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Backplane PCB

  • Backplane-PCB
  • backplane-pcb1

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Item Flexible pcb Rigid-Flexible pcb Rigid PCB
Max Layer 8L 36L 60L
Inner Layer Min Trace/Space 3/3mil 3/3mil 3/3mil
Out Layer Min Trace/Space 3.5/4mil 3.5/4mil 3/3mil
Inner Layer Max Copper 2oz 6oz 6oz
Out Layer Max Copper 2oz 3oz 6oz
Min Mechanical Drilling 0.1mm 0.15mm 0.15mm
Min Laser Drilling 0.1mm 0.1mm 0.1mm
Aspect Ratio(Mechanical Drilling) 10:1 12:1 20:1
Aspect Ratio(Laser Drilling) / 1:1 1:1
Press Fit Hole Ttolerance ±0.05mm ±0.05mm ±0.05mm
PTH Tolerance ±0.075mm ±0.075mm ±0.075mm
NPTH Tolerance ±0.05mm ±0.05mm ±0.05mm
Countersink Tolerance ±0.15mm ±0.15mm ±0.15mm
Board Thickness 0.1-0.5mm ±0.1mm 0.4-8mm
Board Thickness Tolerance(<1.0mm) ±0.05mm ±0.1mm ±0.1mm
Board Thickness Tolerance(≥1.0mm) / ±10% ±10%
Impedance Tolerance Single-Ended:±5Ω(≤50Ω),±10%(>50Ω) Single-Ended:±5Ω(≤50Ω),±10%(>50Ω) Single-Ended:±5Ω(≤50Ω),±7%(>50Ω)
Differential:±5Ω(≤50Ω),±10%(>50Ω) Differential:±5Ω(≤50Ω),±10%(>50Ω) Differential:±5Ω(≤50Ω),±7%(>50Ω)
Min Board Size 5*10mm 10*10mm 10*10mm
Max Board Size 9*14inch 22.5*30inch 22.5*30inch
Contour Tolerance ±0.05mm ±0.1mm ±0.1mm
Min BGA 7mil 7mil 7mil
Min SMT 7*10mil 7*10mil 7*10mil
Surface Treatment ENIG,Gold Finger,Immersion Silver,Immersion Tin,HASL(LF),OSP,ENEPIG,Flash Gold;Hard gold plating ENIG,Gold Finger,Immersion Silver,Immersion Tin,HASL(LF),OSP,ENEPIG,Flash Gold;Hard gold plating ENIG,Gold Finger,Immersion Silver,Immersion Tin,HASL(LF),OSP,ENEPIG,Flash Gold;Hard gold plating
Solder Mask Green Solder Mask/Black PI/Yellow PI Green Solder Mask/Black PI/Yellow PI Green,Black,Blue,Red,Matt Green
Min Solder Mask Clearance 3mil 1.5mil 1.5mil
Min Solder Mask Dam 8mil 3mil 3mil
Legend White,Black,Red,Yellow White,Black,Red,Yellow White,Black,Red,Yellow
Min Legend Width/Height 4/23mil 4/23mil 4/23mil
Strain Fillet Width 1.5±0.5mm 1.5±0.5mm /
Bow & Twist / 0.05% 0.3%
Table of Contents
Primary Item (H2)

Isn’t it amazing to even think about how our smartphones allow flawless chatting and data transfer? All that is possible thanks to a type of PCB also known as backplane PCB! It is this printed circuit that lends synergy to all other micro and macro components of most electronic devices. Thus, enabling the device to simplify day-to-day tasks for you. 

Here in this article, we will delve a little deeper to shed more light on backplane PCBs, what exactly are their functions, and much more. But before we get into these minute details, it's essential to form a good understanding of the various types of these backplanes and what makes them unique per se. 

What is a backplane?

To make things easy for you to understand, these backplanes are the gadgets that  backbone of  our body. It is because of them that we can text with our friends and share our happy moments in the form of images and videos. Backplanes are the building blocks for most modern devices. 

By providing the necessary connections and pathways, the backplane PCB ensures that these components can exchange information seamlessly. So, components like memory bits, plug-in devices, and computer cards are all connected by the backplane devices. 

Types of backplanes

The most common two types of backplanes are explained below with their characteristics.

Active backplanes

These backplanes help in integrating active components like processors, controllers, or routing systems. The main purpose of these components is to let the backplane actively process, manage, and manipulate data passing through it.

