Febiuaiy 1996
EMI Design Techniques for
Microcontrollers in
Automotive Applications
TechnicaI Maiketing Fngineei
InteI Automotive Opeiations
FMC ConsuIting Fngineei
KimmeI Oeike Associates, Ltd.
Order Number 272673-001
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FIectionics content of automobiIes and othei vehicIes
has giown iapidIy in iecent yeais. Fmbedded micio-
contioIIeis aie used in a wide iange of vehicIe appIica-
tions foi contioI, convenience, and comfoit. FxampIes
iange fiom sophisticated engine and biaking contioIs to
automated iadios and individuaI passengei tempeiatuie
As the eIectionics content of vehicIes have incieased, so
have the electromagnetic interference (FMI) piobIems.
These iange fiom annoyances (jamming an on-boaid
AM of FM iadio) to upset oi damage (bIowing out an
engine contioI moduIe due to powei tiansients.) The
piobIems aie expected to get woise as system cIock
speeds and Iogic edge iates inciease, due to incieased
FMI emissions and decieased FMI immunity.
This appIication note desciibes the automotive FMI en-
viionments, and then discusses how to identify and pie-
vent many common FMI piobIems at the design stage.
AIthough a iange of soIutions wiII be addiessed, em-
phasis is on piinted ciicuit boaid design methods.
This appIication note aIso desciibes some iecent InteI
sponsoied ieseaich effoits that investigate FMI to on-
boaid FM iadio ieceiveis. SeveiaI diffeient design ap-
pioaches weie tested, using both two Iayei and muIti-
Iayei ciicuit boaids. The test piogiam was based on an
ABS (anti-Iock biaking system) contioI moduIe that
uses the InteI 80C196KR miciocontioIIei. The iesuIts
and iecommended ‘‘Iow noise’’ design concepts, howev-
ei, appIy to any miciocontioIIei design used in vehicu-
Iai appIications.
VehicIe eIectionics aie affected by seveiaI factois, in-
cIuding harsh environments high reliability and ex-
treme cost sensitivity FoitunateIy, these piobIems can
be oveicome thiough good FMI design techniques.
The automotive enviionment contains seveiaI thieats,
incIuding powei tiansients, iadio fiequency inteifei-
ence (both to and fiom neaiby oi onboaid iadio tians-
mitteis and ieceiveis), eIectiostatic dischaige, and pow-
ei Iine eIectiic and magnetic fieIds. Since vehicIes can
go aImost anywheie, the woist case situations must be
VehicuIai eIectionics must be designed foi extiemeIy
high ieIiabiIity. Fven a singIe faiIuie ovei miIIions of
vehicIes may not be toIeiated. Fuitheimoie, any system
that affects vehicIe safety must be ‘‘faiI-safe.’’ Systems
must aIso be easy to instaII, test, and iepaii. And of
couise, aII of this must be done at the Iowest possibIe
Heie some comments on common FMI thieats that aie
faced by the designeis of vehicIe eIectionics. They aie
divided into two bioad cIasses-susceptibiIity (aIso ie-
feiied to as immunity) and emissions. In the fiist case,
the automotive eIectionics aie the victim of FMI, and
in the second case, the automotive eIectionics aie the
source of FMI.
Automotive EMI Susceptibility
Since the automotive enviionment is so seveie, many
automotive eIectionics designeis aie aIieady weII veised
in deaIing with the foIIowing FMI piobIems. Neveithe-
Iess, we’II ieview them heie, since undeistanding the
piobIems is the fiist step towaid soIving them.
Power Transients-VehicIe eIectiicaI systems aie a iich
souice of powei tiansients. Seven of the most seveie
have been chaiacteiized and have become a suite of
standaid FMI test puIses, as desciibed in SAF J1113,
‘‘Electromagnetic Susceptibility Procedures for Vehicle
Components’’. These tiansients incIude puIses that sim-
uIate both noimaI and abnoimaI conditions, incIuding
inductive Ioad switching, ignition inteiiuption oi tuin-
off, voItage sag duiing engine staiting, and the aIteina-
toi ‘‘Ioad dump’’ tiansient. The Iast is paiticuIaiIy
haish, and can destioy unpiotected eIectionic devices.
Foi moie infoimation on these tiansients, see SAF
AII of these tiansients can damage oi upset eIectionic
systems. DigitaI ciicuits aie paiticuIaiIy susceptibIe to
tiansients, which can iesuIt in faIse tiiggeiing oi
‘‘fIipped bits’’ in memoiy. As eIectionic devices become
fastei and smaIIei, they become even moie vuIneiabIe
to these tiansient spikes.
Radio Frequency Immunity-Since vehicIes aie often a
pIatfoim foi Iand mobiIe iadio tiansmitteis, the on-
boaid eIectionics systems may be exposed to veiy high
iadio fiequency (RF) eIectiomagnetic fieId IeveIs. The
vehicIes can aIso be exposed to high IeveIs fiom extei-
naI thieats, Iike high poweied iadio stations oi aiipoit
iadai systems.
The ‘‘eIectiic fieId’’ IeveIs fiom these thieats can easiIy
ieach 50–100 voIts/metei. In oidei to piotect against
these thieats, test IeveIs of up to 200 voIts/metei aie
specified foi automotive appIications. Since typicaI faiI-
uie IeveIs foi unpiotected eIectionic systems aie in the
1–10 voIt/metei iange, substantiaI RF piotection must
be piovided foi eIectionic systems opeiating in the au-
tomotive enviionment.
AIthough both digitaI and anaIog ciicuits aie vuIneia-
bIe to the RF thieat, Iow IeveI anaIog ciicuits, such as
sensois, aie the most vuIneiabIe. A common faiIuie
mode is ‘‘RF iectification’’, which occuis when an ana-
Iog ciicuit is diiven non-Iineai by a Iaige signaI induced
by Iaige RF fieIds. VoItage ieguIatois can aIso be af-
fected if the RF eneigy gets into the feedback Ioop of
the ieguIatoi. Due to theii highei opeiating maigins,
digitaI ciicuits aie not as vuIneiabIe to this thieat, but
even they can be affected at high RF IeveIs when using
two Iayei boaids.
It’s easy to piedict eIectiic fieId IeveIs if you know the
tiansmittei powei and distance, using the foIIowing foi-
E e 550APd
wheie F is the eIectiic fieId IeveI in VoIts/metei
P is the tiansmittei output powei in watts
A is the gain of the antenna (the pioduct of AP is
effective iadiated powei)
d is the distance fiom the antenna in meteis
This foimuIa assumes an isotiopic oi ‘‘unifoim point’’
souice, and assumes no inteivening shieIding between
the tiansmittei and the vuIneiabIe eIectionics. Nevei-
theIess, it’s quite accuiate, paiticuIaiIy at the citizens
band, Iand mobiIe, and teIevision fiequencies of
25 MHz and highei. Most iadio fiequency inteifeience
susceptibiIity piobIems occui at these highei fiequen-
cies, wheie the cabIes and even ciicuit tiaces can act as
efficient antennas.
Table 1 Electric Field Levels vs Distance and
Power (Free SpaceIsotropic Source)
1 10 100 100000
Watt Watts Watts Watts
1 meter 55 Vm 173 Vm 55 Vm 1730 Vm
10 meters 055 Vm 173 Vm 55 Vm 173 Vm
100 meters 55 mVm 017 Vm 055 Vm 173 Vm
1 kilometer 55 mVm17 mVm55 mVm 173 Vm
TabIe 1 gives some exampIes. Note distance is ciiticaI,
and even a Iow powei hand heId (waIkie-taIkie) iadio is
capabIe of high fieId IeveIs when it is cIose to the victim
eIectionics. A 1 watt hand heId iadio at 1 metei iesuIts
in about 5 voIts/metei, whiIe a 100 watt tiansmittei
(typicaI of many fixed mobiIe tiansmitteis) at 1 metei
iesuIts in ovei 50 voIts/metei. Both IeveIs aie much
highei than fiom a 100,000 watt iadio bioadcast station
Iocated 1000 meteis away. In vehicIes, the IocaI on-
boaid tiansmittei is usuaIIy the biggest RF thieat. Fven
Iow poweied ceIIuIai phones can cause inteifeience
piobIems, if theii antenna is cIose to victim eIectionics.
Electrostatic Discharge (ESD)-Since aImost eveiy ve-
hicIe has humans on boaid, and since humans aie a
ieady souice of FSD, this is anothei majoi FMI thieat
to vehicuIai eIectionics.
