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February 22, 2024
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A Comprehensive Guide to Unlocking the Power of XSignal

  • December 2, 2023
  • 3 min read
A Comprehensive Guide to Unlocking the Power of XSignal

The right-click context menu offers additional options for the panel region; including the ability to Change xSignal Color, hide/show xSignals on a PCB (checkbox), and delete an xSignal (button). The middle region displays xSignals from the xSignal Class(es) selected in the top-right of the panel. xSignals may be defined between two nodes in the same net or two nodes in different nets.

xSignal Basics

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Once the xSignals are identified, they can be added to a class using the Object Class Explorer dialog. The default option is to choose the existing xSignals class, but you can also enter a name for a new one if required.

Click OK to complete the analysis/creation process; the xSignals will be displayed in the xSignal mode of the PCB panel. If desired, the xSignals can be selected and the pads (and routing) highlighted using the Create X-Signals From Pads command. This is a great way to highlight a sub-set of the overall xSignals for further analysis or definition of classes and rules.

xSignal Classes

The left region of the panel lists xSignal classes, either those already defined (Classes>) or all available (All xSignals>). Select an xSignal class to see its xSignals list in the middle region and its visual representation in the PCB design space. The xSignal panel’s right-click context menu offers the ability to add (Add xSignal) or remove (Delete) an xsignal opportunity.

xSignals are used to group multiple nets of the same signal path into one class that can be scoped by relevant length and matched length rules during interactive length tuning. Unlike individual nets, xSignals handle routing paths formed by tracks and arcs and include vertical distance traversed through vias.

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xSignal Length Matching

As signals get faster and operating currents lower, it becomes increasingly important to have a good understanding of length matching requirements. This is especially true for differential signal pairs where there’s a requirement that the two edges of a data bit transmission arrive at the receiver at the same time, which is called clock-to-strobe timing.

To assist with the process, a new design rule allows you to specify a maximum allowed length difference between a target and actual signal path. This can be useful to avoid excessive copper lengths that can negatively impact signal integrity.

When a signal is routed using the xSignal mode, any length mismatches between the target and actual signal paths are highlighted with yellow or red respectively. In addition, the actual signal lengths will be displayed as part of the xSignal primitives list in the PCB editor. The actual signal lengths are based on the total pin package length of the IC and a pad’s conductive plating, plus any length adjustments needed due to component placement and/or etch size limitations.

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