Knee frequency is the frequency at which the response deviates significantly from the flat or desired response in the context of a frequency response curve.
Simulation tools, frequency response measurements, and mathematical analysis techniques can be used to determine knee frequency.
Knee frequency is associated with the frequency response of high-speed signals traveling through transmission lines on a PCB.
Determining knee frequency aids in analyzing the behavior of high-speed signals on a PCB
The knee frequency is the frequency at which the response deviates significantly from the flat or desired response in the context of a frequency response curve. It is the frequency at which the magnitude or phase response curve transitions from one behavior to another, typically indicating the onset of roll-off or attenuation.
The knee frequency can vary depending on the circuit topology, component values, and design parameters. It is typically determined through simulation, analysis, or measurement of the frequency response of the system under consideration, such as a circuit or a filter.
Knee Frequency and PCB Design
In the context of PCB design, the knee frequency is typically associated with the frequency response of high-speed signals traveling through transmission lines on a PCB. It represents the point at which the response transitions from the dominant mode (lower frequencies) to higher-order modes or other behaviors (higher frequencies).
How Knee Frequency Impacts PCB Design
Signal Integrity Analysis
Determining knee frequency aids in analyzing and predicting the behavior of high-speed signals on the PCB.
Transmission Line Design
Knee frequency helps determine the appropriate trace dimensions, impedance matching, and termination techniques to minimize high-speed signal degradation on a PCB.
Frequency Domain Effects
Knee frequency assists in understanding the frequency-dependent effects, which are crucial considerations in PCB design.
Board Material Selection
Different PCB substrate materials have varying dielectric properties, which affect transmission line behavior and knee frequency.
Here's how knee frequency can affect PCB design:
Signal Integrity Analysis: Determining the knee frequency helps analyze and predict the behavior of high-speed signals on a PCB. It assists in identifying the point at which the signal starts to degrade, experience reflections, or encounter other signal integrity issues.
Transmission Line Design: High-speed signals on a PCB are typically routed as transmission lines to maintain signal integrity. The knee frequency assists in determining the appropriate trace dimensions, impedance matching, and termination techniques required to minimize signal degradation and ensure reliable signal transmission.
Frequency Domain Effects: PCBs can exhibit different characteristics at different frequencies due to parasitic elements, such as capacitance, inductance, and resistance. The knee frequency aids in understanding the frequency-dependent effects, such as crosstalk, attenuation, and impedance variations, which are crucial considerations in PCB design.
Board Material Selection: The choice of PCB substrate material can affect the knee frequency and overall signal integrity. Different materials have varying dielectric properties, such as dielectric constant and loss tangent, which impact the transmission line behavior and, consequently, the knee frequency.
How to Determine Knee Frequency
Here's a general approach to determining knee frequency:
Analyze or simulate the system's frequency response using appropriate tools or techniques, such as circuit analysis, simulation software, or mathematical models.
Plot the frequency response, showing the magnitude or phase response versus frequency. The response is usually plotted on a logarithmic scale to capture a wide frequency range effectively.
Observe the plot and identify the frequency at which the actual response starts to deviate significantly from the desired or flat response. This deviation may be indicated by a change in slope, a noticeable dip or rise in magnitude, or a sudden phase shift.
The frequency at which the deviation occurs is considered the knee frequency for the system under analysis.
The exact method for determining the knee frequency can vary depending on the system, circuit, or filter being analyzed. Simulation tools, frequency response measurements, or mathematical analysis techniques can be used, depending on the complexity and availability of resources.
Knee Frequency’s Role in Test and Measurement
In the context of test and measurement, the knee frequency is an important parameter that helps determine the bandwidth and frequency range for accurate and meaningful measurements.
When performing measurements on electronic systems, oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, and network analyzers are often used. These instruments have specific frequency ranges or bandwidths within which they can accurately measure and analyze signals.
The knee frequency helps determine the upper limit of the frequency range that needs to be considered during measurements. It indicates the frequency at which the behavior of the tested system starts to deviate significantly or where the measurement instrument's performance may degrade.
For example, when selecting an oscilloscope for high-frequency measurements, the instrument's bandwidth needs to be higher than the knee frequency of the system being tested. Otherwise, the measurements may suffer signal distortion or attenuation, leading to inaccurate results.
Similarly, when using a spectrum or network analyzer, the instrument's frequency range should cover the frequency span up to the knee frequency of the system or the range of interest to ensure accurate measurements and analysis.
By considering the knee frequency, test and measurement engineers can select appropriate instruments with the bandwidth or frequency range to capture and analyze the desired signals accurately.
Ensure Effective Propagation of High-Speed Signals in PCB Design
Knowing the knee frequency in PCB design helps ensure that high-speed signals propagate with minimal degradation and that the PCB meets the required signal integrity specifications. It assists in determining appropriate routing, termination, and material choices to optimize the performance of high-frequency signals on the PCB.
Leading electronics providers rely on Cadence products to optimize power, space, and energy needs for a wide variety of market applications. To learn more about our innovative solutions, talk to our team of experts or subscribe to our YouTube channel.