Most FSD iequiiements aie based on the ‘‘human body
modeI’’, which chaiacteiizes typicaI voItages, cuiients,
and iisetimes associated with a human FSD event. AI-
though FSD dischaiges aie usuaIIy specified in ‘‘pie-
dischaige’’ voItage IeveIs, it’s actuaIIy the cuiient puIse
that causes most of the piobIems. Like watei iunning
down a iivei bed aftei the dam bieaks, the FSD cuiient
can upset oi destioy any vuIneiabIe eIectionics in its
path. Fuitheimoie, the eIectiomagnetic fieId associated
with the FSD event can aIso iadiate into neaiby eIec-
tionics systems, causing even moie upsets. This is
known as the ‘‘indiiect effect’’ of FSD.
Figuie 1 shows the FSD cuiient puIse iesuIting fiom a
human FSD event. Note that this FSD cuiient has a
veiy iapid iisetime in the 1–2 nanosecond iange, with
peak cuiients of 10 amps oi moie. A 1 nanosecond
edge iate has an equivaIent ‘‘bandwidth’’ of ovei
300 MHz, so FSD is veiy much a high fiequency issue
and iequiies high fiequency design soIutions.
Because of this high fiequency content, a ‘‘diiect hit’’ is
not necessaiy. The intense eIectiomagnetic fieIds can
easiIy upset a neaiby system fiom an ‘‘indiiect hit’’ of
FSD. This effect has been obseived up to 20 feet (6
meteis) away, and is a ieason that ‘‘indiiect’’ testing is
now incIuded in iecent inteinationaI FSD test specifica-
As mentioned above, the test specifications aie usuaIIy
given in the ‘‘pie-dischaige’’ voItage IeveIs. Most auto-
motive eIectionics aie designed to withstand at Ieast
15 KV, a seveie IeveI that actuaIIy exceeds most human
FSD IeveIs.
Power Line Fields-Since vehicIes can go aImost any-
wheie, and since powei Iines (and tiansfoimeis) can be
aImost anywheie, this thieat must aIso be addiessed in
vehicuIai designs.
NoimaIIy, this is not a piobIem foi miciocontioIIei
based systems, since at 50 oi 60 Hz, eIectiomagnetic
fieId coupIing is not veiy efficient. NeveitheIess, veiy
Iow anaIog IeveI ciicuits can be affected by ‘‘stiay’’
magnetic and eIectiic fieIds. Thus, powei Iine fieId ie-
quiiements aie usuaIIy imposed on vehicuIai systems to
make suie no upsets occui due to this thieat.
Figure 1 Typical Waveshape of ESD from Human Body
Automotive EMI Emissions
AImost aII automobiIes today have sensitive AM/FM
iadio ieceiveis (oi peihaps even a Iand mobiIe VHF
iadio), so emissions from digital circuits are one of the
biggest EMI problems facing today’s designer of vehicu-
lar electronics Most of the time the piobIem is annoy-
ing, but in the case of emeigency vehicIes (poIice, fiie,
ambuIance), jamming a iadio ieceivei couId be Iife
thieatening. As a iesuIt, most vehicIe manufactuieis
now iequiie suppiessing the offending emissions to ex-
tiemeIy Iow IeveIs.
Why Commercial EMI Limits Don’t Work-This piob-
Iem is simiIai to the iadiated emissions fiom peisonaI
computeis, which iesuIts in the weII known FCC (Unit-
ed States) oi CISPR (Fuiopean) FMI Iimits foi com-
puteis. These commeiciaI Iimits aie aimed at piotecting
neaiby teIevision ieceiveis (3–10 meteis away) fiom
inteifeience. The miIitaiy has simiIai Iimits with Iowei
IeveIs, designed to piotect theii iadio communications
and navigation systems fiom FMI.
Radiated emissions in the vehicuIai enviionment is
much moie seveie than in the commeiciaI oi miIitaiy
enviionments. Fiist, automotive iadio ieceiveis aie
much moie sensitive than teIevision ieceiveis, and sec-
ond, the offending ciicuits aie much cIosei to the iadio
ieceiveis (commeiciaI oi miIitaiy), typicaIIy within
1 metei of the antenna.
Comparison of Radiated Emission Specifications Commercial (FCC) Military and Automotive
Figure 2
SeveiaI vehicIe manufactuieis have iesponded with
theii own iadiated emission Iimits that aie weII beIow
the commeiciaI oi miIitaiy Iimits. Figuie 2 compaies
the commeiciaI FCC Iimits with both miIitaiy (MIL-
STD-461) with the OeneiaI Motois vehicIe ‘‘moduIe’’
Iimits (OM9100) foi iadiated emissions. (AII thiee sets
of Iimits have been noimaIized to a 1 metei measuie-
ment distance.) In the FM bioadcast iange
(88–108 MHz), the vehicIe Iimits aie about 6 mV/m
(15 dB mV/m), which is about 300 times (50 dB) moie
stiingent than coiiesponding commeiciaI emission Iim-
its, and about 6 to 20 times (15–25 dB) moie stiingent
than coiiesponding miIitaiy Iimits.
Most vehicIe piobIems occui in the FM bioadcast band
(88-108 MHz) iathei than the AM bioadcast band
(550 kHz–1600 kHz). At FM fiequencies, the cabIes
act as efficient antennas due to the shoitei waveIengths
(3 meteis foi 100 MHz vs 300 meteis foi 1 MHz), so
iadiated emissions aie much moie efficient at these
highei fiequencies. On boaid VHF Iand mobiIe ieceiv-
eis opeiating in the 140–170 MHz (amateui, poIice,
fiie, ambuIances) can aIso be simiIaiIy affected. On
boaid UHF Iand mobiIe ieceiveis in the 450 MHz
iange aie not usuaIIy affected by today’s miciocontioI-
Ieis, but they wiII be as the cIock speeds and edge iates
continue to inciease.
Microcontrollers as Unintended Transmitters-The pii-
maiy souices of emissions fiom miciocontioIIei based
systems aie the cIocks and othei highIy iepetitive sig-
naIs. The haimonics of these signaIs iesuIt in disciete
naiiowband signaIs that can often be ieceived weII into
the VHF and UHF iadio ianges. AIthough digitaI sys-
tems aie often cIassified as ‘‘unintentionaI iadiatois’’,
these haimonics aie easiIy iadiated by cabIes, wiiing,
and piinted ciicuit boaid tiaces.
Fouiiei anaIysis is a usefuI tooI to undeistand these
haimonic emissions. The Fouiiei seiies shows that any
non-sinusoidaI peiiodic wavefoim is composed of a fun-
damentaI fiequency pIus haimonic fiequencies. Foitu-
nateIy, as the fiequency incieases, the ampIitudes of the
haimonics deciease. UnfoitunateIy, squaie waves used
in digitaI systems deciease at the sIowest iate (20 dB/
decade), and theiefoie aie iich souices of high fiequen-
cy haimonics. In a sense, a digitaI system is Iike a seiies
of smaII iadio tiansmitteis that bioadcast simuIta-
neousIy on a wide iange of fiequencies.
Fourier Predictions
Digital circuits are rich in harmonics and act like multiple transmitters
Figure 3
Figuie 3 shows the ieIationship between the time and
fiequency domains foi a iepetitive digitaI signaI such as
a cIock. AIthough in the time domain it is customaiy to
expiess data in a Iineai fashion, in the fiequency do-
main it is customaiy to expiess data in a Iogaiithmic
fashion. This ‘‘Bode-pIot’’ appioach piovides additionaI
insights, as sIopes and bieak points become ieadiIy ap-
A wideIy used FMI fiequency is the tiansition fiom
20 dB/decade to
40 dB/decade, which occuis at
). This is often iefeiied to as the ‘‘Iogic band-
width’’, because this is the bandwidth necessaiy to pass
the signaI without degiading the edge iate. Foi exam-
pIe, the ‘‘Iogic bandwidth’’ of a 10 nanosecond edge
iate is 32 MHz, whiIe the ‘‘Iogic bandwidth’’ of a 1 nsec
edge iate is 320 MHz. Since many systems today have
edge iates in the 1–3 nsec iange, these systems aie
‘‘hot’’ with VHF and UHF eneigy. Note that this
‘‘bandwidth’’ is onIy effected by the ‘‘edge iate’’ and
not the cIock iate. Decieasing the edge iates wiII de-
ciease this bandwidth, and thus deciease the high fie-
quency content of the digitaI signaI.
Figuie 4 shows the effect of incieasing a cIock iate, but
keeping the edge iate constant. In this case, the specific
ampIitude at a given fiequency incieases with the cIock
iate. Note that BOTH edge rates and clock rates contrib-
ute to the radiated emissions that interfere with radio
receivers. Fuitheimoie, the haimonics-not the funda-
mentaI cIock fiequency-cause the piobIems.
Cables and PCB Traces as Unintended Antennas-Foi
emissions to be a piobIem, we need both a ‘‘tiansmit-
tei’’ and an ‘‘antenna.’’ We’ve aIieady seen that iepeti-
tive digitaI signaIs act Iike muItipIe hidden tiansmitteis.
