Electrical – Decoupling cap on backside: Create separate via


There are already many questions about proper placement of decoupling caps in different situations (multiple layers, different sides etc).

As a general rule of thumb (e.g. How to place decoupling capacitor in four-layer PCB?), it is frequently recommended to directly connect the decoupling caps between the IC pins and from there a via to power/ground plane. The reason is to ensure that the currents flow through the cap.

Based on this Decoupling cap: Closer to chip but with via or farther without via? and this How important is it to put decoupling caps on the same side of the PCB? question I have decided to to put my caps at the opposite side. Furthermore, I will have an 8 layer board with multiple ground planes/power planes.

In order to connect my decoupling caps I have a forest of vias from the VDD pin to the other side of the board. On the other side, I connect the caps between the ground paddle and the vias.

However, in order to follow the rule of thumb above, I should not connect the vias to the ground plane. Instead, use separate vias to connect the cap to the supply plane.

This seems quite wasteful and odd to me. To make the long question short:

When placing decoupling cap at the other side of the board, is it ok to connect the power/ground planes with the same vias that connect the cap and the chip or should they be separately connected?

In order to give a precice example, this shows front and back layout:


As can be seen, the 6 vias labeled Vdd1V2 also connect to the power plane Vdd1V2 directly. I do not have separate vias to connect the (then local) Vdd1v2 network on the back to the power plane.

Best Answer

I hate rules of thumb, I abolish them wherever I work. It's far better to understand why. With that said your goal in a good decoupling strategy should be to minimize the impedance across your frequencies of interest. This translates into wanting to minimize inductance which usually means reducing the loop area or reducing the impedance of the connecting traces/planes/vias. So you can create a nice low inductance path between your chip pins and that cap by placing them on the same layer and running wide traces to it.

Then you want a nice low inductance path to your power planes. One set of vias right at the cap seem like a nice idea. Two sets of vias would of course lower your inductance further since the inductance of each via would be in parallel with each other. (I often do Via in pad but I have the luxury of using those processes. You may too if you're already at an eight layer board).

So with that said and you being a designer who understands your system you can now make your own tradeoffs. In your structure above it looks to me like your loop area is unnecessarily long so I would look for ways to reduce it. But maybe you have other reasons for that so just keep in mind that you want to reduce the loop area and impedance between the caps, pins and the power planes.

If you want to know if what you've done is "good enough" or even more difficult optimal before you build it you will have to understand your dynamic current requirements and then do some level of simulation. Otherwise your options are really to try it, or over design it a bit to give yourself some margin.