Electronics companies are seeing an increased use of embedded components in their PCB designs. Embedded components are fabricated into a printed circuit board and allowed on internal and surface layers. There are several factors driving the trend to use of embedded components over discrete components.

Increased functionality of active devices has the number of passive components growing. The number of discrete passive components is, in many cases 70 to 80% of the total part count and continues to rise as passive-to-active ratios grow. While active devices are being packaged into large pin Ball Grid Arrays (BGAs) the ideal surface placement space for discrete passive components becomes more difficult to obtain.

Also, increased numbers of capacitors are needed as device speeds and digital content increases. Capacitors must be placed close to the IC pin to avoid unacceptable noise or timing delays. Eliminating discrete passive components from the surface layers and embedding them, thus frees surface space and allows the passive devices to be closer to active pins.

Embedded passive components allow for higher frequency (faster) PCBs. The linearity of signals through embedded passive components reduces inductance of “core to surface, return to core” signal paths. Along with lower inductance, embedded passive components can lower power system impedance and radiated emissions – improving the overall electrical performance of a PCB. Also, reliability of the PCB is improved through reducing the overall number of solder joints.

For leading-edge companies, there is also the need for embedded active devices. While additional surface space is made available for other active devices, embedded active devices are not packaged, leading to smaller footprints for the active device. The driving factor to use embedded active devices is reduction in the PCB size format while increasing the active functions.

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