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The impedance gradient of power planes around bypass capacitors

depends on the impedance of planes and the loss of bypass capacitor.

by Istvan Novak, Ph.D.

Senior Signal Integrity Staff Engineer

Sun Microsystems

istvan.novak@sun.com

More designers are determining the requirements

and completing the design of power distribution

networks (PDN) for FPGAs and CPUs in the frequency domain. Although the ultimate goal is to

keep the time-domain voltage fluctuation (noise)

on the PDN under a pre-determined maximum

level, the transient noise current that creates the

noise fluctuations may have many independent and

highly uncertain components, which in a complex

system are hard to predict or measure.

00

Xcell Journal

Summer 2004

Bypass Capacitor

often forget to analyze our PDN

designs against component tolerances. In this article, well show

how tolerances of bypass-capacitor

parameters, such as capacitance

(C), effective series resistance

(ESR), effective series inductance

(ESL), and capacitor location

impact the impedance of PDNs.

Power Planes

Active Device

Test Point 1

PCB

Test Point 2

three capacitors, and one pair of power planes

ESR

ESL

circuit of bypass capacitors

with two test points. In the frequency

domain, you can describe this network

with a two-by-two impedance matrix,

where the indices refer to the test points.

Z11 and Z22 are the self impedances at test

points 1 and 2, respectively, and Z12 and

Z21 are the transfer impedances between

test points 1 and 2.

With very few exceptions, the PDN

components are electrically reciprocal;

therefore the two transfer impedances are

identical, and can be replaced with a mutual impedance term:

Z12 = Z21 = ZM.

You cannot assume electrical symmetry, however, so Z11 and Z22 are, in general, different. You can calculate the noise

voltages at test points 1 and 2 generated

by the noise currents of I1(t) and I2(t) of

the two active devices with the following

formula:

V 1(t) = Z 11I 1(t) + Z MI 2(t)

V 2(t) = Z MI 1(t) + Z 22I 2(t)

(DC/DC, AC/DC converters, batteries);

low- and medium-frequency bypass capacitors; PCB planes or other metal structures

(a collection of traces or patches); packages

with their PDN components; and the

PDN elements of the silicon [2]. When

dealing with board-level PDN, its impedance contributions to the overall PDN performance are much more stable and

Summer 2004

giving the C, ESR, and ESL values

assumed for the part. The SRF and Q values are also shown for each part. With these

numbers, the 100 uF part could be a tantalum brick; the 1 uF and 0.1 uF parts could

be multi-layer ceramic capacitors (MLCC).

When connecting capacitors with different SRFs in parallel, they may create

anti-resonance peaks where the impedance

magnitude exceeds the lower boundary of

the composing capacitors impedance magnitude values [4] [5]. The impedance

penalty gets bigger as the Q of capacitors

gets bigger, or as their SRFs are farther

apart in frequency.

The anti-resonance peaks get even bigger when you consider the possible tolerances associated with the capacitor

parameters. We illustrate this in Figure 4,

which shows what happens in typical, best,

and worst cases when you connect the three

capacitors from Figure 3 in parallel. The

plot assumes no connection impedance or

delay between the capacitors. You can use

this assumption as long as the distance

between the capacitors is much less than

the wavelength of higher frequency of

interest, and the connecting series plane

impedance is much less than the impedance of capacitors.

The frequency plot extends up to 100

Figure 2 shows the simple equivalent circuit of a bypass capacitor when neglecting

the parallel leakage of the capacitor. The

series capacitor-resistor-inductor circuit

shows a resonance frequency with a given

quality factor (Q). You can calculate the

series resonance frequency (SRF) and Q

from the equations below:

ESL

1

C

SRF =

; Q=

ESR

2 C * ESL

Although in a general case all three elements in the equivalent circuit are frequency-dependent [3], for the sake of simplicity,

and because it would not change the conclusions of this article, well use frequencyindependent constant parameters.

