DesignCon 2018 featured a 14-track conference covering the latest developments in hardware and high-speed communications design with over 100 technical sessions, three full day boot-camps, and more. The keynote presentations included NASA's New Horizons mission, the safety of autonomous vehicles and expert predictions of future challenges within engineering (panel session). Keynote speakers included Alice Bowman, Todd Hubing, Steve Sandler and Istvan Novak, from organizations such as Johns Hopkins University, Clemson University, Picotest, Oracle and more.

SIJSignal Integrity Journal editor, Eric Bogatin, reviewed many of the activities and new design insights he gained at the event on his blog here, including the first ever IEEE P370 Plug Fest which drew a good crowd. Signal Integrity Journal also collected photos from around the event and made a photo gallery and produced several video interviews and demos from Anritsu, R&S, Rogers, Keysight and Teledyne LeCroy. Signal Integrity Journal released their first print edition and handed out hundreds of copies at the event. The pdf version is available here.

Signal Integrity Journal visited many of the exhibitors at DesignCon 2018 and reviewed the products and demonstrations in their booths below:

American Standard Circuits (ASC) understands that today’s designers are challenged more than ever with the task of finding the optimal balance between cost and performance when designing radio frequency/microwave PCBs. Written by John Bushie, director of technology at American Standard Circuits, and Anaya Vardya, president and CEO, their micro eBook provides information needed to understand the unique challenges of RF PCBs. The authors answer two main questions: what is the correct material to use for a particular project, and what can be done at the design stage to make a product more manufacturable? Readers, especially RF PCB designers, will gain a better understanding of issues related to the design and manufacture of RF/microwave devices from a PCB fabricator perspective.

AMPHENOL was showing Paladin's® revolutionary architecture sets the benchmark for signal integrity performance in backplane interconnects for 112G. They have smooth linear transmission beyond 40 GHz and consistent SI performance over its entire mating range. Paladin® is designed for scalability and flexibility through use of a simplified connector construction. It also offers a broad product platform in the industry, supporting traditional backplanes, cable backplanes, over 100 potential direct orthogonal configurations, and much more. They also had ExaMAX 56G high speed orthogonal connector system. It is designed to enable superior 25G and provide a path to 56G in anticipation of bandwidth requirements and data rates used for high speed signaling. The also had on display SAS 4.0 connectors for next-generation servers with 24Gb/s speeds. The 29-position receptacle and plug connectors feature hot-plugging and blind-mating, connector misalignment compensation, and a PCB retention mechanism for robust SMT attachment. The connectors are SATA compliant and meet a wide range of vertical and right angle configurations for usage across server and storage equipment, HDDs, and HDD carriers.

AnritsuAnritsu Company announced its Signal Quality Analyzer-R (SQA-R) MP1900A has been certified as a compliance test solution for PCI Express® (PCIe®) 3.0 technology Link Equalization (Link EQ) tests and Receiver (Rx) Jitter Tolerance tests by the PCI-SIG® consortium. With support for the PCI Express 3.0 specification, as well as expandability to PCI Express 4.0 and 5.0 specifications, the MP1900A helps control capital equipment expenses while supporting various tests, such as PHY layer electrical characteristics and protocol tests, using a high-quality waveform pulse pattern generator (PPG) and high-sensitivity error detector (ED). The certified test solution integrates the SQA-R MP1900A with the Teledyne LeCroy SDA830Zi-B Serial Data Analyzer that has up to 30 GHz bandwidth and 80 GS/s sample rate. By offering simple expandability to support future PCI Express 4.0 and 5.0 specifications, the solution doesn’t only improve test times but also reduces cost-of-test. Here is a video demo of the system.

They also were showing off the VectorStar MS4647B 4-port instrument as part of a 70 GHz VNA solution, and ShockLine RF and Microwave VNAs were featured in a 43.5 GHz 4-port solution, as well as an automated VNA signal integrity compliance system.

ANSYS recently announced its next generation product, ANSYS® 19 that empowers engineers to develop groundbreaking products, from autonomous vehicles to smarter devices to more electric aircraft, at an unprecedented pace. ANSYS 19 helps engineers manage complexity and enhance productivity, empowering users to provide even more accurate answers across the broadest range of applications – making simulation even more pervasive. Thermal impact on the design is a key driver for material selection, cooling strategy and form factor decisions that ultimately determine the size, weight and cost of the final product.  So ANSYS 19 delivers a robust, integrated electromagnetic-thermal workflow that predicts crucial thermal effects within electronics designs. ANSYS 19 for semiconductors provides comprehensive simulation solutions that simultaneously solve for various design attributes such as power noise, thermal properties, reliability and performance across the spectrum of chip, package and system. The big data simulation platform in ANSYS 19 enables rapid design iterations across multiple operating conditions and its actionable analytics can be used to prioritize design fixes to accelerate time to market.

