to
power and ground
distribution at 3.3v
10 Ohms
Peak or typical
resistance may be 25% -
50% of this value,
depending on switching
behavior
Decoupling capacitance
required to keep voltage
noise less than 5% Vcc,
at 1 MHz for 1 watt chip
1 F
Assumes peak
impedance chip
represents is 5 Ohms, up
to the switching
bandwidth
Impedance of 1 nH
inductance at 100 MHz
1 Ohm
If each decoupling cap
has an effective
inductance of 2 nH, may
require at least 10
decoupling caps just to
get low enough
impedance at 100 MHz