Figure 3 shows the impedance magnitudes of three different capacitors you

1.E+00

1.E-01

100 uF

1 uF

0.1 uF

0.1 Ohm

0.02 Ohm

0.05 Ohm

10 nH

3 nH

0.8 nH

Q = 0.1

Q = 2.7

Q = 1.8

1.E-02

1.E-02

1.E-01

1.E+00

1.E+01

1.E+02

Frequency [MHz]

Xcell Journal

00

Max: 0.77

Typ: 0.24

Min: 0.13

1.E+00

Max: 0.22

Typ: 0.11

Min: 0.079

1.E-01

1.E-02

1.E-02

1.E-01

1.E+00

1.E+01

Frequency [MHz]

Figure 4 Typical, highest, and lowest impedance curves of the three parallel

connected capacitors shown in Figure 3

1.E+02

peak increases from 0.24 Ohms to 0.77

Ohms, a 220% increase. The contributors

to the second anti-resonance peak are the

ESR and ESL of the 1 uF capacitor, and the

C and ESR of the 0.1 uF capacitor. The sum

of the tolerances of these four parameters is

145%, but they increase the impedance at

the peak by 220%. This illustrates that the

resonance magnifies the tolerance window.

Bypass Capacitor Range

Bypass capacitors are considered to be

charge reservoir components, and common

wisdom tells you to put them close to the

active device they need to feed. We will

show here that when the capacitor and the

active device are connected with planes, the

ratio of plane impedance and ESR of

capacitor will determine the spatial gradient of impedance around the capacitor.

Even at low frequencies, the impedance

gradient can be significant.

Lets look at the self-impedance distribution over a 2 x 2 plane pair with 50 mil

plane separation. You will get this plane

separation if you have just a few layers in

the board and if they are not placed next to

each other in the stack-up. The characteristic impedance of these planes is approximately 1.7 Ohms. You can calculate the

approximate plane impedance from our

third equation [7]:

nitudes of the individual capacitors with

meters in FR4 PCB dielectrics. This tells us

thin lines. The three heavy lines in the figthat the lumped approximation is valid in

ure represent the maximum, typical, and

this entire frequency range, no matter

minimum values from all possible tolerance

where we place these capacitors on a typipermutations. All three curves exhibit two

cal-size PCB.

peaks: the first around 1 MHz and a secTable 1 lists the percentage tolerance

ond around 10 MHz.

ranges for the C, ESR, and ESL values

The trace representing the typical case

used in Figure 3. We calculated the

has an impedance magnitude of 0.11

impedance curves and tolerance analysis

Ohms and 0.24 Ohms at these peak frewith a simple spreadsheet [6]. The spreadquencies, respectively. Impedance at and

sheet calculates the complex impedance

resulting from the three parallel connected

around the first peak is mostly below the

532 h

Zp =

impedances. During tolerance analysis,

impedance curves of the 100 uF and 1 uF

r P

the spreadsheet steps each parameter syscapacitors. The second peak, however,

tematically though their minimum and

exceeds the lower boundary of the impedwhere Zp is the approximate plane impedmaximum values specified by the tolerance curves of the 1 uF and 0.1 uF capaciance in Ohms and h and P are the plane

ance percentage entered and accumutors by about a factor of two. This is a

separation and plane periphery, respeclates the lowest and highest magnitudes at

typical anti-resonance scenario.

tively, in the same but arbitrary units.

each frequency point.

In a worst-case combination of compoWe assume one piece of capacitor located

For Figure 4, we assume a

in the middle of the

capacitance tolerance of +-20%

planes. MLCC capacitors

C1

tol. [%]

C2

tol. [%]

C3

tol. [%]

for all three capacitors. For ESR,

are available with as much

datasheets usually state the maxas a few hundred uF

Capacitance [uF]: 100

20

1

20

0.1

20

imum value but no minimum,

capacitance in the 1210

-20

-20

-20

so we can assume a +0 to -50%

case style, and their ESR

ESR [Ohms]:

0.1

0

0.02

0

0.05

0

tolerance around the nominal

can be as low as one mil-50

-50

-50

value. ESL strongly depends on

liohm. For this example,

ESL [nH]:

10

25

3

25

0.8

25

both the capacitors construcwe use C = 100 uF, ESR =

-25

-25

-25

tion and its mounting geometry.

0.001 Ohm, ESL = 1 nH.

For this example, we assume

The SRF of this part is

+-25% inductance variation.