Now we’II Iook at how cabIes and boaid tiaces act as
muItipIe ‘‘hidden antennas.’’
Figuie 5 shows the effect of coupIing the haimonics
desciibed above to a hidden antenna such as a cabIe.
AIthough the haimonic fiequency content decieases
with fiequency, the antenna efficiency incieases with
fiequency. The net iesuIt is a pietty good system foi
tiansmitting VHF and UHF eneigy, even if it is unin-
How Fast Risetimes Cause Radiated Interference
High speed sources plus long cables equals emissions
Figure 4
Clock Rate Affects Emissions Too
3x clock rate e 10 dB higher emissions
The faster the clock frequency the higher the emissions
Figure 5
Any conductoi wiII act as an efficient antenna when it’s
physicaI dimensions exceed a fiaction of a waveIength.
Since cabIes, by theii veiy natuie, aie among the Iong-
est conductois in a system, they aie usuaIIy the most
significant ‘‘antennas.’’ At highei fiequencies, howevei,
even the tiaces on the ciicuit boaids become Iong
enough to iadiate. The seciet to success foi iadiated
emissions is to pievent high fiequency eneigy fiom evei
ieaching the hidden antennas.
As a iuIe of thumb, any wiie ovei 1/20 waveIength is
consideied an antenna foi FMI puiposes. Most com-
munications antennas aie 1/4 waveIength oi Iongei,
but even ‘‘shoit’’ antennas aie significant iadiatois. Ta-
bIe 2 shows some typicaI fiequencies and Iengths,
which aie ieIated by the foimuIa l
300/f, wheie l is
the waveIength in meteis, and f is the fiequency in
Megaheitz. AIso shows aie ‘‘equivaIent iisetimes’’
based on the ‘‘Iogic bandwidth’’ fiequencies of digitaI
signaIs, using the foimuIa t
1000f/q, wheie t
the iisetime in nanoseconds and f is the fiequency in
Table 2 Frequency Wavelength Rise Time
300 kHz 1 msec 1000 meters 150 meters
1 MHz 300 nsec 300 meters 15 meters
3 MHz 100 nsec 100 meters 5 meters
10 MHz 30 nsec 30 meters 15 meters
30 MHz 10 nsec 10 meters 50 cm
100 MHz 3 nsec 3 meters 15 cm
300 MHz 1 nsec 1 meter 5 cm
Based on the 1/20 waveIength ciiteiia, a cabIe that is
1.5 meteis Iong is a good antenna foi any fiequency
above about 10 MHz. Fven a 15 centimetei metei cabIe
is an effective iadiatoi at 100 MHz, which is iight in
the middIe of the FM bioadcast band. At 300 MHz, the
ciiticaI Iength diops to about 5 centimeteis, so that
even the boaid tiaces themseIves become significant ia-
diatois at fiequencies above 300 MHz.
Both the boaid tiaces and the cabIes connected to the
ciicuit boaid can iadiate, as shown in Figuie 6. The
cabIe contiibution is noimaIIy much moie seveie, due
to the Iaige physicaI size of the cabIe. One can use an-
tenna theoiy to piedict the eIectiic fieId IeveIs iadiated
by these unintended antennas. Foi boaid iadiation, as-
sume a smaII Ioop antenna, and foi cabIe iadiation, as-
sume a Iaigei dipoIe antenna. The foimuIas aie as foI-
E e 265 x 10
r (Differential mode currents
on the board)
E e 4 x 10
IfLr (Common mode currents on the
Wheie F is the eIectiic fieId intensity in VoIts/metei, I
is the cuiient is amps, A is the ‘‘Ioop aiea’’ on the
ciicuit boaid, L is the cabIe Iength, and i is the distance
fiom the antenna.
Foi exampIe, 1 miIIiamp of differential mode cuiient at
100 MHz in a 1 squaie centimetei Ioop on the ciicuit
boaid iesuIts in an eIectiic fieId intensity of about
26 mV/m at a distance of 1 metei. Foi the same eIectiic
fieId intensity, onIy 200 picoamps of common mode
cuiient at 100 MHz wouId be needed on a 1 metei Iong
cabIe foi the same fieId intensity.
Foi this exampIe, both of these IeveIs aie stiII weII
above typicaI automotive Iimits of 6 mV/m. Fiist, it’s
obvious that if even a fiaction of a peicent of the PCB
cuiients end up on the cabIes as common mode cui-
ients, we’ve got a seiious emissions piobIem. Second,
it’s obvious that aII high fiequency cuiients (common
mode and diffeientiaI mode) must be contioIIed at the
ciicuit boaid. Theie shouId be no doubt that the ‘‘hid-
den antennas’’ can cause seiious FMI piobIems.
Physical Dimensions(Antenna Effects)
Loop Radiation (Differential Mode)On the board
Signal Loops
Power Loops
Cable Radiation (Common Mode)Off the board
Figure 6
With aII these potentiaI FMI piobIems, it’s appaient
FMI piotection must be designed in fiom the begin-
ning. UnfoitunateIy, theie is no ‘‘magic soIution’’ foi
FMI. Rathei, it must be addiessed thioughout the de-
Different Approaches for Different
Fach of the FMI thieats discussed eaiIiei have pie-
feiied stiategies. In many cases, one stiategy may ad-
diess seveiaI thieats at the same time. In aII cases, muI-
tipIe IeveIs of piotection aie needed.
Power Transients-The design stiategies foi this thieat
aie to piovide piimaiy tiansient piotection on aII mod-
uIe input powei Iines, pIus secondaiy piotection such as
fiIteiing at the ciicuit IeveI. The ‘‘Ioad dump’’ tiansient
is usuaIIy the biggest concein. Designing ‘‘noise toIei-
ant’’ softwaie is aIso veiy effective in contioIIing sus-
ceptibiIity to powei Iine tiansients.
Radio Frequency Immunity-The design stiategies foi
this thieat aie to keep the unwanted eneigy fiom ieach-
ing vuIneiabIe ciicuits. This iequiies high fiequency fiI-
teiing on cabIes (both powei and I/O) which act as
antennas, pIus caiefuI ciicuit Iayout and ciicuit decou-
pIing. CabIe and moduIe shieIding aie aIso effective, but
aie not popuIai in vehicuIai designs due to the costs.
Electrostatic Discharge-The design stiategies foi FSD
aie to Iimit damage by tiansient suppiession oi high
fiequency fiIteiing on I/O and powei Iines, and to Iimit
upsets by IocaI fiIteiing and decoupIing, caiefuI ciicuit
Iayouts, and peihaps even shieIding. Many of the design
techniques foi RF emissions and immunity woik equaI-
Iy weII foi the ‘‘indiiect’’ FSD effects due to the tian-
sient eIectiomagnetic fieIds.
Power Line Fields-The design stiategies aie usuaIIy
instiumentation oiiented, and incIude IocaI shieIding
and fiIteiing of the most ciiticaI ciicuits. The design
techniques necessaiy foi RF emissions and immunity
aIso minimize this thieat. This is noimaIIy not a seiious
Radiated Emissions-The design stiategies foi this
piobIem aie to suppress the emissions at the souice by
caiefuI ciicuit Iayout, fiIteiing, and giounding, oi to
contain the emissions by shieIding. Foi automotive de-
signs, the emphasis is usuaIIy on suppiession and caie-
fuI ciicuit Iayout, since shieIding is costIy and difficuIt
foi most high voIume automotive pioducts. Neveithe-
Iess, shieIding is seeing incieasing use in vehicuIai ap-
EMI at the IC Level
As an integiated ciicuits vendoi, we aie often asked to
make oui ciicuits ‘‘moie quiet’’ oi ‘‘moie iugged’’ in
hopes of soIving the FMI piobIems. Aftei aII, eveiyone
aIways says to ‘‘suppiess it at the souice’’ oi ‘‘haiden at
the victim.’’ So why not just incoipoiate aII the FMI
fixes at the IC IeveI, and be done with it!
If onIy Iife weie so simpIe. WhiIe many equipment de-
signeis wouId Iike to push aII the FMI iesponsibiIity
back to the chip vendois, this appioach is not veiy
piacticaI, due to constiaints of chip speed, cost, pei-
foimance, and wide tempeiatuie iange. Lowei FMI
usuaIIy means sIowei speeds, which in tuin means Iow-
ei peifoimance. Yet the tiend in automotive ICs is
towaid highei peifoimance devices with incieasing
cIock speeds and edge iates.
