Updated: November 16th, 2018

Cabled interconnects could help system designers configure their architectures to achieve greater flexibility, performance, and cost savings.

By Lucas Benson, Senior Business Development Manager and Manager of Global Product Management, TE Connectivity

Global data consumption is driving faster silicon I/O speeds, from PCIe Gen 3 (8Gb/s) and Gen 4 (16Gb/s) to PCIe Gen 5 (32Gb/s).  Similarly, Ethernet I/O speeds have moved from 10Gb/s to 56Gb/s and are looking forward to 112Gb/s. Printed circuit board (PCB) technologies have improved to support high speed data transport but can constrain the end-to-end channel performance. Current PCB technologies have limited signal integrity (SI) performance (mainly due to insertion loss) which limits the reach of a clean data signal. Cabled interconnects offer a lower-loss solution to PCB routing due to their increased channel reach and cable flexibility — cables can be routed virtually anywhere in the design — to other PCBs, outside of the path of airflow, etc.

In this article we’ll look at common design challenges related to PCBs and cabled interconnects, discuss the advantages of cabled interconnects, and outline some design considerations.

Design Challenges and Cabled Interconnect Advantages

The three main attributes system designers require when designing internal circuits in next-generation equipment are design flexibility, high performance, and low cost.  As connector and silicon speeds have moved into multi-dozen gigabit ranges, designers are