Characteristics of active backplanes

  • They use processors, controllers, or special circuits to manage data, change how it's sent, and even add cool things like extra security or backup systems.
  • Active backplanes have tools to make signals stronger, reduce noise, and fix mistakes. They make sure the data stays clear, even if it travels a long way. 
  • Active backplanes are fancier and more complex. They're packed with smart parts that can do a lot, but because they're more advanced, making them can be trickier and cost more.
  • Because active backplanes have active parts that use power, they might get warmer when they're working. 

Passive backplanes

They have no internal computing power and function as a basic connecting system. They don't actively manage or process the data that passes through them; instead, they offer the physical connections and paths needed for data transfer between modules or cards inside a system.

Features of inactive backplanes

  • To facilitate part connections, signal sharing, and power-sharing , they are composed of connectors, pathways, and traces. They do not, however, alter or analyze the data, in contrast to active ones.
  • There are no special tools on passive backplanes to correct signals. 
  • This means the signals might get a bit fuzzy or weaker if they travel too far, as they don't have boosters or special circuits to keep them strong.
  • These backplanes are straightforward. They're not fancy and don't have smart parts inside. 
  • Because they don't have active parts like processors, passive backplanes don't make much heat when they're working. 
Globalwell Backplane PCB 1

Types of Backplane Buses

Backplanes, both active and passive, can have bridges that act like connectors, linking two buses of the same type or different types together within industrial systems.

  • Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) - Handles 16-bit data at 8 MHz clock speed for I/O devices.
  • Extended ISA (EISA) - Enhanced version of ISA, capable of 32-bit data transfers.
  • Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) - A local bus system in high-end computers that transfers 32 or 64 bits of data at 33 MHz clock speed.
  • Compact PCI (cPCI) - Uses the electrical standards of the PCI bus but is packaged in a Versa Module Eurocard (VME) bus, combining their features.
  • VME Bus (VMEbus) - A rugged 32-bit device used widely in industrial, commercial, and military applications.

Different bus types are like tools in a toolbox, each with its own strengths for industrial systems. They differ in how much data they can move, how tough they are, and where they work best.

Now, these buses can team up, thanks to bridges. These bridges help them talk to each other, making them a great team for all sorts of jobs in industries. This teamwork makes them fit for different tasks and work well together, making things easier for various industrial uses.

Material used in making backplane PCBs

The stuff used to make backplane PCBs is picked because it has special qualities that work well for sending signals fast, making sure things are reliable, and managing heat. Here are the important materials:

Substrate material

FR-4: It's a common and wallet-friendly material that's strong and keeps things insulated. People use it a lot in regular backplanes.

High-speed laminates (e.g., Rogers, Isola): These are fancy materials. They help signals move faster by reducing how much they get lost. That's super important for speedy data.

Copper foils

Standard copper foil: This one's good at conducting electricity and can bend easily. It's usually inside the backplane.

Heavy copper foil: It's thicker and handles more electricity. They use it in places that need lots of power or to keep things cool.

Prenatal resources

Epoxy-based prepreg: Ensures that the layers adhere firmly and remain intact by adhering them together. Solder masks are a kind of protective coating that are applied on copper to prevent rust and to facilitate soldering.

Finished surface

ENIG, HASL, and OSP: coatings improve the solderability of copper surfaces and guard against rust deterioration.

Materials for thermal management

Substrates with thermal conductivity: Assist in maintaining the backplane's temperature.

Thermal Pads/Vias: Under hot components to prevent overheating, they function similarly to coolers.

Globalwell Backplane PCB

Backplane architecture: building the foundation

For your benefit, the backplane structure covers all the details about physical layout, connectivity, signaling methods, and overall design. 

Connection layout

First up, you have to know the flow of the data and understand how each element communicates with each other. Collect information about how much data each part shares and which connection works best for them, like ethernet or PCIe. 

Picking the right connectors

Then, it's time to choose the connectors. Find out whether they should stick out or fit straight in. Plus, the way the connectors are put on—whether they're pushed in, soldered, or a squishy elastomer type.

Planning the slots

Then, decide how many slots are needed for all these parts to fit in comfortably. Make sure they're not too cramped for space and can breathe easily for cooling.

Physical layout

There are different standards like ATCA or cPCI, and you'll decide where things like power connectors and card guides go.