NeveitheIess, as chip manufactuieis we aie woiking
haid to heIp contioI FMI at the IC IeveI. Foi exampIe,
at InteI we’ve designed in the capabiIity to tuin off cei-
tain high speed contioI Iines when not needed. We’ve
iedesigned cIock diiveis, and we’ve incoipoiated high
fiequency powei and giounding schemes iight on the
siIicon. We aie woiking with a Society of Automotive
Fngineeis Task Foice to deveIop methods to measuie
and contioI FMI at the chip IeveI. Oui ieseaich into
these aieas continues. But whiIe these effoits heIp, we
can’t do it aII, and the ieaI battIe against FMI must stiII
be waged at the ciicuit and moduIe stage.
EMI at the PCB Level
This is wheie the most effective automotive FMI ie-
suIts can be achieved today. It’s aIso wheie the designei
has the most contioI. Many soIutions at this IeveI aie
inexpensive oi even fiee, paiticuIaiIy when deaIing with
boaid Iayout and iouting. Latei in this appIication
note, we’II piovide some specific PCB design guides,
but heie is some geneiaI FMI advice.
Fiist, pIan foi FMI, iight fiom the stait. Identify the
most ciiticaI ciicuits, and decide what to do about
them. Considei muIti-Iayei boaids, and aIIow foi pIenty
of fiIteiing and decoupIing in the initiaI designs. You
can aIways iemove components Iatei if you don’t need
Second, stay invoIved with the design. Most good FMI
designs aie the iesuIt of the design engineei and the
PCB Iayout speciaIist woiking cIoseIy as a team. As
cIock speeds and edge iates inciease, this becomes even
moie impoitant.
Thiid, test eaiIy and often. UnfoitunateIy, FMI is not
an exact science. Bettei to identity potentiaI piobIems
eaiIy in the design, when the aIteinates aie inexpensive
and pIentifuI. Late in the design cycIe, FMI soIutions
may be expensive and painfuI.
FMI is a necessaiy pait of any vehicuIai eIectionic de-
sign, and buiIding in FMI suppiession and haidness at
the PCB IeveI is veiy sensibIe engineeiing. Not onIy wiII
you end up with an ‘‘FMI-pioof’’ design, but you’II
IikeIy have a moie ieIiabIe design as weII.
EMI at the Cable and Interconnect
It is not usuaIIy cost effective to attack automotive FMI
at this IeveI. Cost and weight constiaints geneiaIIy pie-
cIude using shieIded cabIes oi expensive fiIteied con-
nectois. Fven exteinaI cIamp on feiiites commonIy
used with peisonaI computeis aie not piacticaI. You
can, howevei, piovide cost effective fiIteiing and tian-
sient piotection at the I/O inteiface on the ciicuit
Fibei optics may change this in the futuie. Fibei optics
can ieduce and even eIiminate many cabIe ieIated FMI
piobIems, but this appioach is stiII too expensive foi
most automotive appIications. Fven when fibei be-
comes piacticaI, howevei, the powei wiiing wiII stiII
need FMI piotection.
EMI at the Module Level
Like cabIe shieIding, moduIe shieIding is often consid-
eied too expensive foi automotive appIications. Nevei-
theIess, this appioach shouId not be oveiIooked. It may
be Iess expensive to shieId and fiItei a moduIe than to
add a Iot of components on the ciicuit boaid. This is
paiticuIaiIy tiue if the moduIe must be encIosed foi
enviionmentaI piotection.
Theie aie two simpIe seciets to success with FMI mod-
uIe shieIding. Fiist, seaI aII seams, and second, fiItei aII
penetiations. Foi most FMI piobIems, the mateiiaI is
not ciiticaI, and even thin conductive coatings piovide
veiy high IeveIs of piotection. Foi exampIe, nickeI paint
on pIastic typicaIIy piovides 60 dB (a factoi of 1000 ) oi
moie of piotection, and vacuum pIating oi eIectioIess
deposition on pIastic typicaIIy piovides 80 dB (factoi of
10,000) of piotection. A steeI oi aIuminum box can
piovide weII ovei 120 dB (factoi of 1,000,0000) of high
fiequency shieIding. These IeveIs aie easiIy attainabIe if
the Ieaks (seams and penetiations) aie seaIed.
Oood shieIding need not be expensive. Considei the teI-
evision-tunei, with its inteiIocking metaI box and fiI-
teied input and output Iines. This appioach has been
successfuIIy used foi aImost fifty yeais, to piovide cost
effective FMI contioI in a highIy cost sensitive indus-
tiy. Theie is an incieasing tiend towaid simiIai shieId-
ed moduIes in vehicIes.
EMI at the Software Level
AIthough noimaIIy not effective against emissions (aI-
though theie have been cases wheie it did make a dif-
feience), softwaie can be veiy effective foi FMI suscep-
tibiIity. Like fauIt toIeiance, you shouId buiId ‘‘noise
toIeiance’’ into youi softwaie.
Theie aie two simpIe objectives-catch the eiiois be-
foie they upset the system, and then giacefuIIy iecovei.
It doesn’t take much to piovide this piotection, and
often times, just a few Iines of code can woik wondeis.
To detect memoiy eiiois, add ‘‘checksums’’ to bIocks
of data in memoiy to teII when a memoiy state has
changed. To detect piogiam eiiois, add ‘‘tokens’’ to
moduIes of code. Save the token on enteiing a moduIe,
and then check it on Ieaving the moduIe. If they aie not
the same, an eiioi has occuiied, since the moduIe was
enteied iIIegaIIy. To detect I/O eiiois, do type and
iange checking on the data.
A ‘‘watchdog’’ can pievent becoming Iost in an endIess
softwaie Ioop. This is often a sepaiate device, aIthough
many miciocontioIIeis incoipoiate an inteinaI watch-
dog. If the watchdog is not ieinitiated in a piedetei-
mined time, it iesets the entiie system, biinging it back
to a known state.
Many of these techniques aie aIieady used in vehicuIai
appIications with veiy good iesuIts. Often times they
aie incoipoiated foi safety ieasons, but they aie aIso
effective tooIs in the battIe against FMI. Foi moie de-
taiIs on softwaie techniques, see the BibIiogiaphy.
Having examined piobIems and stiategies, Iet’s Iook at
some specific soIutions. We’II focus on ciicuit boaid
issues, as this is wheie equipment designeis have the
most contioI. We’II shaie some detaiIs on how to attack
potentiaI FMI piobIems iight at the ioot of aImost aII
FMI piobIems-at the ciicuits and theii inteiconnect-
ing tiaces.
Guideline 1Identify Critical Circuits
The fiist step is to identify the most ciiticaI ciicuits on
the ciicuit boaid. Fxpeiience shows that most FMI
piobIems can be tiaced to a few key ciicuits. The good
news is by identifying these ciicuits eaiIy, many FMI
piobIems can be pievented with veiy IittIe effoit.
Emissions-The most ciiticaI ciicuits foi EMI emis-
sions aie the highIy iepetitive ciicuits, such as cIocks,
addiess enabIes, and high speed data busses. Fven sig-
naIs with Iow iepetition iates, such as addiess bit 0, can
cause piobIems with sensitive automotive iadio ieceiv-
eis. Considei adding a feiiite bead oi smaII iesistoi
(10–33 ohms) in seiies with any cIock oi othei high
speed output, iight at the diiving pin. This wiII heIp
damp any iinging, and aIso heIps piovide an impedance
Both the signaI tiaces, and the powei tiaces aie poten-
tiaI souices. In the Iattei case, iemembei a chip that is
switching is consuming cuiient in puIses, which can
iadiate just as weII as signaI cuiient puIses. This means
that any switched device is a potentiaI souice of emis-
sions - not just the miciocontioIIei. Figuie 7 shows typ-
icaI emission paths fiom ciiticaI ciicuits.
Since cIock Iines aie ciiticaI, position the chips to mini-
mize any cIock iuns. As pieviousIy mentioned, keep the
cIock tiaces and ciystaIs away foim any connectois.
Route the high speed Iines fiist, and keep those Iines
shoit and diiect. Considei hand iouting the ciiticaI
Iines, but if you use an autoioutei, be suie to check to
see wheie the Iines have been iouted.
Susceptibility-The most ciiticaI ciicuits foi EMI sus-
ceptibility aie the ieset, inteiiupt, and contioI Iines. The
entiie system can be biought to a haIt if one of these
Iines aie coiiupted by FMI. Fven though these ciicuits
may have sIow (oi even nonexistent) iepetition iates,
they aie stiII vuIneiabIe to tiansients and spikes which
can iesuIt in faIse tiiggeiing. Use high fiequency fiItei-
ing, such as smaII capacitois (0.001 mf typicaI) and fei-
iite beads (oi 100 ohm iesistois) to piotect these Iines.
These components shouId be instaIIed iight at the input
pins to the miciocontioIIei.
Radiation and Coupling from Critical Circuits
Figure 7
Be especiaIIy caiefuI with the ieset ciicuitiy, paiticuIai-
Iy when using exteinaI devices foi watchdogs oi detect-
ing powei Ioss. Any faIse tiiggeiing of these exteinaI
ciicuits can cause a faIse ieset, so these exteinaI ciicuits
must be piotected against FMI as weII. Once again,
smaII capacitois and feiiite beads oi iesistois aie veiy
effective as fiIteis against spikes and tiansients.
