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Virtual Ground Fence: A Simple Method for Protection against High Frequency Simultaneous Switching Noise
Keywords: High Frequency Filtering, Virtual Ground Fence, Power Plane Filtering
When integrating sensitive RF analog devices with complex VLSI digital components, the same voltage source on a printed circuit board is shared to increase power efficiency and reduce space used. In order to accomplish this, on board filtering is needed to isolate the noise between these two types of devices for proper operation. Simultaneously switching drivers found in digital devices cause supply voltage fluctuations which can propagate both horizontally and vertically between the power/ground planes. This simultaneous switching noise gets coupled through the shared power distribution system and affects the performance of the RF analog devices. Hence, accurate estimation and improvement of the performance of power/ground planes is critical in a mixed-signal system. We present a new method to minimize the noise transfer at high frequencies to the power distribution system, called the Virtual Ground Fence. At its basic level, the Virtual Ground Fence consists of quarter-wave transmission-line stubs that act as short circuits between power and ground planes at their design frequency. This new design was first introduced at IMAPS ATW on RF and Microwave Packaging in February 2012 (Ref: Jesse Bowman, A. Ege Engin, "Virtual Ground Fence for Power Filtering on IC Packages and Printed Circuit Boards"). The topic of this paper is the different combinations of the array of such stubs that can be configured for protection against high frequency noise. The Virtual Ground Fence can be as small as an area to fit a single RF device such as a low noise amplifier or as large as the full length dimension of the printed circuit board so any device needing protection is effectively placed inside a Faraday cage, and isolated from the noise in the environment on the printed circuit board. We will present various configurations of Virtual Ground Fence for different coupling scenarios.
Jesse Bowman,
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA

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