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Design instructors Rick Hartley and Mike Creeden recently spoke with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team about the current landscape of the PCB design segment. This wide-ranging conversation also focused on the next generation of designers, some promising new laminates, and the need for more communication and collaboration between designers and fabricators.
Andy Shaughnessy: Where do you see things right now as far as technology, software, and design?
Rick Hartley: The first thought that comes to mind is that things continue to reach higher speeds. Lee Ritchey does a class now about how to design up to 32 gigabits, which is almost the norm. Five to 10 years ago, people were concerned about having to do 2–6-gigabit designs, and there was a lot of chattering of teeth and wrenching of hands from people who were heading that direction. Now, people do that routinely, which also drives additional interference and EMI problems; I see this on a constant basis. I’ve had companies contact me recently, saying, “We have noise problems, and we have no idea how to solve them. Will you work with us on this?” I also read an interview recently with Dan Beeker, who said, “It has reached the point in the automotive world where people design PCBs and expect to fail EMI testing.”
Barry Matties: Why do you think they expect it to fail?
Hartley: They don’t know how to design circuit boards and haven’t figured out how to yet. There was a time when even though things were fast, they weren’t so blazingly fast that if you were doing a smaller board, you were lucky enough that the lines on the board weren’t distributed, the power distribution wasn’t so critical, etc.; sometimes they would fail, but sometimes they would pass. Too many people don’t know how to design to prevent things from failing, especially in the automotive world. For example, high-end airbag electronics have high layer-count boards. But for a lot of the microcontroller circuits and low-end things that go into cars, we expect to have low layer-count boards.
To read this entire interview, which appeared in the October 2019 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.