High Speed Digital PCB

High speed PCB’s are currently classified into 3 main segments, RF, Microwave, and Millimeter wave. Technically speaking these categories overlap in frequencies, but generally the names and their frequency bandwidths are as follows…RF PCB, (radio frequency printed circuit board) is thought of as any high speed board that operates in the 50MHz, (sometimes 100MHz) to 1GHz, (sometimes 2GHz) frequency band. Microwave PCB’s generally are classified as operating in the 1GHz to 30GHz range. Lastly, the millimeter wave operates generally in the 30GHz to 300GHz range. The newest growth trend currently is the Millimeter wave technology that is being primarily driven by the cellphone industry. The reason for their push is for next generation communication which some are calling ‘5G’ networks.

For the manufacturer of the PCB, the label is irrelevant. The main interest of the manufacturer is what materials are selected for the particular high speed PCB design. Reason being is that each material has it’s own properties to a certain degree and require different manufacturing disciplines. Material selection is the single most important part of high speed PCB boards and ideally in most cases requires a joint collaboration between design engineers and PCB manufacturers because of the ‘trade-offs’ that could be experienced between different material types.

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