What is Propagation Delay in PCB Design and the Best Tools to Work with It

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: May 20, 2020
What is Propagation Delay and the Best PCB Design Tools to Work with It

To resolve the question of what is propagation delay, you need the power of Altium Designer to handle this and other high-speed design issues.


Working through propagation delay and other high-speed design interactions efficiently.

When you design high-speed circuits you will be working with a number of parameters that will affect how you create the design. One of these parameters is propagation delay, and it can have a critical effect on how your circuits perform. Propagation delays can refer to the time that is required for a signal to travel from its source to its destination. It can also refer to a logic gate delay, such as a “slow” NAND gate with lagging output state changes given the input state. This can cause problems in your design if the clock and the output pulses end up being out of sync.

Fortunately, Altium Designer has been equipped with circuit simulation tools and signal integrity tools to check outputs and input signals, along with other functions. You can simulate your circuitry in the schematic and then evaluate its signal integrity output from the layout. By using the full power of Altium Designer you will be able to correctly design your high-speed circuits to avoid problems from signal propagation delays.

What is Propagation Delay?

Signal propagation delays, transmission delay, line delay are some of the terms that are used and they can have different meanings depending on what you are working with. To give you a better understanding of the subject, we’ve assembled a collection of materials below that talk about the causes and effects of propagation delays. You will see how PCB materials can affect it and how you can work with your designs to mitigate the problems that can arise from it.

Propagation Delays in High-Speed PCB Design

Learn more about propagation delay and how you can better work with it.

Screenshot of AD18 3D tuned routing in what is propagation delay

Altium Designer’s high-speed design tools will help with tuned routing like this

High-Speed Design Tools

Working with propagation delays and other high-speed design parameters requires advanced PCB design tools. Altium Designer is prepared for your high-speed design needs with these tools already built into the system. With the layer stack manager in the PCB layout tools, Altium Designer will calculate the impedance based on the board materials you are using and send that data on to the design rules.

There you can create custom trace routing widths for whatever impedance values you desire. Also in layout, you can use the xSignals tools to set up high-speed constraints for signal paths, measured lines, and routing topologies. You additionally have signal integrity tools ready to help you as well as circuit simulators within the schematic tools. With Altium Designer you are more than ready to handle any high-speed board design requirements that you are confronted with.

Altium Designer Has the Tools You Need for High-Speed Design

Altium Designer gives you the tools you need for resolving propagation delays and other high-speed design issues.

Screenshot of AD18 signal integrity tools in what is propagation delay

Altium Designer’s simulation and signal integrity tools will help your high-speed designs

Advanced Tools for Your Advanced Designs

To stay at the top you need to be able to quickly and accurately create the latest design technologies for your products. To do this you need PCB design tools that have been enhanced to give you every productivity advantage possible to shorten your design time and eliminate design errors. Altium Designer is continuously being enhanced to give you every design advantage possible.

To help your schematic creation Altium Designer has been enhanced with new part searching capabilities that will allow you to quickly find the parts you need along with all of their pricing, availability, and technical data. Altium Designer’s layout has also been enhanced with updated microvia support giving you much better control over the layout of your HDI designs. And to make sure that you keep your design schedule tight, you can use Altium Designer’s powerful 3D engine to adjust and verify your parts placement not only to other parts on the board but also to imported mechanical models and other system board designs. With Altium Designer you have design software that will grow with you as you grow making sure that you always have the most advanced PCB design tools available.

PCB Design Tools that are Enhanced for Next Generation Designs

If you are designing high-speed PCBs, you will need all of the advanced tools in Altium Designer to help with the latest design technologies.

To expertly deal with propagation delay and other high-speed design effects on your circuitry, start using Altium Designer today.

About Author

About Author

Zachariah Peterson has an extensive technical background in academia and industry. He currently provides research, design, and marketing services to companies in the electronics industry. Prior to working in the PCB industry, he taught at Portland State University and conducted research on random laser theory, materials, and stability. His background in scientific research spans topics in nanoparticle lasers, electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor devices, environmental sensors, and stochastics. His work has been published in over a dozen peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has written 2000+ technical articles on PCB design for a number of companies. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, American Physical Society, and the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA). He previously served as a voting member on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee working on technical standards for quantum electronics, and he currently serves on the IEEE P3186 Working Group focused on Port Interface Representing Photonic Signals Using SPICE-class Circuit Simulators.

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