How Can You Select High-Speed Backplane Connectors?

High-speed backplane connectors are featured in a wide range of equipment, but are particularly important in networking equipment furnished with daughterboard modules. Daughterboard modules are circuit boards that plug into and extend the circuitry of another circuit board. Due to the sensitivity of such apparatuses, you must choose the right connector to maintain signal integrity when your system is deployed.

In terms of high-speed backplane connector selection, there are a variety of form factors, connection counts, and signal integrity graphs in data sheets that one must consider. For instance, with high-speed networking and computing interfaces, it is critical to look at signal integrity data. To make picking a high-speed backplane connector simple, we will outline how to interpret the aforementioned data to narrow down your options.

Insertion Loss

High-speed backplane connector datasheets will feature signal integrity metrics utilizing insertion loss at a specific frequency, alongside a corresponding return loss graph. Insertion loss should, in an ideal scenario, only be a couple dB out to the rated bandwidth. VSWR or S-parameters may also be present.


These connectors are designed to provide matching to a specific impedance out to the rated bandwidth. As such, many products are specifically marketed for particular signaling standards, rather than being standard across the board.

Induced Differential Crosstalk Noise

This is usually quoted as some percentage of the aggressor signal’s voltage level for a specified rise time. It is important to note that short rise times will generate more different crosstalk, which on the victim pair can be displayed as a spectrum in some data sheets.

Mounting Style

While a majority of high-speed backplane connectors take advantage of through-hole mounting, sine surface-mount options are also available.

Durability Rating

This refers to the number of plug/unplug cycles the connector is rated to handle. Most high-speed backplane connectors are rated for 200 cycles.

Pin Arrangement 

High-speed backplane connectors will embed ground connections between signal pairs to suppress differential crosstalk during operation. If you need extra shielding between differential pairs, you can ground some pin pairs as necessary.

Wrapping Up

It is worth noting that not all connectors are interchangeable. In fact, connector manufacturers have designed their connectors to mate with specific connectors that they sell, providing you some flexibility in how you can arrange your boards. With regard to differential crosstalk, you will need to observe how crosstalk is assessed and how data is reported in data sheets. The goal is to always try to limit differential crosstalk, both in the connector and on the board.

For different types of connectors, such as edge connectors, backplane connectors, and many others, rely on Aerospace Orbit, an online distributor of electronics parts. With over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find options, customers can fulfill all their operational requirements with ease. Backed by rapid lead times and unbeatable cost savings on thousands of products, we ensure that you get what you need so you can continue doing what you do best.

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