Guideline 2Plan your board layout
Aftei identifying the most ciiticaI ciicuits, the next
concein is wheie to pIace the ciicuits on the boaid.
AIthough this sounds tiiviaI, FMI success hinges on
how weII this stage is impIemented. Diffeient ciicuits
inteiact in subtIe and unexpected ways, so you must
pIan youi Iayout.
Oioup the ciicuits by speed of opeiation. WhiIe this
seems obvious, this simpIe piincipIe is often oveiIooked
with devastating FMI iesuIts. Figuie 8 shows an exam-
pIe of a weII paititioned boaid. Note that in this exam-
pIe, the high speed digitaI ciicuits aie sepaiated fiom
the Iowei speed digitaI and anaIog ciicuits. Fuithei-
moie, the high speed ciicuits aie physicaIIy sepaiated
fiom the I/O connectois to minimize paiasitic high fie-
quency coupIing.
Use speciaI caie with the input-output ciicuits, since
they connect to the outside woiId. Fven though most
automotive I/O ciicuits opeiate at ieIativeIy Iow fie-
quencies, the cabIes stiII act as antennas foi high fie-
quency eneigy. A key concein heie is Iocation. A com-
mon piobIem is pIacing a cIock oi ciystaI next to an
I/O poit, which iesuIts in paiasitic coupIing to the I/O
wiiing. A simiIai piobIem is iouting ieset oi inteiiupt
Iines next to I/O Iines, which aIIow them to pick up
tiansients fiom the outside woiId. Keep these compo-
nents and tiaces at Ieast 25 mm (1 inch) away fiom any
input/output oi powei connectois and wiiing.
Figure 8 Board Partitioning
Guideline 3Select an appropriate
board type
The type of boaid has majoi impact on FMI issue, both
emissions and susceptibiIity. Foi yeais, automotive de-
signeis have used two Iayei boaids due to cost con-
stiaints. That tiend is changing, and many new highei
speed designs now use muIti-Iayei boaids. Theie is no
doubt that muIti-Iayei boaids minimize and often eIimi-
nate FMI piobIems. Yet many simpIei designs can be
stiII impIemented with two Iayei boaids, if piopei de-
sign techniques aie used.
Multi-Layer Boards Preferred-MuIti-Iayei boaids of-
fei seveiaI FMI benefits. Fiist, the powei and signaI
‘‘Ioop aieas’’ aie minimized, both ieducing emissions
and incieasing immunity at the boaid. Second, the
powei and giound impedance IeveIs aie Ioweied (often
by seveiaI oideis of magnitude) which ieduces powei
and giound peituibations. Thiid, the piesence of powei
and giound pIanes gieatIy minimize ciosstaIk between
tiaces. As a iesuIt, muIti-Iayei boaids typicaIIy offei
ten-foId to hundied-foId FMI impiovements ovei two
Iayei boaids.
The muIti-Iayei miiacIe occuis because of the ‘‘image-
pIane’’ effect. PIace a cuiient caiiying wiie cIose to a
metaI suiface, and most of the high fiequency cuiient
ietuins diiectIy undei the wiie. (At high fiequencies,
this path has the minimaI Ioop aiea, and thus minimaI
inductance.) A tiansmission Iine is foimed by the wiie’s
‘‘miiioi image’’ Iocated ovei the metaI suiface. With
equaI and opposite cuiients, these tiansmission Iines do
not iadiate weII, noi do they pick up exteinaI eneigy.
This is shown in Figuie 9.
Note that both the powei and giound pIanes act as
‘‘signaI giound’’ pIanes at high fiequencies. Since they
aie decoupIed thiough bypass capacitois and theii own
capacitance between the pIanes, they aie actuaIIy at the
same potentiaI at high fiequencies. Foi signaI puiposes,
both the powei and giound pIanes aie tieated in an
identicaI fashion.
The paths undei the tiaces (in both the powei and
giound pIanes) must be continuous and unbioken. If a
pIane is cut, oi if someone decides to ‘‘boiiow’’ some of
the pIane aiea foi tiace iouting, the ietuin cuiients aie
foiced to diveit aiound the cut oi bieak, cieating a
Ioop. Watch out foi this piobIem in connectoi cutout
aieas, as cuiients may be foiced to diveit aiound the
cutout. This is paiticuIaiIy tioubIesome, as this ‘‘hot
spot’’ can iesuIt in incieased coupIing to oi fiom the
attached wiiing.
Some Two Layer Techniques-Due to cost conceins,
two Iayei boaids aie stiII wideIy used in automotive
designs. In spite of theii FMI disadvantages, some two
Iayei boaids can be designed to appioach muIti-Iayei
FMI peifoimance. Foi exampIe, by iouting ciiticaI
Iines with dedicated ietuins, and by iouting aII powei
tiaces as powei/ietuin paiis, ‘‘Ioop aieas’’ can be mini-
mized, just as with a muIti-Iayei boaid. FiIIing in un-
used aieas with ‘‘gioundfiII’’ heIps Iowei the giound
Figure 9 Image Plane Effects
One technique is to use one Iayei as a dedicated giound
pIane. You don’t need muItipIe pIanes to benefit fiom
the ‘‘image-pIane’’ effect. In fact, on two Iayei boaids,
aIIocating one side as a dedicated giound pIane pioduc-
es benefits aImost as good as a muIti-Iayei boaid. This
woiks best on boaids with Iow iouting densities.
As an aIteinate to a dedicated pIane, giound giids can
be used on two Iayei boaids. One method accompIishes
this by iunning hoiizontaI giound tiaces on one side of
the boaid, and veiticaI giound tiaces on the othei side.
They aie connected togethei at the ciossovei points
with vias. In this way, both suifaces may be used foi
iouting, and yet a giound giid is piovided foi the high
fiequencies. AIthough not as good as a pIane, the giid
appioach is stiII much moie effective than iandom
tiace iouting.
Fven with caie, howevei, it’s difficuIt to achieve FMI
success with two-Iayei technoIogy on designs with
cIocks above about 15 MHz. As a iesuIt, we iecom-
mend muIti-Iayei boaids foi new, high speed miciocon-
tioIIei designs.
Design Guideline 4Isolate With
IsoIated, oi ‘‘spIit’’ pIanes have become veiy popuIai as
a method of maintaining high fiequency isoIation on a
ciicuit boaid. This technique has been used foi yeais on
boaids with mixed anaIog and digitaI ciicuits, and we
stiongIy iecommend it foi those appIications. In othei
appIications, InteI iecommends using extieme caie with
this method. It is a usefuI technique, but if you do a
pooi job of isoIating oi segmenting the pIanes, you may
end with moie piobIems that if you stayed with soIid
Two eiiois must be avoided. Fiist, make suie the coiie-
sponding pIanes aie aIigned, as shown in Figuie 10.
FaiIuie to do so wiII aIIow high fiequency eneigy to
coupIe at the oveiIapped aieas. Second, make suie the
signaI tiaces aie continuousIy iouted ovei the appiopii-
ate ietuin pIane. If the tiaces go ‘‘ovei and back’’, you
cieate Ioops that coupIe eneigy between the isoIated
Use caie at any signaI oi powei inteifaces between the
isoIated aieas. If high fiequencies must pass between
the two aieas, the powei and giound points shouId be
joined at a naiiow ‘‘biidge’’, and the signaI tiaces
shouId be iouted ovei this biidge. If high fiequencies
do not need to pass between these two aieas, then the
connecting tiaces can be isoIated with feiiites, induc-
tois, oi common mode chokes. These aie shown in Fig-
uie 11.
Plane isolation is defeated by overlapping unrelated power and ground planes
Layer capacitance couples all surfaces at high frequency
Figure 10 Align the Planes
Micro-Island-This teim was coined by the FMI con-
suIting fiim of KimmeI Oeike Associates to desciibe an
isoIation design technique that has pioven effective in
contioIIing FMI in embedded contioI systems. Piopei-
Iy impIemented, it piovides many of the benefits of a
muIti-Iayei boaid even when using two Iayei boaids.
The technique typicaIIy yieIds ten foId ieductions in
iadiated emissions ovei standaid two Iayei boaids. The
technique aIso woiks with muIti-Iayei designs, but they
aie geneiaIIy moie quiet in the fiist pIace.
