Receiver equalization increases link distance without adding EMI
Receiver equalization and transmitter preemphasis in a SERDES (serializer/deserializer) can increase link distances in backplane and linecard applications. Receiver equalization has many advantages, such as lower EMI and easier adaptive implementation, over transmitter preemphasis. However, the use of receiverequalization technology is less common than the use of preemphasis techniques. Most users are comfortable implementing transmitter preemphasis because they can directly observe the improvement on signal integrity after the link medium, or far end. Many system designers do not implement receiver equalization because it does not produce directly observable eyepattern results, and designers cannot directly observe the improvement and margin in their systems. A bit of theory and an application example of a frequencydomain receiver equalizer show why receiver equalization can improve signal integrity, demonstrate how to characterize it, and give you a feel for how much eye distortion this technique can tolerate from measured reallife data.
A SERDES is a common transceiver for pointtopoint highspeed connections. A serializer converts a lowspeed parallel data bus into a highspeed, serial data stream for transmission from point A to point B through the medium (Figure 1). A deserializer with a builtin CDR (clockanddatarecovery) unit then converts the highspeed serial data stream back to its original parallel format. Figure 1 hows a simplex configuration because each node uses only half of a SERDES. Most applications require duplex configuration, for which each node uses a full SERDES and performs both serialization (transmission) and deserialization (reception). The SERDES reduces the number of wires required to transfer data between two nodes, resulting in a simpler system implementation and longer driving distance.
SERDES/transceiver combinations are common in backplane and linecard applications. The transmission media are usually cables of different configurations or microstrip traces on a pc board. The transmission medium has a finite bandwidth, which defines the maximum distance between transmitter A and receiver B at a given data rate.
For most applications, mediatransmission characteristics are functions of frequency, and you can model them as follows:
(1)
where l is media length, f is frequency, and k_{s} and k_{d} are constants representing conductor and dielectric losses, respectively (Reference 1): At data rates lower than 3 Gbps, conductor loss dominates, so you can simplify Equation 1 to
(2)
Equation 2 has both real and imaginary terms, indicating that the highfrequency component of the signal has not only higher attenuation, but also higher phase shift than its lowfrequency counterpart. Both attenuation and phase shift are proportional to distance, l, and . Attenuation reduces the vertical eye opening at the receiving end. Phase shift at higher frequencies results in ISI (intersymbol interference), which introduces excessive timing jitter and ultimately limits the maximum transmission distance. For example, the eye opening of ideal 500mV, singleended peakpeak PRBS (pseudorandombinarysequence)7 data at 3.125 Gbps is completely closed after a 20m length of Belden (www.belden.com) 8262 coaxial cable (Figure 2). Because the ISI jitter is mostly outside the loop bandwidth of the deserializer's CDR unit, a SERDES cannot recover this eye without significant biterror rate.
In the sdomain, Equation 2 is
(3)
An amplifier with a transfer function that's the reciprocal of Equation 3 can correct the mediafrequency dependency. Ideally, this amplifier has the following transfer function, H(s):
(4)
You can implement this transfer function in a feedforward system with a variablegain, 10dB/decade amplifier (Reference 2, Figure 3. With proper adjustment of the boost factor of the amplifier, the transmission system comprising the media and the amplifier can be frequencyindependent. If you place this amplifier at the transmission point A of the link, the result is called preemphasis; if you place it at the receiving end, you call it receiver equalization. For example, the BBT3400 quad 3.125Gbps/channel transceiver (www.bitblitz.com) has receiver equalization with 16 programmable boost factors, followed by CDR (Figure 4).
Receiver equalization has advantages
Receiver equalization has certain advantages over preemphasis. For example, at high boost levels, electromagnetic interference is less significant than in preemphasis because the system doesn't boost a highfrequency signal at transmission. An adaptive system is easier to implement because you set the boost factor at the receiving end. However, although preemphasis produces a clear eye opening at receiving, the output of the equalizer is usually an internal node, and a special laboratory setup is necessary to characterize equalization performance.
For example, you can use the BBT3400based design of Figure 4 with the equalization set to high boost to recover a data eye with less than 10^{–12} biterror rate, but the received data eye provides no information about inputjittertolerance margin. Knowledge and the guarantee of enough inputjittertolerance margin are important for designing a robust system. You can measure the inputjittertolerance margin by phasemodulating the input data until the biterror rate reaches 10^{–12} (Figure 5). Figure 5's scheme loops back the BBT3400 serializer to its deserializer through a parallel interface. The biterrorrate tester, generates data patterns that travel through the transmission media, the BBT3400, and its error detector for biterror rate measurement. A phase modulator modulates the biterror rate clock source with a sinusoidal wave. If the modulation frequency is higher than the deserializer CDR unit's loop bandwidth, the maximum phase modulation is the inputjittertolerance margin. In the case of the BBT3400 receiving a 3.125Gbps PRBS7 pattern through 20m Belden cables, as much as a 0.5unitinterval highfrequency modulation is possible with a biterror rate of less than 10^{–12}. One unit interval equals 320 psec for 3.125Gbps NRZ data. The input data eye is more than completely closed (Figure 6). The phasemodulation measurement concludes that, with the help of receiver equalization, the BBT3400 can tolerate approximately one unit interval of input ISI jitter with a 0.5unitinterval margin at 10^{–12} biterror rate. In other words, the BBT3400 has a greaterthan0.5unitinterval margin in recovering data from Figure 4.
References 

System level design and integration challenges with multiple ADCs on single chip
Understanding the basics of setup and hold time
Product Howto: Digital isolators offer easytouse isolated USB option
Managing noise in the signal chain, Part 2: Noise and distortion in data converters
War of currents: Tesla vs Edison
Simple reversepolarityprotection circuit has no voltage drop
Control an LM317T with a PWM signal
Start with the right op amp when driving SAR ADCs