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# Module 2: Measurement Topic 7: Time Domain Reflectometry

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## Where Are We?

1. Introduction 2. Transmission Line Basics
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Transmission Line Theory Basic I/O Circuits Reflections Parasitic Discontinuities Modeling, Simulation, & Spice Measurement: Basic Equipment Measurement: Time Domain Reflectometry

TDR

3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Analysis Tools Metrics & Methodology Advanced Transmission Lines Multi-Gb/s Signaling Special Topics
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Contents TDR Introduction Analysis Method Sources of Error Time Domain Transmission Summary References
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## Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR)

A time domain reflectometer is just a fast step generator with an oscilloscope.
Oscilloscope
Vi
Sampler Circuit

DUT
Vr ZL

Pulse Generator

TDR

To use it:
Inject a fast (< 35 ps) edge onto the line from a 50W source. Observe the reflected waveform back at the scope. Use your knowledge of circuits and transmission lines to characterize the circuit under test.

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TDR #2
For example, the following waveforms show a TDR driving a 50W transmission line with unknown termination conditions.

## TDR How is each terminated?

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TDR #3
TDR can also be used to characterize reactive elements:

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## TDR Usage More on how to use TDR:

Identify regions of the TDR plot:
Flat regions are transmission lines Upward spikes or bumps are inductances Downward spikes or bumps are capacitances

## Starting at the source

Determine the values of Z0, td, L, or C for the nearest element. Simulate it to validate your finding and to determine the tr seen by the next element. (Iterate if needed.) Move to the next element.

TDR

You dont need to create a model that has more resolution than your fastest rise time.
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TDR Example
5 nH 5 nH 60W/0.5ns 5 nH 1 pF 45W/0.5ns 50W term

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## Sources of Error in TDR

Scope Total error = Errorscope + Errorcable + Errorprobe Probe Standard

[2.7.1]

Cable Equipment

Scope (bandwidth, sampling rate) Cable loss Probe discontinuities (including ground loops) Lack of standard

TDR

Other Sources
Coupon design: must replicate board upstream elements Measurement region (settling effects)

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## TDR Error Sources: Coupon Design

Coupon design must replicate board upstream elements. Ls & Cs low-pass the signal, increasing the rise-time. This affects the reflections from down-stream elements:
Slows the rising edge Spreads out response (convolution with slow edge) L & C responses dont go full swing

## This makes it TDR

hard to extract exact L and C values impossible to measure very small discontinuities

However, if the TDR cant see them, neither can the receiver.

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## TDR Error Sources: Measurement Region

TDR Response for 28W 6" coupon
65

100% Window

55

Z0 [W]

45

Settling Region

35

TDR

25 0.25

0.75

## 1.25 Time [ns]

50-70% Region
1.75

2.25

For the Direct Rambus DRAM (RDRAM) channel design, Intel redefined the measurement window to reduce impedance measurement errors:
Spec = 28W 10% Initial measurement errors 3W With improved methodology, errors were reduced to < 0.5W
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## Time Domain Transmission (TDT)

This is a TDR, which is operated in TDT mode:
Terminate the line at the load/far end. Launch at the source with a 50W probe. Probe at both source and load with low capacitance, high impedance probes.

## Used primarily to measure propagation velocity.

Velocity is more difficult to measure than impedance, and is more susceptible to measurement errors. Accuracy depends strongly on test structures, measurement procedures, and probe types. Difficulty: determining exactly where on the signal edge to make the measurement. Picosecond rise times are needed. Micro probing is highly recommended.

TDR

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TDT Examples

TDR

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Summary TDR offers a way to characterize the elements of your design for modeling purposes. Scope, cable, probe, test structures, etc. all add to measurement error. Use TDT to measure velocity.
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References
S. Hall, G. Hall, and J. McCall, High Speed Digital System Design, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (Wiley Interscience), 2000, 1st edition. W. Dally and J. Poulton, Digital Systems Engineering, Chapters 4.3 & 11, Cambridge University Press, 1998. H. Johnson and M. Graham, High Speed Digital Design: A Handbook of Black Magic, PTR Prentice Hall, 1993. R. Poon, Computer Circuits Electrical Design, Prentice Hall, 1st edition, 1995.

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References
TDR & TDT Hewlett Packard Corp., Time Domain Reflectometry Theory, Application Note 1304-2, May 1988. D. Smolyansky and S. Corey, PCB Interconnect Characterization from TDR Measurements, PCB Design, May 1999, pp. 18-25. Intel Corporation, PCB Test Methodology, August 1999, http://www.developer.intel.com. D.J. Dascher, Measuring Parasitic Capacitance and Inductance Using TDR, Hewlett Packard Journal, Article 11, August 1996. J. McCall, Successful PCB Testing Methodology, PCB Design, June 1999, pp. 10-16. Tektronix, Inc., AWG 610 Arbitrary Waveform Generator, Product Data Sheet 76W-12991-0, April 1999.

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References
TDR & TDT Hewlett Packard Corp., Crosstalk and Impedance Measurements of PCB Board Patterns, Application Note 339-3, September 1986. Hewlett Packard Corp., Characteristic Impedance Measurement of PCB Board Patterns, Application Note 339-2, June 1986. Hewlett Packard Corp., Electronic Characterization of IC Packages, Application Note 1255-5, June 1994.

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