Foi many automotive eIectionic systems, the embedded
miciocontioIIei is the onIy high speed souice of FMI
on the boaid. If one can confine that high fiequency
eneigy to a smaII aiea (Micio-IsIand) on the boaid,
FMI emissions can be minimized. This is accompIished
by pioviding a local ground plane under the high speed
circuitry (typicaIIy the miciocontioIIei and peihaps
RAM oi ROM memoiy devices), and then filtering ev-
ery trace (signaI, powei, and giound) enteiing oi Ieav-
ing the isoIated isIand. A smaII shieId couId be added to
compIeteIy encapsuIate the isIand foi even highei IeveIs
of suppiession, aIthough this is iaieIy needed.
Heie’s how to cieate youi own Micio-IsIand. See Fig-
uie 12 foi detaiIs.
- Fiist, define the boundaiies of the isIand to encom-
pass aII high speed ciicuitiy (miciocontioIIei, ciys-
taI, RAM, ROM, etc.) FiII this aiea with a giound
- Second, isoIate eveiy signaI enteiing oi Ieaving the
isIand with a T-fiItei (feiiite-capacitoi oi iesistoi-
capacitoi). The capacitois aie connected to the
giound pIane thiough a shoit Iead.
- Thiid, isoIate eveiy powei and giound tiace with a
seiies feiiite bead. DecoupIe the powei and giound
with a 0.01 mF capacitoi at the capacitoi eneigy
- Fouith, any signaI not staiting oi ending on Micio-
IsIand must be iouted aiound the isIand. Latei in
this appIication note, we’II shaie some test iesuIts of
this technique.
Note that this exampIe actuaIIy shows two isIands-
one foi anaIog and one foi digitaI. If you aie not using
Iow IeveI anaIog signaIs, one isIand is sufficient.
Figure 11 Routing Between Islands
1 Dedicated Digital PowerGround Planes
2 Dedicated Analog PowerGround Planes
3 Digital and Analog Power Decoupling
4 IO Decoupled with FerriteResistor and Cap
5 Grounded Crystal or Resonator
1 Ground Plane Under Micro-Controller
2 Separate Analog Ground Plane
3 Power Decoupled with Ferrite and Cap
4 IO Decoupled with FerriteResistor and Cap
5 Crystal or Resonator over Digital Ground Plane
Figure 12 Micro-Island
Guideline 5Decouple the power
Many high fiequency iadiated emissions aie caused by
pooi powei decoupIing. WhiIe eveiyone intuitiveIy un-
deistands that high speed signals cause FMI, some foi-
get about the powei peituibations. Whenevei a digitaI
ciicuit switches, it aIso consumes cuiient at the switch-
ing iate. These puIses of powei cuiient wiII iadiate just
as effectiveIy as puIses of signaI cuiient. In fact, they
often cause moie iadiation, since the powei cuiient Iev-
eIs aie usuaIIy much highei than those on an individuaI
signaI Iine.
High speed CMOS devices aie paiticuIaiIy vexing,
since they exhibit high peak cuiients due to the mo-
mentaiy ‘‘shoit’’ acioss the powei iaiIs when the
CMOS devices switch. In fact, CMOS peak cuiients aie
often highei than othei technoIogies, so emissions may
actuaIIy go up when a CMOS device (such as an
80C31) is used to iepIace an HMOS (8031) device, even
though the aveiage powei is much Iowei with CMOS.
It’s the peak cuiient, not aveiage powei, causing FMI
emissions. The soIution is to impiove the powei decou-
Circuit decoupling-We iecommend IocaI powei de-
coupIing of eveiy integiated ciicuit on the boaid. Foi
devices with muItipIe powei and giound pins, each paii
of pins shouId be decoupIed. High fiequency capacitois
in the 0.01–0.1 mf iange shouId be instaIIed as cIose as
possibIe to the device. Foi muIti-Iayei boaids, iun a
shoit tiace fiom the powei pin to the capacitoi, and
then diop the othei Iead into the giound pIane. Foi two
Iayei boaids, ‘‘fat’’ tiaces (with a Iength to width iatio
of 5:1 oi Iess) shouId be used on both the powei and
giound sides of the capacitoi to minimize inductance.
In both cases, keep the Ieads as shoit as possibIe.
AdditionaI piotection can be piovided by inseiting a
feiiite in seiies with the V
Iine to the miciocontioI-
Iei. This must be instaIIed on the V
side of the capac-
itoi, not on the IC side. This smaII LC fiItei fuithei
isoIates the V
tiaces fiom cuiient demands of the
switched device. We stiongIy iecommend this tech-
nique foi two Iayei and Micio-IsIand designs: it’s op-
tionaI foi muIti-Iayei designs.
Power entry decoupling-We iecommend high fiequen-
cy decoupIing at the powei entiy points. In addition to
the standaid 1–10 mf ‘‘buIk’’ capacitois, add a
0.01–0.1 mf high fiequency capacitoi in paiaIIeI at the
powei entiy point. Due to inteinaI iesonances, the buIk
capacitois aie useIess at fiequencies above about 1
MHz. The high fiequency capacitois aie theie to intei-
cept any high fiequency eneigy that tiies to sneak out
the powei inteiface. Foi moie piotection, seiies feiiites
can aIso be added.
Be suie to keep the Ieads shoit on the decoupIing ca-
pacitois. The seIf-inductance of wiies and tiaces is
about 8 nh/cm (20 nh/inch), so even a few miIIimeteis
of wiie Iength can defeat the decoupIing at high fie-
quencies due to the inductance. Figuie 13 gives seveiaI
exampIes of how Iead inductance defeats the decoupIing
capacitoi. Note that once you aie above the iesonant
fiequency, using a Iaigei capacitoi piovides no addi-
tionaI benefits, as the inductive ieactance pievaiIs.
One moie powei decoupIing hint. Add high fiequency
capacitois (0.001 mf typicaI) to the input and outputs of
aII on-boaid voItage ieguIatois. This wiII piotect these
devices against high IeveIs of RF eneigy (which can
upset the feedback) and wiII aIso heIp suppiess VHF
paiasitic osciIIations fiom these devices. Keep the ca-
pacitois cIose to the devices, with veiy shoit Ieads.
Guideline 6Bulletproof the
We’ve aIieady seen that cabIes and wiiing can act as
unintended antennas, and that even Iow IeveIs on ieIa-
tiveIy shoit Iengths can stiII cause FMI piobIems. Thus,
we stiongIy iecommend that you pIan foi fiIteiing at
youi powei and signaI connections to the moduIe. You
may find that you don’t need aII of the fiIteiing, but you
can aIways iemove components depending on FMI test
Power Interfaces-We aIieady discussed high fiequen-
cy piotection at the powei inputs. A few high fiequency
capacitois heie is veiy cheap insuiance, and they aie
often needed foi automotive designs to meet the ex-
tiemeIy Iow emission iequiiements. Foi immunity, ad-
ditionaI Iow fiequency fiIteiing may aIso be needed,
pIus tiansient piotection oi eneigy stoiage foi the auto-
motive powei tiansient iequiiements. TypicaIIy, meet-
ing the ‘‘Ioad dump’’ tiansient satisfies the othei tian-
sient iequiiements as weII.
Signal Interfaces-These need some piotection, too.
Don’t assume that just because an inteiface is ‘‘sIow’’
that high fiequency eneigy won’t tiy to entei oi Ieave
the system at that point.
Combination capacitance plus internal and external lead length
Larger capacitor moves resonant frequency down without providing any high frequency improvement
Figure 13 Capacitor Resonance
As a minimum, piovide the space and pads foi high
fiequency shunt capacitois and/oi tiansient piotection
on eveiy Iine. Bettei yet, piovide foi a seiies iesistoi as
weII. These can be ‘‘zeio-ohm’’ iesistois connected as
tiaces between two pads. Cut and iepIace with actuaI
iesistois if necessaiy.
Don’t oveiIook the giound Ieads in the signaI inteiface,
as these can piovide sneak paths foi common mode
cuiients into and out of the system. We iecommend
adding a smaII feiiite bead in the giound Iead, to com-
pIete the fiIteiing of the inteiface.
Heie aie some additionaI iecommendations on how to
giound shunt capacitois if fiIteis. To contain emissions,
connect the capacitoi to the signaI giound. The objec-
tive is to keep these cuiients on the boaid. To enhance
immunity, connect the capacitoi to a chassis giound (if
avaiIabIe), not signaI giound. The objective heie is to
keep the offending cuiients off the ciicuit boaid.
If theie is no chassis giound, then a compiomise is
necessaiy foi immunity. Connect the capacitoi to the
signaI giound, PLUS add a seiies eIement (feiiite oi
iesistoi) to Iimit the FMI cuiient shunted into the sig-
naI giound. This is mandatoiy foi FSD-if not used,
the FSD cuiient wiII IikeIy ‘‘bounce’’ the giound with
upset oi damage as the iesuIt.
Guidelines Summary
Figuie 14 summaiizes some FMI-quiet ciicuit boaid
soIutions. By using these simpIe techniques, many FMI
piobIems can be minimized oi eIiminated.
