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525.434—High-Speed Digital Design and Signal Integrity Course Homepage

Instructor Information

Harry Eaton

Work Phone: 443-778-4506

Course Information

Course Description

This course will discuss the principles of signal integrity and its applications in the proper design of high-speed digital circuits. Topics include the following: the definition and fundamentals of signal integrity, the fallacies believed by digital designers, ground/power planes, PCI series termination resistors, simulation software and signal integrity, ground bounce calculations, power bus noise, high-speed return signals, transmission lines, gate delay, differential pair skew, bypass capacitor layout, cable shield grounding, power-ground source impedance, open drain lines, series termination, equivalent circuit source impedance, terminators, crosstalk and SSO noise, gigabit ethernet specification, and short transmission line model.


Thorough knowledge of digital design and basic circuit theory.

Course Goal

To understand the fundamentals of high speed signal propagation in circuits and cables. To be able to apply this knowledge to determine where signal integrity issues may arrise and how to solve problems of poor digital signal integrity.

Course Objectives

  • To use hand calculations to solve propagation and termination problems on lossless and low-loss transmission lines for digital circuits.

  • To understand how the physical layout of signal and return paths affect transmission line characteristics including characteristic impedance, propagation skew, and cross talk.

  • To use signaling and coding strategies to improve signal integrity in high-speed serial links.
  • To use computer simulations with SPICE and HyperLynx to analyze singal integrity problems.

When This Course is Typically Offered

Each fall term at APL


  • Timing Budgets
  • Distributed Circuits & Electromagnetics
  • Transmission Lines/Termination
  • Microstrip, Stripline & Cables
  • I/O circuits, loading, IBIS & SPICE models
  • Computer Simulations
  • Eye Diagrams, Inter-symbol Interference
  • Equalization, Pre-emphasis/De-emphasis
  • Coupled Lines and Differential Signaling
  • Serial Coding
  • Noise, Jitter & Ground Bounce
  • Power Supply Integrity

Student Assessment Criteria

Class Participation 10%
Homework 40%
Mid-Term Exam 25%
Final Exam 25%

Students are expected to do their own homework. Homework is due at the beginning of the next class after it is assigned.  The homework solutions will be presented in class after it is collected so no late homework will be accepted. Assignments will be graded and returned the following week.

A grade of A indicates achievement of consistent excellence and distinction throughout the course—that is, conspicuous excellence in all aspects of assignments and discussion in every week.

A grade of B indicates work that meets all course requirements on a level appropriate for graduate academic work. These criteria apply to both undergraduates and graduate students taking the course.

100-90 = A
89-75 = B
74-65 = C
<65 = F

Computer and Technical Requirements

Students should be proficient in solving simple circuit problems (RLC circuits). Students should have fundamental computer skills and be able to learn the use of simulation programs. Students should have some basic knowledge of electromagnetics.

Participation Expectations

There will be weekly homework assignments.

Exams will be in-class, closed book, but open notes. Calculators will be permitted.

During the lectures, the instructor will ask questions of the class. Students will not usually (but may occasionally) be singled out for a response, so everyone should try to participate. These lecture questions serve two functions: to gauge the student's understanding of the presented material to see if more background or recapitulation is needed, and to gauge student's willingness and ability to think about the problems at hand.


Textbook information for this course is available online through the MBS Direct Virtual Bookstore.

Course Notes

There are no notes for this course.

(Last Modified: 09/10/2010 07:22:45 PM)