Thierauf Design & Consulting: Signal Integrity Design, Analysis & Training

Excited at how well my new Power Integrity Lab Manual is doing!

Even though Amazon has only now activated the “Look Inside” feature, worldwide sales are already outpacing the SI Lab Manual over the same period.

Awestruck by the number of readers who bought the book essentially “sight unseen”.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the Table of Contents, the Preface (which describes the book in some detail) and samples from a theory chapter and an experimental chapter.

Interesting to me that sales are nearly evenly divided between Europe/Asia and NA. In contrast, SI Lab Manual sales are somewhat stronger in NA than Europe/Asia.

I encourage educators interested in using this book as part of their classwork to contact me regarding possible discounts and ancillary material and related projects that are under development.

Anyone interested in getting in touch, or wanting more information, can email me here.

The Power Integrity Lab Manual is now available!

The artwork and tables look good in the most recent set of page proofs, so it was finally time to release the book.

It's only available in soft cover; I'm not releasing a hard cover or eBook version (scroll down to read my blog entry dated 2 August if you're interested in my eBook reasoning).

I'll post a sample chapter soon. In the meantime, contact me here if you'd like a sample from the book, or if you have questions.


Here's an updated running list of commonly asked questions regarding my new power integrity lab manual. Contact me here if you have questions or would like more information.

  • What's the book's status?
    • The hard copy I received for review looked good overall, but 8 figures weren't as clear in print as I wanted. I've revised them and made a few other tweaks to the manuscript. I'm waiting to receive a new hard copy for a final review.
    • The book is 162 pages in length and has the same dimensions and price as my Signal Integrity Lab Manual (7.5 x 9.25 inches; 19 x 23.5cm, $29.95USD). Fifteen highly detailed experiments and three build projects along with the corresponding analysis are covered in 6 chapters, 4 appendices, and a bibliography
  • When will the book be available?
    • The book should be available on Amazon by mid-August, and a bit later from other retailers.
  • Will the book be available electronically?
    • No, I'm not planning on releasing an electronic version (on the Kindle, for example). If enough requests come in I'll reconsider that decision, but formatting a technical manuscript so it presents properly in electronic form is non-trivial. The graphics and the surrounding text, tables and some lists can get munged by the conversion process and must be hand corrected. In that regard technical books aren't like novels which are usually straight forward to convert.
  • How Difficult are the experiments and projects?
    • They are purposefully simple while still being informative. Undergraduate students and graduates in electrical engineering, computer engineering, electromechanical engineering along with computer scientists, technicians and some hobbyists building electronic hardware will find the experiments informative and easy to do. Most experiments require basic familiarity using a dual channel oscilloscope (preferably 200MHz) and a bench power supply. Some require a function generator. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a more complete equipment list.
  • How is decoupling explained?
    • The book first looks at decoupling in the time domain (the “supplying charge” point of view) and then in the frequency domain (the “PDN target impedance” approach).
  • How is decoupling in the time domain demonstrated?
    • The experiments you’ll perform will show you that poor decoupling can change an IC’s timing, alter a signal’s wave shape, and can cause runt pulses to occur. You’ll use a small ferrite to create a current probe; these experiments are really neat because you’ll see the relative magnitudes of the current provided by the DCAPs and the power supply when an IC switches, and you’ll see how adding DCAPs changes that.
  • How is decoupling in the frequency domain explained?
    • The book discusses signal and power supply harmonics and target impedance in some detail and shows how adding DCAP can change the PDN's impedance and suppress high frequency harmonics but also sometimes makes high frequency noise worse. You'll use your homemade current probe to measure the harmonics in a signal and in the power feeding an IC. DCAP ESL and resonance (including the important topic of multiple resonances) are also discussed and measured in the lab.
  • Is DCAP resonance covered?
    • Yes, you’ll learn how to use an oscilloscope or a homemade RF voltmeter to measure DCAP resonance. As part of this you’ll see how interconnect inductance and capacitance effect the frequency and shape of the DCAP’s resonance curve.
  • Who is this manual written for?
    • Students and degreed electrical engineers and computer engineers and electronics technicians wishing to learn the basics of power integrity in electronic systems by performing practical, low cost and straightforward hands-on experiments with inexpensive CMOS IC’s.
  • How is the book arranged?
    • The chapters come in pairs: A chapter presenting theory is followed by a chapter of experiments demonstrating that material.
    • Chapters 1 (theory) and 2 (experiments) briefly cover the characteristics of CMOS I/O so you’ll understand why power problems can lead to signal integrity problems.
    • Chapters 3 and 4 cover decoupling and DCAPs theory and experiments in the time domain.
    • Chapters 5 and 6 discuss decoupling, DCAPs and PDN impedance theory and experiments in the frequency domain.
    • Appendix A and Appendix B provide detailed build notes for the projects, including instructions for building and testing the RF voltmeter and AC current probes.
    • Appendix C is a review of decibels. This chapter is supplemental: Decibels only appear in a few places in the manual and this material is included to assist those readers unfamiliar with them.
    • Appendix D discusses frequency harmonics in a pulse.
  • What will I need to perform the experiments?
    • A solderless breadboard.
    • A handful of resistors, capacitors, a ferrite or two, a few low-cost IC’s and some test leads. None of the parts are rare, and all are readily available.
  • What test gear will I need?
    • An adjustable power supply (although some of the experiments require a second supply or a 9V battery).
    • A DMM (it’s a bonus if your DMM can measure capacitance).
    • A 200MHz bandwidth dual channel oscilloscope. You can get away with a 100MHz scope, but your results won’t closely match the results in the manual. A sub-100MHz scope is OK for a few of the experiments, but in general low bandwidth scopes won’t work well. It’s a plus (but not a necessity) if your scope can perform an FFT.
    • A function generator that outputs a square wave up to around 5MHz and a sine wave up to about 15MHz. You still can perform some of the experiments even if your generator doesn't go up that high. It’s not necessary for it to have a sweep function.

