The 2013 DesignVision winners announced at DesignCon

EDN Staff -January 29, 2013

In October of 2012, after years of innovation in connector technology, TE introduced STRADA Whisper, a backplane connector that it believes ‘breaks the barriers of noise’ and transfers data signals at speeds of 25- to 40-Gbps and beyond, thus enabling the next wave of high-performing, high-bandwidth systems. TE is convinced STRADA will be located at the very core of every data center. We tend to agree with them.

The connector empowers data-center equipment designers to think more freely about their designs, or in technical terms, increase their design margin [budget]. But the big question on everyone’s mind regarding the STRADA Whisper connector’s performance can be briefly explained through this one question: Can legacy backplanes drive 25 Gbps or do you need a premium channel?

A common solution is to make use of legacy backplanes designed for 10 Gbps performance by employing PAM-4 signaling at 12.5 Gbps. Engineering designs taking this path are susceptible to channel reflections and crosstalk requiring higher complexity equalization. The STRADA Whisper employs NRZ signalling to achieve 25 Gbps backplane operation. Also, its connector channel performance (minimal reflections) and exceptionally low crosstalk levels simplifies connector pin-out assignments. Moreover, the STRADA Whisper connector’s performance provides a clear path for even high backplane performance unlikely to be achieved with legacy components.

There are many other features that merit the Award, including a cabled backplane version that allows you to replace entire PCB boards with a simple cable and potentially increase system airflow, an emphasis on extremely low noise, low insertion loss and little-to-no skew.

Mechanically, the connector family mirrors most high-speed backplane connectors in the market for easy implementation. It differentiates itself through folded signal pins surrounded by strong, protective C-shaped shields, which make the product family one of the most robust offerings in the market. Additionally, the connector footprint keeps crosstalk down and the overall connector design uses the latest eye-of-needle (EON) technology.

The Whisper comes in three versions: standard, orthogonal (for midplane structures), and a cabled version that allows users to run longer distances with lower insertion loss than PCB materials. Specific versions are available for 100-Ohm and 85-Ohm applications.

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