Table 1 Parameters used for Figure 4

0.5 MHz.

00

Xcell Journal

Summer 2004

The surface plot of Figure 5 shows the

Conclusion

we have more capacitors on the board. If

variation of self-impedance magnitude

The impedance tolerance window at the

we have significantly different plane

over the plane at 0.5 MHz. The gray botanti-resonance peak of paralleled discrete

impedance and cumulative ESR of capactom area of the graph represents the top

bypass capacitors widens with higher Q

itors, the impedance gradient will be big,

view of the planes. The grid on the botcapacitors. To keep the impedance window

and we must use many capacitors to hold

tom area shows the locations where the

due to tolerances small, you need either

the impedance uniformly down over a

impedance was calculated: the granularity

many different SRF values tightly spaced

bigger area even at low frequencies.

was 0.2 inches. The logarithmic vertical

on the frequency axis, or the Qs of capaciscale shows the impedance magnitude

tors must be low.

between 1 and 10 milliohms.

Contrary to popular belief, the servSelf-Impedance Magnitude [Ohm]

We calculated the surface impedice range of low-ESR capacitors is

ance with a spreadsheet [8]. The

severely limited when connected to

macro in the spreadsheet calculates

planes of much higher impedance. But

the impedance matrix by evaluating 1.E-02

you can achieve the lowest spatial

the double series of cavity resoimpedance gradient if the cumulative

nances. It then combines the comESR of bypass capacitors is close to the

plex impedance of plane pair with

characteristic impedance of planes.

the complex impedance of the

bypass capacitor.

References

The impedance surface at 0.5

[1] Novak, I. Frequency-Domain PowerMHz has a sharp minimum in the

Distribution Measurements An Overview,

middle; here the capacitor forces its

Part I in HP-TF2, Measurement of Power

ESR value over the plane impedDistribution Networks and their Elements.

1.E-03

DesignCon East, June 23, 2003, Boston.

ance. However, as we move away

from the capacitor, the impedance

[2] Smith, L.D., R.E. Anderson, D.W.

rises very sharply. At 0.2 inches away,

Forehand, T.J. Pelc, and T. Roy. 1999. Power

the impedance is approximately

Distribution System Methodology and

Capacitor Selection for Modern CMOS

50% higher; 0.4 inches away, the

Technology. IEEE Transactions on Advanced

Figure

5

Self-impedance

at

0.5

MHz

on

a

2

x

2

impedance magnitude doubles. At

plane

pair

with

50

mils

dielectric

separation,

with

a

100

uF,

Packaging 22(3): 284-290.

the corners of the 2 x 2 plane pair,

0.001 Ohm, 1 nH capacitor located in the middle

the impedance magnitude is almost

[3] Novak, I., and J. R. Miller. FrequencyDependent Characterization of Bulk and

10 milliohms.

Self-Impedance

Magnitude

[Ohm]

Ceramic Bypass Capacitors in Proceedings of

When changing either the plane

EPEP, October 2003, Princeton, NJ.

impedance or the ESR of capacitor

so that their values are closer, the

[4] Brooks, Douglas. 2003. Signal Integrity

Issues and Printed Circuit Board Design.

variation of impedance over the

Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

plane shape gets smaller. Figure 6 1.E-02

shows the impedance surface of the

[5] Ritchey, Lee W. 2003. Right the First Time,

same plane shape and same capaciA Practical Handbook on High Speed PCB

tor in the middle, except we

and System Design, Volume 1. Glen Ellen:

Speeding Edge.

increased ESR from 1 to 7 milliohms and decreased the plane sep[6] Download Microsoft Excel spreadsheet

aration from 50 to 20 mils. Now

at http://home.att.net/~istvan.novak/tools/

the impedance surface at SRF varies

bypass49.xls

only about 10% over the plane area.

[7] Novak, I., L. Noujeim, V. St. Cyr, N.

For Figures 5 and 6, you can see

Biunno, A. Patel, G. Korony, and A. Ritter.

1.E-03

the same characteristic behavior if

2002. Distributed Matched Bypasssing for

you sweep the frequency over a wider

Board-Level Power Distribution Networks.

IEEE Transactions on Advanced Packaging

frequency range in the spreadsheet.

25(2):230-243.

The impedance surface of Figure 5

changes and fluctuates significantly,

[8] Download Microsoft Excel spreadsheet at

Figure 6 Self-impedance at 0.5 MHz on a 2 x 2

while the impedance surface of

http://home.att.net/~istvan.novak/tools/

plane pair with 20 mils dielectric separation, and a 100 uF,

0.007

Ohm,

1

nH

capacitor

located

in

the

middle

Caprange_rev10.xls

Figure 6 changes less with frequency.

Summer 2004

Xcell Journal

00

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