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HDI PCB Types and Stack-up

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Plating Gold 10 Layer HDI PCB

HDI (High-Density Interconnect) PCBs have revolutionized the electronics industry by enabling miniaturization and increased functionality in electronic devices. These advanced PCBs offer higher interconnect density, improved signal integrity, and enhanced reliability. One critical aspect of HDI PCB design is the stackup configuration, which determines the arrangement and composition of the different layers within the PCB. In this article, we will explore the various types of HDI PCBs and delve into the considerations involved in their stackup design.

Importance of Stack up in HDI PCBs

The stack-up configuration is of paramount importance in the design and fabrication of HDI PCBs. It refers to the arrangement and composition of the various layers within the PCB, including signal, power, and ground planes. The stack-up directly influences the electrical performance, signal integrity, power distribution, and manufacturability of the HDI PCB. Here are some key reasons highlighting the significance of stack-up in HDI PCBs:

1. Signal Integrity: The stack-up plays a crucial role in ensuring proper signal integrity. By carefully designing the layer stack, designers can control impedance, reduce crosstalk, and minimize signal distortion. The proper arrangement of signal and ground planes in the stack-up helps in achieving controlled impedance, which is vital for high-speed data transmission and signal integrity.

2. Power Distribution: HDI PCBs often incorporate advanced and complex electronic components that require stable and efficient power distribution. The stack-up design enables the allocation of dedicated power and ground planes, allowing for effective power delivery and reducing noise and interference. Strategic placement of power and ground planes helps in minimizing voltage drop and ensures adequate power supply to various components.

3. EMI/EMC Considerations: With the increasing complexity and density of electronic devices, electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) have become critical concerns. The stack-up design can include dedicated ground planes and shielding layers to mitigate EMI/EMC issues. Proper isolation and shielding can help reduce the coupling of electromagnetic radiation and improve the overall performance and reliability of the HDI PCB.

4. Thermal Management: HDI PCBs often generate significant heat due to the compact design and high-density components. The stack-up configuration can include thermal management techniques such as thermal vias, thermal planes, and heat sinks to efficiently dissipate heat and maintain optimal operating temperatures. Effective thermal management ensures the reliability and longevity of electronic components.

5. Manufacturing Considerations: The stack-up design should also take into account manufacturing constraints and requirements. It should consider the capabilities and limitations of the fabrication processes involved in HDI PCB manufacturing, such as sequential lamination, laser drilling, and plating. A well-optimized stack-up design ensures manufacturability, ease of assembly, and cost-effectiveness.

Overall, the stack-up configuration in HDI PCBs is critical for achieving optimal electrical performance, signal integrity, power distribution, EMI/EMC compliance, thermal management, and manufacturability. A carefully designed stack-up enables the successful integration of complex circuitry, enhances the reliability of the PCB, and ensures the efficient operation of modern electronic devices.

Types of HDI PCBs

In the realm of HDI PCBs, several distinct types exist, each possessing unique characteristics and applications. The following are the most prevalent types:

Type 1: Microvias

These vias feature diameters below 150 microns and are crafted using either laser drilling or mechanical drilling techniques. Their purpose lies in facilitating high-density interconnections and signal routing within the PCB.

Type 2: Blind Vias

Blind vias, unlike their counterparts, do not traverse the entire thickness of the PCB. Instead, they establish connections between different layers without being exposed on the surface. Such vias find utility in accommodating buried components and enabling signal routing.

Type 3: Buried Vias

Buried vias remain concealed within the inner layers of the PCB, absent on any surface. They serve the purpose of facilitating high-density interconnections and signal routing within intricate multilayer PCBs.

Type 4: Sequential Lamination

This fabrication process entails the lamination of multiple layers of copper foil and prepreg. Its outcome is the creation of sophisticated multilayer structures characterized by a high density of interconnects. Sequential lamination finds particular application in high-performance domains like telecommunications and data processing.

