Electronic – PCB tracing – Ground plane and Power plane


Is it generally a bad idea, in simple or moderately heavy circuits, having two layers, to have a power plane in the top and a ground plane on the bottom?

The tracing would become much easier, there wont be virtually any noise, better heat dissipation and aesthetically the circuit would be layed out neatly.

Also, is there any handy guide to refer, when to use a thicker trace for different values of current?


Best Answer

Well, I suppose this is one of those topics where opinions may vary. Hower it's somewhat useful to hear opinions backed up by some kind of logic/argument. So here's one from http://www.ti.com/lit/ml/sloa089/sloa089.pdf

There has been a lot of confusion in the past over what is the optimum order for PCB layers. Take, for example, a 4-layer board consisting of two signal layers, a power plane, and a ground plane. Is it better to route the signal traces between the layers, thus providing shielding for the signal traces – or is it better to make the ground and power planes the two inner planes?

In considering this question, it is important to remember that no matter what is decided, there will still be signals exposed on one or both of the top and bottom planes. The leads of the op amp PCB package, and the traces on the board leading to nearby passive components and feed-throughs will be exposed. Therefore, any shielding effects are compromised. It is far better to take advantage of the distributed capacitance between the power and ground plane by making them internal.

Another advantage of placing the planes internally is that the signal traces are available for probing and modification on the top and bottom layers. Anyone who has had to change connections on buried traces will appreciate this feature.

For more than four layers, it is a general rule to shield higher speed signals between the ground and power planes, and route slower signals on the outer layers.

Hope this helps.