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10 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2018 Dave Wiens Discusses Multi-board Design Techniques Feature by Andy Shaughnessy I-CONNECT007 Today, many products contain two or more PCBs, and multi-board design has become the rule rather than the exception for quite a few PCB designers. For this multi-board design issue, I recently interviewed Dave Wiens, prod- uct marketing manager for Mentor, a Siemens business. We discussed how the multi-board design technique differs from laying out single boards, along with the planning, analysis and verification processes required to design multi- board systems. Andy Shaughnessy: Dave, what are some of the typical end products that might use multiple PCBs? Dave Wiens: The easy answer is that almost every end-product that includes electronics is a multi-board system, even small products like your mobile phone. If you look up your phone model on iFixit, you'll see a teardown that has multiple boards. At a minimum, there'll be a separate board for the camera or for the audio or for the external connections. Those are all separate functions and, in some cases, when somebody's designing they won't necessarily design all those pieces. They might, for instance, be acquiring the camera from somebody else, and that basically represents a component. It is a complete PCB, but to them it's a component because they didn't design it. We're not necessarily talking big back planes, with tons and tons of data cards on them. Cer- tainly, that's a multi-board system, but pretty much everything you see today is multi-board. I don't know about you, but when some- thing in my house stops working, I tend to tear it apart. Sometimes I'm trying to figure out if I can fix it, but often I just want to see how they designed it. Really, when you're design- ing something and making decisions to make it into multiple boards, you start thinking about things like size and space. Should I put this all on one board? Should I break it up into multiple boards for space reasons? Should I do it because of reliability reasons? If this data board fails, it's easier to plug

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