Here’s the latest regarding the power integrity lab manual.

The lab manual includes experiments showing how to measure resonance, determining the resonant frequency of DCAPs and their ESL, and how unused gates can be used to measure power supply noise.

There are also experiments to observe the frequencies (harmonics) present in the current drawn by an IC when it switches, and how DCAPs alter the impedance (for good and bad) of the PDN (the power delivery network).

Vetting and retesting of the experiments is nearly complete. In its present form the manual contains 15 experiments with detailed sample results showing you what the outcomes should be, and many additional supplemental experiments for you to try out on your own. At last count there are nearly 60 graphics (photographs, schematic drawings and graphs) and several tables of reference data and results. These stats will almost certainly change as the book is edited.

Besides the experiments the lab manual also shows you in detail how to build an optional RF voltmeter and how to build a current sensor so you can observe the switching current of IC’s (in both the time and frequency domains).

Click on this link to go to my earlier post containing some helpful background info.

I’ll soon post a detailed Table of Contents once the editing if further along. In the meantime, contact me here if you’d like more information such as an early look at a sample chapter.

A New Lab Manual Is Coming!

I have a new lab manual introducing the basics of power integrity in the works!

This new manual is the next volume in the lab manual series and follows the same format as the signal integrity lab manual: A concise chapter discussing concepts and theory is followed by a chapter detailing the experiments you can perform to see for yourself how those ideas perform in action, on real hardware.

The experiments use a solderless protoboard and a few inexpensive through-hole ICs. To perform all of the experiments you’ll need an oscilloscope (a scope having a 50 or 100MHz bandwidth is fine), a signal generator, a 5V benchtop power supply and a DMM. Rather than a bench supply some of the experiments can be powered by a 9V battery, and some of the projects show you how to make your own signal source instead of requiring a signal generator.

There are three chapters of experiments and three theoretical background chapters covering the sources of power supply noise, decoupling in the time domain and decoupling in the frequency domain. Three appendices and a bibliography close out the book. The appendices show you how to build and test an optional RF voltmeter and how to build a current sensor so you can see how a DCAP provides charge when an IC switches.

This book is aimed at the student, technician or engineer wishing to perform experiments to understand the roots of power supply noise, why it’s a problem in CMOS systems, and wanting to understand by doing decoupling as seen from the time domain and the frequency domains.

Contact me here if you’d like more information

Ever wonder how wide to make the trace when routing from a DCAP to a via or pin?

This paper shows that (for typical circuit boards) traces in the 10 – 20 mils (0.25 – 0.5mm) range have reached the point of diminishing return in lowering inductance: You’ll have to make the trace a great deal wider than this to even get an incremental improvement in inductance.

You can download the PDF here.

This is the first in a series of “Back to Basics” signal integrity white papers. Contact me here if there is a particular topic you’d like to see addressed.

The link for Understanding Signal Integrity's student problem set solution manual was accidentally deactivated for awhile, but it's now been restored. Click here to down load the PDF for the solution manual.

Click here to read a brief description about the book (you'll need to scroll down an bit). The solution manual can be downloaded from there, too. 

It’s looking like the 2ed Edition to High-Speed Circuit Board Signal Integrity will be available by the end of May. I’ve just finished reviewing the first set of page proofs and will have a final review in March. Then it’s off to the presses!

This edition is a complete revision of the 1st edition. It’s been totally reorganized, has about 30% more figures and text, and contains lots of new material (including new chapters about reflections and terminations).

The book shows:

  • How to design circuit board traces for a specific impedance and how to terminate them
  • How to determine delay time and how to properly add intentional delay
  • How circuit board characteristics effect electrical performance
  • The electrical difference between microstrip and stripline traces
  • How to analyze, design and terminate differential pairs
  • How to analyze and mitigate signal attenuation
  • The different the types of crosstalk, how to calculate their values, and provides techniques to reduce their effects
  • The actual electrical behavior and characteristics of ceramic capacitors
  • And it introduces power integrity and thoroughly discusses the importance of signal return paths

Contact me if you'd like more information.