The PCB Design Magazine

PCBD-Feb2014

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8 The PCB Design Magazine • February 2014 by Andy Shaughnessy i-COnneCT007 THE SHAUGHNESSy REPoRT DesignCon: A PCB Design Show column Every DesignCon, we get a chance to check out the current state of PCB (and IC) design, as well as the latest from the EDA tool industry. This year's conference boasted a variety of pa- pers on signal integrity, EMC, test and measure- ment, and high-speed PCB design in general. There was plenty of focus on 10 Gb Ethernet, and a slew of skew coverage too. I also heard a lot about convergence, such as signal and power integrity capabilities in the same tool environ- ment, and signal integrity and EMC. The true geeks started off by performing a teardown of their badges to examine the RFID chips that lay behind our names. (I was afraid I'd mess up my badge and have to sneak onto the show floor through a back door. Not that I've ever done that, of course.) It's hard to be - lieve that RFID is cheap enough to be printed onto disposable trade show badges. Who's working on the next RFID, the next big thing? Keynote speaker Eileen Bartholomew, se- nior vice president of prize development for the XPRIZE Foundation, is weighing that same ques- tion. The foundation is helping speed the devel- opment of new technology by incentivizing in- novation with unique, press-grabbing contests. In 2004, the group awarded a $10 million prize to the developers of Spaceship One, which car- ried three people 100 kilometers into space. Bartholomew challenged attendees to think in terms of disruptive technology, and to avoid being afraid of failure. And, as she explained, money is a great motivational tool. She pointed out that Charles Lindbergh, a hero of XPRIZE creator Peter Diamandis, was motivated to fly across the Atlantic Ocean by a $25,000 prize of - fered by hotelier Raymond Orteig. One $30 million XPRIZE contest challenges private entities—not governments—to land a robot on the moon and send back images and data. Other projects will focus on creating a bat- tery that's up to 1,000 times better than current batteries and tackling illiteracy in children. Lofty goals, all driven by the pursuit of cash. Nothing wrong with that! The DesignVision Awards were presented, with Altium earning an award for its Altium De- signer 14 tool suite. FCI took home an award for its ExaMAX high-speed backplane connector sys- tem, as did ANSYS for its PathFinder D technol- ogy, its third consecutive DesignVision Award. On the final day, I moderated a materials panel that covered the development of lami- nates for speeds up to 50 Gb/s. I was joined by Bryan Nelson of Sanmina, Doug Leys of Park Electrochemical, Dirk Baars of Rogers Corpora- tion, and Fred Hickman of Isola. We discussed the industry's efforts to develop epoxies that are less lossy and suitable for 50 Gb/s and beyond, as well as possible ways to make PTFE more pro- cessable for multilayer PCBs. The Q&A period got everyone talking. As one designer said to me before the panel, "PTFE? More like WTF?" We stayed busy from beginning to end, shooting Real Time with… video interviews with

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