Some EMI-Quiet PCB Solutions
1 Parallel PowerGround Traces
2 Parallel SignalReturn Traces
3 Power Decoupling at Chip
4 Separation from IO
5 Separate IO Power
6 High Frequency Filter on IO
7 High Frequency Capacitor on Power
1 Multi-Layer Board
2 Power Decoupling at Chip
3 Separation from IO
4 Isolated IO PowerGround Plane
5 High Frequency Filter on IO
6 High Frequency Capacitor on Power
Figure 14 Summary
In 1994, the InteI Automotive Opeiations in ChandIei,
Aiizona, commissioned a ieseaich pioject to investigate
the effects of diffeient piinted ciicuit boaid techniques
on iadiated eIectiomagnetic inteifeience emissions. The
pioject invoIved Iaboiatoiy testing of seveiaI design
vaiiations of a ‘‘typicaI’’ automotive eIectionics moduIe
using the InteI 80C196KR miciocontioIIei. The em-
phasis was on piacticaI, Iow cost soIutions that couId be
used by InteI automotive customeis.
Test Methods and Procedures
The piimaiy objective was to test seveiaI diffeient cii-
cuit boaid configuiations foi RF emissions in the 30–
1000 MHz iange. The test pioceduies weie based on
the ‘‘moduIe IeveI’’ iadiated emissions tests of OM9100.
These pioceduies aie used by OeneiaI Motois to quaIi-
fy eIectionic moduIes suppIied by OM vendois, and aie
aimed at minimizing inteifeience to vehicuIai iadio ie-
ceiveis when the moduIes aie instaIIed in the vehicIe.
The test IeveIs aie veiy stiingent, with IeveIs of 15 dB
mV/m (6 mV/m) at 1 metei ovei most of the fiequency
iange of inteiest. These IeveIs aie 50 to 100 times
toughei to meet than those foi peisonaI computeis.
Six boaid configuiations weie tested. AII weie based on
an actuaI ABS moduIe design. The iepiesentative
boaids weie popuIated with an 8XC196JT miciocon-
tioIIei, ieguIatoi, Ioad dump diode, and hex buffeis.
The faiI-safe ASIC and othei ciicuitiy was simuIated
by pIacing appiopiiate capacitoi and iesistoi Ioads on
the test boaid. The component pIacement on the test
boaids was appioximateIy the same as a fuIIy popuIated
ABS moduIe. This was done since it imposed ieaIistic
PCB iouting constiaints on the test boaids, and piovid-
ed ieaIistic coupIing paths on the test boaids. ActuaI
pioduction connectois and cabIes weie aIso instaIIed
duiing the tests.
The six test configuiations weie as foIIows:
1. Standaid Two Layei Layout
2. Two Layeis with Micio-IsIand IsoIation-‘‘Pooi
3. Two Layeis with Micio-IsIand IsoIation-‘‘Bettei
4. Standaid Foui Layei Layout
5. Standaid Foui Layei Layout with Micio-IsIand Iso-
6. Customei SuppIied ABS ModuIe-PaitiaIIy Popu-
Note that a key Iayout technique studies was the ‘‘Mi-
cio-IsIand’’ technique discussed eaiIiei. WhiIe this is
not a new concept, this method is a piacticaI technique
to isoIate high fiequency souices to one poition of the
ciicuit boaid. The intended effect is to eIiminate high
fiequency escape paths to the iest of the boaid and the
inteiconnecting cabIes. This high fiequency isoIation
was achieved by pIacing the contioI (80C196JT) and
faiI-safe miciocontioIIeis on an isIand, and then fiItei-
ing aII tiaces biidging the isIand with feiiites and ca-
Micro Island Anomalies-Note aIso that two veisions
of the ‘‘Two-Layei Micio-IsIand’’ configuiation weie
tested. Due to Iayout iouting difficuIties, the PCB de-
signei compiomised the micio-isIand technique by
‘‘cutting up’’ the giound pIane to ioute needed tiaces.
The PCB designei beIieved, eiioneousIy, that taking a
few tiaces fiom the giound pIane aiea wouId have min-
imaI impact. As is often the case in ieaI designs, theie
was no easy way to ioute aII the tiaces without ‘‘boi-
iowing’’ fiom the giound pIane.
Rathei than give up on the Two Layei Micio IsIand
appioach, the cuts weie biidged with high fiequency
capacitois. The objective was to cieate a high fiequency
‘‘giid’’ to minimize the effects of the cuts foi the tiaces.
WhiIe simpIe wiie jumpeis couId have been used, ca-
pacitois weie chosen since this technique is often used
to ‘‘stitch’’ pIanes of diffeient voItages togethei at high
fiequencies. As it tuins out, these two configuiations
yieIded some veiy significant test iesuIts.
Test Results Conclusions
Figuies 15–19 show the emissions fiom the vaiious test
moduIe configuiations. The tests showed piimaiy
souices of emissions weie cIock haimonics, as expected.
At fiequencies beIow 150 MHz, the inteiconnecting ca-
bIe was the piimaiy antenna. At fiequencies above
150 MHz, both the cabIe and the boaid contiibuted to
the iadiation. This is aIso consistent with expectations,
given the waveIength and dimensions of the cabIes and
boaid tiaces.
Heie aie some concIusions based on the test iesuIts
fiom the diffeient boaid configuiations:
- The standaid two Iayei boaid had the pooiest pei-
foimance, and wouId IikeIy faiI OM9100.
- The foui Iayei micio-isIand boaid was the best, and
wouId IikeIy pass OM9100.
- The foui Iayei standaid boaid wouId aIso IikeIy
pass OM9100. Howevei, it had highei emissions
above 150 MHz than the foui Iayei micio isIand
- The two Iayei micio isIand boaid without the ca-
pacitois wouId IikeIy faiI OM9100, but wouId IikeIy
pass with the addition of the auxiIiaiy capacitois
and jumpeis.
The expeiiments showed some othei significant iesuIts,
as foIIows:
- The foui Iayei standaid boaid was 10-25 dB moie
quiet than the two Iayei standaid boaid.
- The piopeiIy executed two Iayei micio isIand boaid
appioached the iesuIts of the foui Iayei micio-is-
Iand boaid.
- The pooiIy executed two Iayei micio isIand boaid
was aImost no bettei than the standaid two Iayei
boaid. Cutting the pIane essentiaIIy destioyed the
micio-isIand piotection.
- A IocaI shieId positioned ovei the miciocontioIIei
yieIded 6 dB ieductions. This was beIieved to be due
to ieduced capacitive pickup of eneigy by the extei-
naI cabIe
AdditionaI neai fieId tests weie done on these test
boaids using stiip Iines, Ioop piobes, and the
FMSCAN boaid measuiement system. WhiIe moie
fiequency components weie noted in the neai fieId
tests, it was difficuIt to coiieIate these iesuIts with the
fai fieId data.
In concIusion, the muIti-Iayei boaid peifoimed much
bettei than the same Iayout on a two Iayei boaid. The
micio-isIand appioach is a viabIe soIution, but it must
be piopeiIy impIemented. FinaIIy, achieving the Iow
emission IeveIs necessaiy foi automotive appIications is
possibIe, but difficuIt, with IittIe ioom foi design eiiois.
Figure 15 Two Layer Standard
Figure 16 Four Layer Standard
Figure 17 Two Layer Micro-Island
(Cuts in Ground Plane)
Figure 18 Two Layer Micro-Island
(Capacitors to Repair Cuts)
Figure 19 Four Layer Micro-Island
Automotive FMI piobIems aie haish. The susceptibiIi-
ty IeveIs aie often high, and the iadiated emission IeveIs
aie extiemeIy Iow. The emission IeveIs aie paiticuIaiIy
giueIing, as they iequiie suppiession to IeveIs up to
1000 times beIow commeiciaI designs, and up to 100
times beIow those foi peisonaI computeis. Unfoitunate-
Iy, theie aie no simpIe soIutions to these piobIems.
We at InteI aie committed to heIping you soIve these
piobIems. We’II continue oui ieseaich and deveIop-
ment at the chip IeveI, doing what we can to contioI the
FMI piobIems at that IeveI. It shouId be appaient,
howevei, we can’t do it aII. FMI contioI must aIso be
addiessed at the ciicuit boaid and moduIe IeveIs. We’II
continue oui effoits at these IeveIs, too.
Foi additionaI heIp with these piobIems, we invite you
to contact youi InteI oi Distiibutoi AppIications Fngi-
neeis. Many have ieceived intioductoiy FMI tiaining,
and may be abIe to heIp you with basic questions. Foi
moie invoIved piobIems, they can iefei you to FMI
design expeits.