Type 5: Build-Up

The build-up process involves incrementally constructing the PCB layer by layer. It enables the incorporation of blind and buried vias within the PCB, thereby facilitating high-density interconnections and signal routing within complex multilayer structures.

The selection of the appropriate type of HDI PCB depends on the specific requirements of the application at hand, such as the number of interconnections, signal speeds, and spatial constraints. By carefully considering these factors, designers can choose the most suitable HDI PCB type to meet the desired objectives.

Common Stack up Configurations for HDI PCBs

There are several common stack-up configurations used in HDI (High-Density Interconnect) PCBs, depending on the specific design requirements and manufacturing capabilities.

1. 4-Layer Stack-up:

●Top Layer: Signal traces and components
●Layer 2: Ground plane
●Layer 3: Power plane
●Bottom Layer: Signal traces and components

This stack-up configuration is suitable for simple HDI PCB designs with moderate complexity and lower layer count.

2. 6-Layer Stack-up:

●Top Layer: Signal traces and components
●Layer 2: Ground plane
●Layer 3: Signal traces and components
●Layer 4: Ground plane
●Layer 5: Power plane
●Bottom Layer: Signal traces and components

The 6-layer stack-up provides additional flexibility for routing high-speed signals and separates power and ground planes for improved signal integrity.

3. 8-Layer Stack-up:

●Top Layer: Signal traces and components
●Layer 2: Ground plane
●Layer 3: Signal traces and components
●Layer 4: Ground plane
●Layer 5: Signal traces and components
●Layer 6: Ground plane
●Layer 7: Power plane
●Bottom Layer: Signal traces and components

The 8-layer stack-up offers even greater routing flexibility and allows for more complex designs with higher density and improved signal integrity.

4. 10-Layer Stack-up:

●Top Layer: Signal traces and components
●Layer 2: Ground plane
●Layer 3: Signal traces and components
●Layer 4: Ground plane
●Layer 5: Signal traces and components
●Layer 6: Ground plane
●Layer 7: Signal traces and components
●Layer 8: Ground plane
●Layer 9: Power plane
●Bottom Layer: Signal traces and components

The 10-layer stack-up is suitable for highly complex HDI PCBs with stringent signal integrity requirements and high-density interconnections.

These are just a few examples of common stack-up configurations for HDI PCBs. The actual stack-up will depend on the specific design requirements, such as the number of signal layers, power distribution needs, impedance control, and manufacturing capabilities. It’s crucial to work closely with a PCB designer and fabricator to determine the most suitable stack-up configuration for your specific application.

Factors to Consider in HDI PCB Stack up

When designing and fabricating HDI (High-Density Interconnect) PCBs, meticulous attention should be paid to the stack-up configuration, which encompasses the arrangement and composition of the various layers within the PCB. Several key factors must be carefully considered:

1. Material Selection:

Careful consideration should be given to selecting appropriate core materials, such as FR-4, polyimide, or metal-backed substrates, which provide structural support to the PCB. The choice of prepreg, a resin-coated copper foil used to bond the layers, also impacts the electrical and thermal properties of the PCB.

2. Layer Count and Thickness:

Determining the number of layers in an HDI PCB depends on the complexity of the design. More layers allow for higher interconnect density, but cost and fabrication complexity increase accordingly. The thickness of each layer is determined based on the required signal integrity and power handling capabilities.

3. Aperture Size and Vias:

The aperture size, referring to the diameter of vias, is a crucial consideration. Smaller vias enable higher interconnect density but can pose challenges and increase fabrication costs. The type of vias employed, such as microvias, blind vias, or buried vias, depends on design requirements and manufacturing capabilities.

4. Interconnect Technology:

Selecting the appropriate interconnect technology is vital to connect the layers of the PCB effectively. Options include plated through holes (PTHs), microvias, and controlled impedance traces. The choice of interconnect technology significantly impacts the electrical performance and overall reliability of the PCB.

5. Impedance Control:

Maintaining impedance control is crucial for high-speed digital applications. The stack-up design should ensure the desired impedance is consistently maintained throughout the signal path. This involves careful management of trace width, spacing, and the selection of appropriate dielectric materials.

