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Power supply decoupling

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by [email protected], Apr 17, 2007.

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  1. Guest

    OK, so we have this guy who's pushing his multi-cap value idea onto
    our board. There's gonna be dozens of values. 68pf, 47pf, 680pf, you
    get the idea. The idea being to cover the entire spectrum from DC to
    2GHz+. My take on this is that every current loop into the BGA package
    where the CPU lives is a seperate entity. Wouldn't the location of
    each cap influence the L it sees, and therefore its resonant point?
    How can the guy be so sure of which caps to use before the layout is
    even begun?

    And wouldn't the location of each cap be important?

    It's for a CPU in a 672 pin BGA, on a 2x3 inch PCB. It runs quite fast
    and draws several amps,
  2. MooseFET

    MooseFET Guest

    Everything matters. The location of the capacitor, which way it
    faces, how far the vias are and the locations of the others. What you
    really hope is that there are no high Q tuned circuits formed by any
    of the capacitors and the inductances. Since the Xc of the bypass
    capacitor is near zero at high frequencies, you can be fairly sure
    that the Qs are low.

    The layer to layer capacitance makes for a lot of low impedance
    bypassing at the GHz end of the spectrum. The Z0 of the transmission
    line formed by the two layers is really low. If you make sure that
    the layout guy doesn't put the capacitors in nice pretty rows, you
    will be ok with just many 0.01u, and a couple of bigger valued ones.

    I would put the bigger capacitors so that one is near where the power
    comes onto the PCB and the other is as far from that as can be. Low
    ESR tant. would be what I would look at for them.

    One thing to watch for is the planes getting "sawn in half" by all the
    via holes needed to do the routing. Remember that the current is
    drawn in little spikes of a billion amps. These currents have to flow
    through the plane from the bypass to the actual pad.
  3. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    He isn't.

  4. Guest

    Why not just use 0306 caps that are meant to be used in low-ESL
    configurations? Every tried those?
    What's wrong with rows? You see caps in rows around packages all over
    the place.
    So why is the consultant pushing his octave-of-caps strategy? I'm not
    really asking you to read his mind, maybe just some insight as to why
    some people push that, while others push the "biggest cap value in a
    given package" principle?
    Lower ESR is not automatically "better", esp if there's a LDO
    somewhere that needs a certain resistance to guarantee stability.
    See, it's this kind of stuff I want to avoid: unintended consequences.
    Yes, I use unused-pad-removal. This lets me remove inner pads on vias
    so I can free up copper area. As long as the via has outer and inner
    pads, the plating action will occur.
  5. John  Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    Ludicrous. Have one ground plane and one plane for each major voltage.
    Keep the insulators between the planes thin, 5 mils or so, and put the
    ground plane between the two highest current power layers. Scatter
    0.33 uF or so 0603 or 0402 caps around to bypass each plane. For
    something like an fpga whose power drain is fairly steady, I use maybe
    4 caps per supply. If the CPU has big current steps (say, goes from
    sleep to multi amps instantly, or otherwise has low-frequency
    components to its supply current) you'll need enough bulk low-esr
    microfarads to handle that, too. The caps can be around the periphery
    of the chip, on top or bottom, but needn't be interior to the bga
    array unless it's convenient.

    The multiple-value capacitor thing is idiotic voodoo bypassing.

  6. How can people be so sure they know exactly what their
    hypothetical god wants?

    Its the same mental process at work.

    You need to replace this religious person with an artist.

    I would suggest a physicist, but I doubt you have the budget
    to find the absolutely best solution.
  7. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    There seems to be a new, growing profession: signal integrity witch

  8. Shake that chicken bone and chant the magic mantra...
  9. Steve

    Steve Guest

    Using multiple values like he is suggesting has merit when there are
    specific known frequencies that you want to clean up off the power supply
    (like the various clocks, local oscillators, etc.). If you use caps such as
    Kemet, with good published frequency domain data, you can select a value
    whose impedance minimum occurs at one of the frequencies of interest. If you
    only have a few troublesome frequencies, then this can be effective
    (depending on the Z of the power distribution, the loads, etc). But for
    broadband noise suppression, its no more effective than the "big cap plus
    little cap" approach you usually see. Using the Q characteristic helps for
    specific frequencies, but it provides no additional help for broadband
    suppression. You still need low impedance across the entire band for that.

