High-Speed Digital Design

Key similarities and differences between high-speed digital and microwave hardware.

Dr. Johnson headshot

High-speed digital design and microwave design share a rich heritage of electrical engineering theory, yet, key differences separate these two fields and the people that work in them.

For example, most digital engineers are not equipped either by training or natural inclination to comprehend the intricacies of traveling-wave physics. They may learn necessary bits and pieces of this theory through on-the-job training, but rarely attain the full level of physical understanding common among professionals in the microwave industry.

If digital technology is to advance, with speeds rising to levels previously reserved for only the highest-technology microwave systems, this author believes that more cross-pollination of the fields must occur.

Towards the goal of developing better communication between the two disparate fields, the following survey of 29 selected topics addresses design factors common to both digital and microwave engineering, with an eye towards explaining the terminology and conventions prevalent in digital engineering. The targets of discussion include digital transmitters, transmission pathways and receivers, all in the context of a high-speed serial link.

Such a collection of topics can never be all-encompassing. I can only hope that, at least, you find in this list some topics that seem unusual or pique your interest in further reading.

read full text...