Paying careful attention to these factors within the HDI PCB stack-up configuration is essential to achieve optimal performance, reliability, and manufacturability. By making informed decisions and collaborating closely with PCB fabricators, designers can create HDI PCBs that meet the specific requirements of their applications.

How to Layout the HDI PCB Stack Ups Step by Step?

Here is a step-by-step guide to laying out HDI PCB stackups:

1. Define the Design Requirements:

Begin by clearly defining the design requirements, including the number of layers, desired signal speeds, and any special considerations such as impedance control or high power handling.

2. Choose the Core and Prepreg Materials:

Select appropriate core materials, such as FR-4, polyimide, or metal-backed substrates, based on the design requirements and the capabilities of the fabrication process. Likewise, choose the prepreg material that best suits the electrical and thermal properties required for the PCB.

3. Determine the Layer Stackup:

Based on the design requirements, determine the number of signal layers, power layers, and ground layers needed. Arrange the layers in a logical order to optimize signal routing and minimize crosstalk. Consider the placement of high-speed signal layers closer to ground planes for better signal integrity.

4. Define the Via Types and Locations:

Identify the specific types of vias required for the design, such as microvias, blind vias, or buried vias. Strategically place the vias to minimize signal loss and maintain impedance control. Consider symmetry and balance in via placement for improved signal integrity.

5. Design the Signal Traces:

Route the signal traces on the appropriate layers while considering signal integrity and crosstalk. Utilize controlled impedance traces when necessary for high-speed signals. Maintain appropriate spacing between traces to minimize crosstalk and ensure impedance control.

6. Add Power and Ground Planes:

Incorporate power and ground planes to provide a stable voltage reference and reduce noise. Connect the power and ground planes to the appropriate vias and traces, ensuring sufficient capacitance for power distribution and effective return paths for signal currents.

7. Optimize the Stackup for Impedance Control:

Calculate the characteristic impedance of the signal traces based on the stackup geometry, trace width, spacing, and dielectric materials. Adjust these parameters as needed to achieve the desired impedance control. Utilize simulation tools or impedance calculators for accurate calculations.

8. Review and Verify the Stackup:

Thoroughly review the stackup to ensure it meets all the design requirements, taking into account signal integrity, power distribution, and impedance control. Use simulation tools or consult with experts to verify signal performance and impedance compliance.

9. Finalize the Stackup and Generate Fabrication Files:

Once the stackup is finalized and verified, generate the necessary fabrication files, such as Gerber files, for manufacturing. Ensure that all layers, vias, and traces are accurately represented in the fabrication files.

Additional Tips:

●Utilize design software with HDI-specific capabilities to simplify the stackup design process.
●Seek guidance from a reliable PCB fabrication house to understand achievable stackups and any specific fabrication limitations.
●Leverage impedance calculators and simulation tools to optimize the stackup for signal integrity and impedance control.
●Maintain sufficient spacing between signal traces and vias to minimize crosstalk and maintain impedance control.

By following this step-by-step guide and considering these additional tips, you can design an optimized HDI PCB stackup that meets the desired electrical performance, signal integrity, power distribution, and impedance control requirements.


HDI PCBs offer tremendous advantages in terms of miniaturization, signal integrity, and high-density interconnections. The stack-up configuration plays a vital role in optimizing these benefits. By selecting the appropriate HDI PCB type and tailoring the stack-up to meet specific design requirements, designers can achieve high-performance, reliable, and cost-effective PCB solutions. Whether it is a 4-layer, 6-layer, 8-layer, or 10-layer stack-up, careful consideration should be given to material selection, via types and locations, impedance control, and power distribution. Collaboration with experienced PCB fabricators (JarnisTech) and utilizing advanced design tools will further enhance the success of HDI PCB projects. With the continuous advancements in HDI technology, the future holds even greater possibilities for miniaturization and high-density integration in the world of PCB design.

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