    I've used this technique in RF designs to achieve high isolation among
    circuits on shared power. I don't think I've ever used more than 3 values in
    a design of this type, though. If there are too many values, it suggests to
    me that he is trying to solve too many individual (frequency) problems. It
    would be better to look for ways to subdivide the power distribution to
    localize individual problem frequencies. POL regulation is the way to
    achieve this.

  10. Guest

    Thanks, this is meaty stuff I can use. I'm up to my eyeballs in claims
    and counter-claims. I'm hitting the physics textbooks to read up on
    But again, it seems to me that the loop inducatnce of each cap is
    dependent on the layout, therefore reading off values from a datasheet
    is useless. Am I wrong?
  11. Jon

    Jon Guest

  12. MooseFET

    MooseFET Guest

    I never have. So far I've never seen a need to use a funny form
    factor capacitor. You can add normal shaped capacitors in parallel to
    get the low impedance.
    Rows often mean that the routing of the capacitor connections is
    longer. It is best to sprinkle.
    People often do things for what are really emotional reasons. They
    may have thought of the idea themselves or been told it by someone
    they respect. As a result they may be emotionally invested in the
    idea even though they can't justify it with logic.

    I don't use the "biggest in that package". I usually use the one I
    can get from two suppliers. I generally make it a rule never to use a
    part I can't get from Digikey. I do this to protect myself against
    "Oh that will be 52 weeks".

    Usually put very large highish ESR caps near the LDO when I use them.
    Yes, this is a good thing to do. It avoids having to push the vias
    around to make paths for the pour.
  13. John  Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    That's right, but keep in mind that the whole plane-chip-capacitor
    structure is a pretty low-Q system. The idea of Spice simulating
    paralleled capacitor models is naiive.

    I've never done a multilayer board that had high-frequency bypassing
    problems, and I keep reducing the bypass cap density. I know one guy
    who doesn't use bypass caps at all, and his stuff works too. We do
    sometimes have low frequency problems, like switcher ripple modulating
    cmos chip prop delay, or LDO instability.

    Some day I may do a serious LDO rant.

  14. Guest

    This paper is reasonable for a board of logic. However, there is merit
    to using low self inductance cerramic caps in parallel with larger
    value oscons. That is, a 0.1uf in parallel with a 10uf doesn't seem
    useless to me. But putting a 22pf ceramic in paralle with a 100pf
    ceramic doesn't make much sense.
  15. Ian

    Ian Guest

    Not useless, there are geometric effects, but layout is important.
    Once you have a board available, measure the actual impedance
    with a network analyser (i.e. load the decoupling caps and butch
    a good RF connector into the area you are interested in).

  16. John  Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    I don't think I've ever seen that done. One could plop a couple of SMA
    footprints on a pcb layout, power plane against ground, and do a VNA
    analysis to see what the resonances and impedances really are. I don't
    have a VNA, but I do this with a 20 GHz TDR, which is instructive.

    That would cut through a lot of "theory."

  17. John  Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    Better yet, use 10uF or 22uF ceramics. They are smaller, cheaper, have
    lower ESR and ESL, and are more reliable than any aluminum foil

  18. John Larkin wrote:
    I am looking forward to that.
  19. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    The guys at Sun have a paper where they do that. As I recall, the main
    difficulty is that you're looking at impedances that are very, very low, so
    you're really stressing the dynamic range of a 50 ohm VNA.

    Do you believe papers like this one? -->

    (When I say "believe" I mean, "do you think the simulation is an accurate
    reflection of what would happen on a real PCB?")

  20. MooseFET

    MooseFET Guest

    LDO Spit!

    The good old LM7805 makes a nice 5V and works as a TV transmitter
    too. What more could we want.
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