Advanced Black Magic

Howard W. Johnson and Martin Graham
Prentice Hall, 2003
ISBN 0-13-084408-X
766 pages, hardback

This is an advanced-level reference text for experienced digital designers who want to press their designs to the upper limits of speed and distance. This book is a companion to the original book by Johnson and Graham, High-Speed Digital Design: A Handbook of Black Magic, Prentice Hall, 1993. The two books may be used separately or together. They cover different material.

The original book deals with a broad spectrum of high-speed phenomena. It builds a solid understanding of ringing, crosstalk, ground bounce, and power supply noise as they exist on printed circuit boards. It emphasizes basic circuit configurations where these effects may be easily understood and learned. It treats supplementary subjects including chip packages, oscilloscope probe, and power systems for high-speed digital products.

This High-Speed Signal Propagation book is more highly specialized, delving into issues relevant to transmission at the upper limits of speed and distance. If you need to transmit faster and further than ever before, this book shows you how. High-Speed Digital Design and High-Speed Signal Propagation together comprise a good reference set for persons working with high-speed digital technology.

NOTE: This book is not required for the High-Speed Signal Propagation Seminar, but it makes a terrific companion. The seminar treats a subset of the book material, and in a different way more condusive to live explanations. The book, being 776 pages in length, obviously delves into the subject matter in greater detail. Think of the seminar as an introduction and, if you like it, get the book for on-the-job reference.

Topics Covered

Printed circuit traces Limits to attainable speed and distance
RC and LC mode propagation
Skin effect and dielectric loss design charts and equations
Proximity effect
Surface roughness
Non-TEM mode of propagation
Step response
Effect of vias
Differential signaling Edge-coupled and broadside-coupled differential pairs
Effect of bends
Intrapair skew
Differential trace geometry and impedance
Inter-cabinet connections Coaxial cables
Twisted-pair cables
Fiber optics
General building wiring for LAN applications
Clock distribution Special requirements for clocks
Clock repeaters
Multidrop clock distribution
Clock jitter
Power filtering for clock sources
Simulation Frequency-domain simulation method
Applicability of Spice and IBIS

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How This Book Is Organized

Each chapter in this book treats a specialized topic having to do with high-speed signal propagation. They may be studied in any order.

Chapters 1 and 2 present the underlying physical theory of various transmission-line parameters, including the skin effect, proximity effect, dielectric loss, and surface roughness.

Chapter 3 develops a generalized frequency-response model common to all conductive media.

Chapter 4 outlines the calculation of time-domain waveforms from frequency-domain transfer functions.

Chapters 5 through 11 discuss specific transmission media, including single-ended pcb traces, differential media, general building wiring standards, unshielded twisted-pair wiring, 150-Ω shielded twisted-pair wiring, coaxial cables, and fiber.

Chapter 12 addresses miscellaneous issues concerning clock distribution.

Chapter 13 explores the limitations of Spice and IBIS simulation methods.

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A basic understanding of the frequency domain representation of linear systems is assumed. Readers without the benefit of formal training in analog circuit theory can use and apply the formulas and examples in this book. Readers who have completed a first-year class in introductory linear circuit theory will comprehend the material at a deeper level.

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Welcome, and thank you for your interest in High-Speed Signal Propagation: Advanced Black Magic. This is an advanced-level reference text for experienced digital designers who want to press their designs to the upper limits of speed and distance.

If you need to transmit faster and further than ever before, this book is here to help. You’ll find it packed with practical advice.

The material in this book has been honed during my many years of work as chief technical editor of standards for both Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet—projects which, I hope, have touched your life in a favorable way. During those and many other projects, the models and concepts described here have been of invaluable service to me. Now I’d like to pass them on to you.

When you are done reading, share your knowledge with those around you as my technical mentor, Martin Graham, has done with me. Educate your coworkers. Educate your management. Above all, continue to educate yourself. If this book inspires you to advance your understanding with even one laboratory measurement, then I will know you are on the right track.

I would also like to say it has been a great pleasure teaching and working with many of you through my classes and lectures. Above all, I appreciate those who take the time to share with me their thoughts, their concerns, their dreams, and their problems. It always interests me to hear about real experiences from real engineers.

I wish you the best of luck on your next design.

See you on the Internet,
Dr. Howard Johnson

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"The Prophet returns from the mountain with another tablet! One word to other designers about this book: Essential. It may well be the Rosetta Stone to understanding high-speed design concepts. It's filled with real-world remedies for dealing with high-speed signal problems, and it will be required reading for my entire design team."


NOTE: The MathCad modeling scripts accompany the text High-Speed Signal Propagation: Advanced Black Magic. These scripts may be used to simulate long, lossy transmission structures using the frequency-domain method. This method is known as the "gold standard" for linear-system simulation against which other simulation technologies are measured.

The scripts provide precise control over every parameter of simulation. They may be re-programmed to suit almost any need. The scripts are provided in MathCad syntax, and also in the form of .pdf files in case you want to just see the equations so you can port them to another brand of mathematical spreadsheet.

If you do not have a math spreadsheet, or do not know what that is, please read here.