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The backplane and beyond

Differential signalling claims immunity as it gangs up on the interconnect bus. By Vanessa Knivett.

High speed communications requiring fast data transfer and low power are driving electronics development, nowhere more so than in the interconnect solutions arena. The requirements of moving video and 3D graphics across the system i.e. from board to board and from system to system, have left those designers working with older interconnect technologies with a tough compromise – which do they sacrifice; performance, power, noise or cost? Whilst some of the older interconnect technologies provide good signal integrity (as shown in the table below), their power consumption and lower throughput levels means that they are increasingly being replaced by lvds. The low voltage, low power differential technology developed for short range point to point transfer is now also being used outside the scope of the TIA/EIA 644 standard, in bus oriented multi drop applications.

The development of lvds was driven in particular by National Semiconductor, which was one of the first companies to realise that existing interconnect technologies were just not going to be able to cope with future data transfer needs. In the early 1990s, the company participated in the IEEE1596 committee, which defined the high speed interface. The company also played a central role in writing the standard, which was intended to replace emitter coupled logic (ecl) devices. Lvds is actually covered by two standards, the Telecommunications Industry Association/Electronic Industries Association ANSI/TIA/EIA-644 standard, and the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineering IEEE 1596.3 standard.

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Graham Pitcher

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