CadenceCadence demonstrated how you can optimize signal and power integrity design for the latest DDR and serial link interfaces. Cadence booth demos highlighted the following:

  • Constraint-driven power integrity design and analysis featuring easy setup with automated model and source/sink assignments
  • Using patented simulation techniques to analyze equalization associated with high-speed DDR memory interfaces
  • Multi-gigabit serial link design and analysis featuring compliance testing for popular interfaces such as PCI Express® (PCIe®) 4.0
  • DDR-4400 IBIS-AMI model development
  • Streamlining the flow between IC design and package/PCB design

Carlisle was displaying their Card Edge Connectors contact system, designed for high-speed, high-density applications, has a smooth mating surface area, which reduces the wear and tear of contacts and increases the durability and cycle life of the contact system. It saves space and cost with a contact pitch of 0.8mm, minimized stub length and integral ground blade for high performance. It also lowers insertion and withdrawal forces while supporting data rates up to 25 GHz with excellent signal integrity. They also showed off CoreHC Interconnect Solution, a direct attach cable assembly that is a multi-channel, test point system targeted for high-density boards where space is limited. It offers reduced trace lengths and higher signal integrity compared to boards using traditional SMA-type connectors. On average, there is four times higher available bandwidth for signals in the same real estate as SMA connectors. This latest version of the Core HC interconnect solution is now a solderless, one-piece interface for PCB vertical and edge launch in a small footprint, which will save time and reduce overall costs because no soldering to the board is required. It is also designed for high-cycle capability without sacrificing signal integrity.

CSTCST showcased the recently released CST STUDIO SUITE® 2018, which contains a number of tools to help engineers design, analyze and improve PCB layouts. The dedicated PCB simulation tools in CST STUDIO SUITE can be used to characterize the behavior of a layout quickly.  CST STUDIO SUITE® also includes a rule-checking tool for PCB layouts, CST BOARDCHECK, which can automatically detect structures that may cause SI/PI or EMC problems. Layouts can be converted directly into a 3D model for full-wave simulation or into an equivalent circuit model for circuit simulation, with specialized meshing algorithms optimized for complex printed structures. IC designs can be imported through the CST chip interface, which mimics the real fabrication process to produce accurate simulation models.

EMSCAN launched the EMxpert ERX - the fastest high-resolution EMC/EMI scanner has been redesigned to operate with a high-performance external spectrum analyzer. Now, they can use the EMxpert ERX with their high-end external spectrum analyzers. EMSCAN’s EMxpert ERX provides eight levels of resolution (60 microns to 7.5 mm) enabling the PCB and design engineers to diagnose EMC/EMI problems between 150 kHz and 8 GHz. It will soon be available to 20 GHz.

KeysightKeysight Technologies unveiled PathWave, the industry’s first software platform that integrates design, test, measurement and analysis.  PathWave is an open, scalable, and predictive software platform that integrates hardware and software at every stage in the product development workflow. It combines design software, instrument control, and application-specific test software in an open development environment allowing users to create high-performance solutions fast. In addition, Keysight was featuring the following demos: a comprehensive test solution, featuring the new N1076B 16/32/64 GBaud Electrical Clock Recovery Solution, for analysis of PAM4 designs defined in emerging standards such as IEEE 802.3bs/cd and OIF-CEI-56G/112G; Keysight EEsof ADS 2017 signal integrity channel simulation combined with powerful N8844A Data Analytics Software to quickly and easily compare simulation results with measured data; new Physical Layer Test System (PLTS) 2017, including the addition of PAM4 eye diagram testing, introduces significant breakthrough capabilities with regards to manufacturing test of high-speed interconnects; new S93011A PNA-TDR software offering digital signal integrity engineers a one-box solution for characterizing high-speed serial interconnects; and Keysight EEsof ADS 2017, including the new ElectroThermal simulator for PIPro, provides a complete solution for the power integrity (PI) workflow, such as DC IR Drop, DC electro-thermal, and PDN impedance analysis, with a special bill of materials optimization for decaps. We interviewed the Keysight CTO about trends in the industry and Pathware plus 2 demos in their booth here.

HUBER+SUHNER launched the MXPM70, the latest addition to the ganged multi-coax family. The MXPM70 cabling solution features a small form factor and excellent electrical characteristics. It combines reliable mating and ease of use, providing users with a higher level of precision. The multi-coax connector solution is user-friendly, providing a coaxial-to-PCB transition of up to 70 GHz (with option to 85 GHz) smart interface protection and an innovative locking mechanism.

The SUCOFLEX 500 series was also on display with the 500S test assembly with industry leading return and insertion loss. Expanding the company’s current portfolio to include high performance test assemblies of up to 50 GHz, the SF550S also provides a heightened phase and amplitude stability verses flexure and movement. They also showcased their ultra-broadband solutions of 1.0mm assemblies and adaptors which will enable accurate measurement from DC to 110 GHz.