Backplane Connectors: What They Are and How to Choose the Right One for Your Needs

Share and Comment

Backplane connectors are designed to decrease signal rise while increasing data rates. It delivers more dependable high-speed transmissions with enhanced clarity.

Although these components are used in various devices, they’re most often found in networking equipment with integrated daughterboard modules. Selecting the right connectors for your needs will result in a significant difference in signal integrity.

When you’re searching for high-speed backplane connectors, you’ll encounter various:

  • Signal integrity graphs in datasheets
  • Connection counts
  • Form factors

So, let’s take a closer look at what these components are and what you need to consider when investing in them.

What’s a Backplane Connector?

A backplane is a unique type of printed circuit board (PCB) housing a parallel connector set. It serves as a base structure for connecting several other PCBs, forming a complete computer system. These components increase mechanical stability and strength. Simultaneously, it acts as a medium for the integration of various system components, known as daughterboards.

As mentioned by the professionals at, a backplane is differentiated from a motherboard by the fact that it lacks on-board storage and processing elements.

What Do You Need to Consider When Choosing a Backplane Connector?

Some of the factors you need to consider when looking for a backplane are explained below.

Primary Requirements

Some of the critical factors to consider when selecting a backplane includes:

  • High-speed data rates (differential or single-ended)
  • Low-speed signals (single-ended)
  • Power
  • Physical size (length, height, depth)
  • Gross alignment or guidance requirements

System-Level Requirements

System-level requirements that may influence your choice of component include:

  • Available space
  • Aspect ratio limitations
  • PCB thickness
  • Power management
  • PCB routing limitations
  • Cooling potential

Component Design

Design engineers are consistently working toward meeting the demand for communications applications, which includes:

  • Enhanced port density
  • Bandwidth
  • Speed

To keep up, manufacturers started offering more innovative architectures. The idea behind it is to lower costs associated with intricate midplane designs and improve channel performance. These models include:

  • Right-angle-to-vertical. These solutions promote cross-connections between all system data points. It’s a common choice for device construction as they’re manufactured for use in industry-standard rack sizes.
  • Orthogonal midplanes. This design is unique as it eliminates the necessity for signal traces channeled through the midplane. It enhances signal integrity and lowers production costs. Its shorter channel lengths show less attenuation and reduced energy reflections resulting in lower crosstalk.
  • Coplanar or mezzanine devices. These components usually get used for core processing and memory expansion, backward compatibility, and I/O flexibility. It features the same electrical and mechanical properties as traditional backplanes. These resources include compliant pins, separable interfaces, power options, and guidance.

True Channel Performance

The entire mechanism dictates system-level performance, regardless of how much care gets put into enhancing a connector’s electrical parameters. This results in the need to quantify channel behavior and includes aspects such as:

  • PCB interface
  • Board traces
  • BGA attach
  • DC blocking caps

To Wrap Up

There’s a sizable number of backplanes available on the market. Yet not all the solutions are compatible with all systems. To ensure you choose the right component for your needs, you’ve got to consider the design and various primary and system-level requirements. Selecting the wrong device may result in it being incompatible or reducing the system’s performance.

Share and Comment