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You are on page 1of 5

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)

page - 2 of 2

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

page - 3 of 3

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

page - 4 of 4

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

page - 5 of 5

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

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