Acknowledgments-The main souices of the infoima-
tion foi this appIication note aie Iisted in the Refeience
section. DaiyI Oeike, PF., of KimmeI Oeike Associ-
ates Ltd., was iesponsibIe foi suppIying much of this
infoimation, and conducting the InteI sponsoied test
piogiam. His fiim speciaIizes in FMI design, tioubIe-
shooting, and tiaining couises. Figuies 1–14 aie fiom
the fiim’s FMI tiaining couises, and aie used heie
couitesy of KimmeI Oeike Associates Ltd. Mi. Oeike
can be ieached in St. PauI, Minnesota, at
1. Oeike, D.D. and KimmeI, W.D., EDN’s Designer’s
Guide to Electromagnetic Compatibility Cahneis
PubIishing, Newton, MA, 1994
2. WiIIiamson, T.W., Designing Microcontroller Sys-
tems For Electrically Noisy Environments InteI Ap-
pIication Note AP-125, 1982
3. Oeike, D.D. and KimmeI, W.D., ‘‘Focus on Auto-
motive FMI’’, Kimmel Gerke Bullets (FMI News-
Iettei) VoI. 2, No. 4, KimmeI Oeike Associates
Ltd., 1991
4. KimmeI, W.D. and Oeike, D.D., ‘‘Miciopioces-
sois and VHF Radios-MutuaI Antagonists, FMI
EXPO 1989 Symposium Record pp. C6.9-C6.22,
August 1989
5. Oeike, D.D., ‘‘Designing Miciocomputei Systems
to ToIeiate Noise’’, Society of Automotive Engineers
Transactions 870787 ApiiI 1987
6. Yaikoni, B. and Whaiton, J. ‘‘Designing ReIiabIe
Softwaie foi Automotive AppIications,’’ Society of
Automotive Engineers Transactions 790237 Febiu-
aiy 1979
7. SAF J1113, Electromagnetic Susceptibility Mea-
surement Procedures for Vehicle Components Soci-
ety of Automotive Fngineeis, August 1987
8. SAF J1752 (Diaft), Electromagnetic Compatibility
Measurement Procedures for Integrated Circuits
Society of Automotive Fngineeis, August 1994
9. OM9100P, Automotive Component EMC Specifica-
tion OeneiaI Motois
10. OuIIett, C. ‘‘The Hidden Schematic’’, Common
Ground (InteI Automotive NewsIettei) VoIume 1,
Numbei 5, InteI Coipoiation, Febiuaiy 1993.
Automotive EMI Test Techniques
For The Design Engineer
FMI testing can be compIex and expensive. Fuithei-
moie, it takes many yeais of expeiience to deveIop a
high IeveI of FMI test expeitise. As a iesuIt, most de-
signeis send theii pioducts to an FMI test Iaboiatoiy to
demonstiate compIiance to the appiopiiate FMI test
This testing is often done neai the end of a design pioj-
ect, so if piobIems occui, they can be painfuI and ex-
pensive to fix. FoitunateIy, theie aie a numbei of tests
that can be done duiing the design phase that can iden-
tify potentiaI piobIems when they aie stiII easy to fix.
The tests we’II discuss heie aie engineering tests, and
not compliance tests. As such, high degiees of quantita-
tive accuiacy aie not necessaiy. The objective of these
engineering tests is to impiove the piobabiIity foi suc-
cess of the eventuaI compliance tests. The goaIs aie to
uncovei piobIems eaiIy, and to demonstiate design im-
piovements. Heie aie some comments on FMI tests
that you shouId considei duiing the design phase.
Power Transients-SeveiaI test equipment manufactui-
eis offei test systems that geneiate the automotive tian-
sients desciibed in SAF J1113 (Electromagnetic Suscep-
tibility Procedures for Vehicle Components). Be suie the
test system incIudes the ‘‘Ioad dump’’, which is a veiy
seveie tiansient. Most design engineeis can iun this test
in theii engineeiing Iab with the appiopiiate equip-
Power Line Electric and Magnetic Field Immunity-
Since this is iaieIy a piobIem, it is piobabIy not woith
engineeiing tests. You can do these tests in an engineei-
ing Iab if you ieaIIy insist on it, using HeImhoItz coiIs
foi the magnetic fieIds, and paiaIIeI pIates foi the eIec-
tiic fieIds.
Electrostatic Discharge-SeveiaI test equipment manu-
factuieis offei FSD test systems. A good guideIine foi
this test is IFC 801.2 (Electromagnetic Compatibility
for Industrial Process Control Measurement and Control
EquipmentElectrostatic Discharge Requirements).
This wideIy used test method is based on the ‘‘human
modeI’’ foi FSD, and is easy to do in the engineeiing
Iab. Be suie and do both the ‘‘diiect’’ and the ‘‘indiiect’’
FSD tests as desciibed in the 1991 veision of IFC 801.2
Radio Frequency Immunity-FuII compiehensive RF
immunity tests can be difficuIt, since they often iequiie
antennas, ampIifieis, and shieIded iooms. SmaII mod-
uIes, howevei, can be tested in a ‘‘TFM’’ ceII, which is a
speciaI test fixtuie that is a piece of expanded tiansmis-
sion Iine. The ceII is compIeteIy shieIded, so you don’t
need an antenna oi shieIded ioom. You stiII need a
signaI geneiatoi and a powei ampIifiei to deveIop the
appiopiiate test IeveIs. A modified veision of the TFM
ceII, known as a OTFM! ceII has pioved popuIai foi
these appIications.
Foi fiequencies beIow 100 MHz, speciaI piobes may be
used to inject RF eneigy diiectIy on the cabIes. This
can be usefuI, since at fiequencies beIow 100 MHz, the
cabIes aie the most IikeIy antennas foi picking up the
RF eneigy.
Ciude RF immunity tests can be done by keying smaII
VHF/UHF hand heId iadios neai the equipment undei
test. At 1 metei, a 1 watt hand heId iadio geneiates an
eIectiic fieId of about 5 voIts/metei. At 1 foot, that
incieases to about 15 voIts/metei. At Iess than one foot,
the IeveIs aie not as meaningfuI, since the unit undei
test is the ‘‘neai fieId’’. Keep in mind these iadios onIy
tiansmit on seIect fiequencies. NeveitheIess, if a faiIuie
occuis, you know you have piobIems.
Radio Frequency Emissions-This can aIso be difficuIt
in an engineeiing Iab, since fuII tests often iequiie a
shieIded ioom, antennas, and sensitive spectium ana-
Iyzeis oi FMI ieceiveis. The automotive test thieshoIds
aie seveiaI oideis of magnitude beIow commeiciaI Iim-
its, so a shieIded ioom is aImost mandatoiy. In some
cases, a TFM ceII oi ‘‘stiip Iine antenna’’ can be used,
but the coiieIation with finaI IeveIs can be difficuIt.
These methods aie usefuI, howevei, foi making ieIative
measuiements, such as assessing design changes.
Two usefuI tioubIeshooting tooIs foi emissions aie cui-
ient piobes and ‘‘sniffei’’ piobes, which aie connected
to a spectium anaIyzei. The foimei aie singIe tuin cui-
ient tiansfoimeis that aie cIamped ovei a cabIe to mea-
suie the high fiequency cuiient on the cabIe. The Iattei
aie magnetic Ioop antennas that show the piesence of
high fiequency magnetic fieIds (and thus cuiients) in a
ciicuit oi cabIe. WhiIe usefuI, you can not coiieIate
these measuiements with actuaI emission measuie-
ments, since they onIy measuie the cuiient, and do no
account foi the antenna effects.
A ieIativeIy new system foi testing ciicuit boaids foi
emissions is the FMSCAN system. The boaid undei
test is scanned foi both fiequency and Iocation. The
iesuIts can be pIotted to show RF ‘‘hot spots’’, simiIai
to theimaI hot spots. Like the cuiient piobes and sniff-
ei piobes, howevei, the measuiements do not coiieIate
with finaI emission IeveIs, since antenna effects aie not
incIuded. NeveitheIess, many manufactuieis have
found this system usefuI in designing RF quiet boaids.
FinaIIy, ciude emission tests can be done by pIacing the
antenna of an FM oi VHF iadio ieceivei neai the unit
undei test. A typicaI test distance wouId be 1 metei
away, using a iepiesentative antenna such as a veiticaI
‘‘whip.’’ If you can heai emissions on the iadios, you
aie piobabIy above the Iimits.
Summary-Fngineeiing IeveI tests wiII nevei iepIace fi-
naI FMI compIiance tests, but they can stiII piove veiy
usefuI. Heie aie two finaI notes of advice. Foi immuni-
ty testing, you’II IikeIy need to add Iight emitting diodes
oi othei devices to indicate faiIuies, as exteinaI equip-
ment may mask the test iesuIts. Foi emissions testing,
pay attention to softwaie and be suie to exeicise aII
peiipheiaIs to assuie that maximum noise IeveIs aie
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