In our last build we had issues with DDR stability in our prototype, simply because of lack of experience with this type of high speed memory connections.
We managed to get it working with halving the CPU speed, and loosening the timings slightly, but for our next version, we are trying to make it work 100%.
We are working with 454MHz i.mx233 and 133MHz EMI bus.
In our first prototype we had several mistakes:
- Routed some of the data lines through 3 layers, and some from 2
- Did not match the trace lengths
- Our capacitor placement for memory power lines was not as close to the chip as possible.
This time we have fixed those mistakes, but would still like to hear some feedback from experienced designers.
We are very constrained with space (size) and layers (cost), so we did not have space for aesthetically beautiful bus design 😉
In our design tool it's impossible (to my knowledge) to color different layers differently when wires are "selected", so it looks messier (or difficult to read) than it is in reality. The AP and memory are both on top layer, processor being on the right.
So first of all, this time we have routed the clock (CLK, CLKN) lines as differentials, and they look like this:
Next, we have placed all the capacitors in the memory power lines as close to the chip as possible:
Our address lines are matched in length as much as was possible, and all go through 2 layers, so they have even number of VIAs in them:
And finally, our data lines are also matched in length as much as possible, and also these are routed on second layer for a moment (we had to route few lines through power plane instead of bottom, we just couldn't avoid this):
Our trace lengths are (
CS 18.8 CLNK 30.1 CLK 30.4 CKE 36.1 CASN 37.2 RASN 37.2 A0 37.2 A1 37.2 A2 27.2 A3 37.2 A4 36.2 A5 36.1 A6 36.2 A7 36.2 A8 36.2 A9 36.2 A10 37.2 A11 36.2 A12 36.2 D0 35.5 D1 35.6 D2 36.2 D3 36.2 D4 27.3 D5 36.2 D6 36.1 D7 36.2 D8 37.2 D9 36 D10 28 D11 36.1 D12 36.1 DQM0 36.1 DQM1 36.2 DQS0 35.6 DQS1 37.2 BA0 37.2 BA1 37.2 WEN 36.1
Indeed we are using 4-layer PCB with a separate power (some signaline here) and ground (no signal traces) planes. Previously we used seeedstudio's PCB service (Manufactoring specifications), and their default (cheapest) stack up is this:
Our trace width for EMI bus is
0,204mm, so if I calculated correctly the impedance, it would be over 60ohms in this case. Maybe trace width needs adjustment (thicker, somewhere around 0,3mm).
According to the Freescale's design guidelines, maximum trace length can be calculated from
0.3 x Rise/fall time x 15cm/ns (FR4 material). The memory we used looks to have slew rate of either 0.9 or 1ns, so in our case this formula would then produce: 0.3 x 1 x 15 = <4,5cm, so our trace lengths should be currently in spec.
After reading through the design guidelines several times and learning from our mistakes this is our current plan for next prototype run. We are grateful for any mistakes you might point out, or just any advice in general as well.. Thank you!
Edit 1 After some paint working, replaced the data and address line pictures with colored versions as suggested in the comments. Now it's much more clear what layers the traces go on – it didn't take that long once I got the hang of the masking, sorry I should have done it initially already.
Edit 2 Added PCB materials specification, and stack-up information. And some other additional information regarding the signal traces.