Electrical design

First, you have to work through power distribution. You are looking into how the power flows from the system to each little part. Thick power pathways and lots of tiny capacitors will make sure everything gets clean power.

Layers of backplane

The backplane is like a sandwich with many layers. Keep these layers consistent with the right materials and thickness to control how signals travel.


When it comes to the important data and clock lines, make sure they're close to their reference planes. Matching widths and spaces keep things smooth for the signals.

Place components

Keep the resistors, capacitors, etc., close enough to the connectors. Make sure to position the drivers and active elements in the right places. 

Noise cancellation

Use gaskets and filters to keep the electrical noise down, and this way, the signal will also stay clear & clean.

Mechanical design

There are guides and proper slots for card insertion. You can add stiffeners so that the circuit board doesn't flex under the weight of the card. Always use strong connectors to secure the elements properly.

Keeping cool and sturdy

Make sure the airflow is good for cooling. You can use special materials to move the heat away. Add support for hot parts and make sure the whole thing can take a bit of a shake without falling apart.

PCB specifications for the backplane

Here's a closer look at their specifications:

Number of layers

This merely indicates the number of layers that are arranged inside the backplane. The more advanced ones have multiple layers to manage all the connections and ensure proper operation.

Kind of substance

It relates to the backplane's composition, such as the use of conventional materials like FR-4 or particular high-speed materials. These materials were chosen for their strength, heat resistance, and signal transmission  capabilities.

Copper's weight and thickness

This explains the copper-layered structure's weight and thickness. Sometimes thicker copper is utilized to enhance power or heat control.

Trace breadth and distance

This concerns the width and inter-wire spacing of the cables. Because it influences how well the signals travel and maintain their strength, spacing is significant.

Control of impedance

Control of impedance is necessary to keep the amount of signal in the wires steady so it doesn't change a lot. This helps the signals stay strong and steady.

Finished surface

It's like putting a layer over metal parts to stop them from rusting or to make it harder to solder them together.

Size of annular ring & drill

If you wish to organize the elements on the backplane board then make sure to check the size of the holes and the space around them.

Standards & tolerances

Following certain rules make  sure the backplane works well and you can trust it.

Dimensions & form factor

It's just about how big and what shape the backplane is. It might follow some regular shapes or be unique for specific jobs.

Thermal management considerations

This is about handling the heat the backplane makes. You can design them in such a way so that they stay cool.

Parameters of signal integrity

It's important that the signals moving through the backplane stay strong. They check things like how the signals act, especially when they’re zipping around fast.

Advantages of PCB backplanes

Here are a few of the benefits examined in further detail: 

Simple updates

You don't have to start from scratch to add or replace components. This contributes to the gradual improvement of your system.

Combine and contrast

Parts from several brands that can function well together. It's similar to receiving many brands of compatible construction bricks.

Fixing made easy

If something goes wrong, it won't be too difficult to replace the damaged portion. This results in a shorter downtime for a malfunctioning system and lower repair costs.

Conserves space

Think of it as a puzzle where you fit a lot of pieces on a single large board. It's excellent for conserving space, particularly if you're short on room.

No problems with the signal

They're designed to keep signals clear and strong. This helps in making sure data travels smoothly without any problems.

Disadvantages of backplane PCBs

Some of the disadvantages are:

Hard to make

Making backplanes is tough and costly because they need exact wiring and lots of layers in the board. This can take a lot of time and money.

Signals get tired

When the paths for data are long in backplanes, the signals might get weaker, especially at high speeds. This can cause problems like losing data bits or having noisy signals, which gets tougher to fix as speeds increase.

Heat troubles

Because backplanes have lots of parts close together, they can get pretty hot. Managing this heat is important to keep everything working smoothly and prevent parts from wearing out too soon.

Limits on upgrades

Even though they're expandable, sometimes you can't add specific parts because there's no space or the connections won't work. This might mean having to swap out the whole backplane just to upgrade one piece.

All eggs in one basket

If something goes wrong with the backplane, the whole system might go down. It's like if the main switch in your house breaks, all the lights and devices connected to it stop working. So, making sure it's super reliable is crucial.

It’s time to wrap it up!

The hidden hero, the backplane PCB, might not grab attention, but it's crucial in today's tech world. It's come a long way from basic wiring to becoming super-fast data roads inside devices. As we keep asking for better tech, these backplane PCBs stay super important, shaping how our gadgets work now and in the future.

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