Designing the right PCB stackup can make or break product performance. If the product has circuitry that is impedance and transmission loss sensitive, then paying attention to conductor surface roughness is paramount. Sometimes, however, the roughness of adjacent reference plane(s) is overlooked. If the adjacent high-speed signal layer uses smoother copper than one or both reference planes, a higher insertion loss than expected for that layer will occur and possibly cause a product to fail compliance. So, how is this determined before finalizing the stackup? Read on to find out.