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36 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2022 Shaughnessy: What criteria should designers keep in mind when evaluating their educa- tional needs to stay on top of their game in the industry? Brooks: Printed circuit design methods and knowledge are not static. Learn about the resources available from authors, industry experts, manufacturers, and assembly houses. Help educate yourself and then stay connected. Shaughnessy: When I first started covering PCB design in the late '90s, there were no "critical paths" to becoming a designer. Is an engineering degree becoming the critical path for future designers? Brooks: No. ough many aspects of PCB design are engineering tasks, an engineering degree is not required for much of what we do. ere are good tools out there to help and hav- ing an interest in solving puzzles is more useful than knowing transistor theory. Shaughnessy: Is there anything else you'd like to add? Brooks: Get to work. Shaughnessy: Good advice. anks, Bill. Brooks: ank you, Andy. DESIGN007 By Brad Griffin When designing an electronic system, ensuring power integrity (PI) is all about making sure that the power you are putting into the system via the voltage regulator module (VRM) reaches the down- stream components in an efficient, sufficient, and stable manner. In the not-so-distant past, ensuring the PI of an electronic system was a relatively simple and pain- free task. Many products involved a single PCB pop- ulated by readily available off-the-shelf ICs, such as the classic 7400-series devices from Texas Instru- ments. For the purposes of PI, these ICs, which were presented in low pin count, coarse pin pitch packages could be treated as closed boxes represented by simple power models. Meanwhile, in the case of tra- ditional multi-board systems, the boards were typically plugged into— and powered by—a common back- plane. This meant that, from a PI per- spective, so long as each board met its total power budget, the boards could be largely designed and veri- fied in isolation. Time marches on and so things have indeed changed. Many of today's electronic designs feature multiple PCBs connected directly together, where each board may be populated by a mix of discrete components, off-the-shelf ICs and custom system- on-chip (SoC) devices. These high-capacity, high- performance, high pin count, fine pin pitch ICs and SoCs have sophisticated PI models associated with them. Many boards also feature system-in-package (SiP) devices in which multiple chiplets (unpackaged silicon die) are mounted on a common interposer and presented in a single package. Such interpos- ers may be formed from a variety of materials, with silicon providing the finest features and highest interconnect densities. Each SiP may be considered as a small, spe- cialized board in its own right. In the case of this class of design, at some stage PI will have to be performed on the entire system, including all the ICs, SoCs, SiPs, PCBs, connec- tors and cables. To read this entire column, click here. All Systems Go! Ensuring Power Integrity: Explore, Design, and Verify Brad Griffin

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