How to Adopt Signal Integrity Analysis in Your High-Speed Design Process

Damien Kirscher
|  Created: February 21, 2017  |  Updated: November 23, 2020


As our designs become more complicated, the risk of signal integrity issues increases. Adopting signal integrity simulation in your design process can mitigate risks and preserve resources. Read to learn more.

The way signals operate in reality is often very different from the theoretical applications taught in universities, and as a consequence, moving from theory to practical application can often lead to unpredictable results. A signal can be disturbed in a variety of ways, including losses, crosstalk effect, reflection, skin effect and many other perturbations. These signal disturbances can cause serious repercussions that often come with a price tag, but how can we avoid these issues in the first place?

What are the Risks?

There are several risks and consequences associated with distortions to a signal depending on the cause. For example, let’s take a look at a reflection issue. The signal is sent from the emitter to the receiver, but some energy overflow is observed at the pin of the receiver as shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1 - Energy overflow observed from the pin of a receiver

When observing this effect, we can see various distortions of the signal, like an overshoot that could burn the chip or an undershoot that could switch the device twice. In this situation, we should also make note of the ring back, which might also switch the device again. In both cases the risks are high, including:

  • Additional costs for prototypes and re-spins.

  • Non-functional systems when the product is on the market.

  • Repairs or replacements when returned by customers.

So what can you do to avoid signal integrity issues in your designs? What if there was a way to analyze signal integrity in early development without requiring a physical prototype?

Signal Integrity Analysis in Altium Designer®

Altium includes a signal integrity analysis tool that can help you to detect perturbations and distortions of the signals on your board. This is helpful when it comes to detecting problems with the signal early in the design process, allowing you to make better decisions when it comes time to make your layout. When the board is completed, with the routing and all copper areas, then the post-layout analysis can be utilized to see the real perturbations of the signals.

Mitigate Risks with Signal Integrity Analysis

As our designs continue to grow more complex over time, the dangers of signal disturbance within our designs increase. With the help of Signal Integrity simulation in Altium, it can be easy to successfully navigate the intricacies of your high-speed application.

Interested in learning more about implementing signal integrity simulation tools into your design flow? Download the free whitepaper Adopting Signal Integrity in Your High-Speed Design Process today.

About Author

About Author

Damien currently serves as a Field Application Engineer at Altium and is responsible for providing technical assistance to Corporate Strategic Account Managers, Sales Managers, Resellers, and Application Engineers. He is also in charge on establishing and managing technical relationships with clients, partners and industry leader. Damien graduated from Lycée Louis Armand de Mulhouse, majoring in Electrical Engineering, and has been focused in the EDA industry for 11 years.

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