Next-gen speeds were all the buzz at DesignCon this week at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley. Vendors from across the industry were showcasing their latest solutions: semiconductors, connectors, test and measurement, EDA, etc.
One popular solution was backplane connectors and applications. Faster speeds and new backplane system architectures were front-and-center in many of the DesignCon booths.
TI/Samtec 56Gbps PAM4 Backplane Demo
TI and Samtec partnered on a 56Gbps PAM4 backplane product demonstration in the TI booth. The demo combined TI’s next-gen 56Gbps PAM4 Linear Repeater with Samtec’s ExaMAX® High-Speed Backplane Connector System.
What did the signal path look like? Two ports of 56 Gbps PAM4 data were sourced from a BERT and pattern generator. The signals routed through high-precision RF jumpers to a test paddleboard made of Isola Tachyon laminate material. The paddleboard connected to a Tachyon-based backplane via EBTM/EBTF-RA series backplane connectors.
The signal route went through the second set of EBTM/EBTF-RA connectors to a second paddleboard. Via RF jumpers, the signals routed to the TI 56Gbps PAM4 Linear Repeater eval board, and then finally back to the BERT.
Between the two test paddleboards, the backplane, and the two ExaMAX mated backplane connector sets, the demo set-up has approximately a 30” length trace. This mimics real-world, next-generation backplane applications typically found in the data center.
The TI/Samtec demonstration gave good results. The Samtec ExaMAX Backplane demo provided an insertion loss of 20,4 dB at 14GHz across the entire channel. The TI 56Gbps PAM4 Linear Equalizer opened the eye of signals to enable the long reach signal path. BERs of approximately 6.00 e -7 were achieved across both channels
The results achieved from this combined TI/Samtec backplane demonstration prove the viability of 56 Gbps PAM4 signals in next-generation backplane applications found in data center equipment.
These Texas Instruments56Gbps PAM4 Linear Repeaters offer many benefits to system designers. They extend the reach of high-speed signals while helping to reduce overall BOM costs. They do not require a heat sink, they help minimize channel latency.
The Samtec ExaMAX backplane connector system offers 56 Gbps PAM4 solutions. They are available in traditional, orthogonal, and cable backplane applications (coming soon). The ExaMAX contact system has two reliable points of contact at all times and minimizes residual stub. They provide low mating force and excellent contact normal force.