What is Differential Signaling
Differential signaling is a method used in the PCB industry to transmit information electronically by utilizing two complementary electrical signals. This technique involves sending the same signal as a pair of signals, each using its own wire, typically in a twisted paired conductor. The two signals are completely complementary, with one carrying the signal and the other carrying the inverted signal.
Unlike single-ended signaling, which relies on a shared ground reference, differential signaling does not require a common ground between the sender and receiver. Instead, each signal in a differential signaling system requires two conductors. The receiver extracts the signal by detecting the difference between the inverted and non-inverted signals, utilizing this difference to determine the transmitted information.
Differential signaling offers several advantages over single-ended signaling. It provides improved noise immunity, reduced electromagnetic interference (EMI), and increased signal integrity. By utilizing two complementary signals, differential signaling cancels out common-mode noise, which affects both signals in the same way. This noise rejection capability makes differential signaling particularly effective in environments with high levels of electromagnetic interference.
To ensure optimal performance, careful PCB layout design is crucial when implementing differential signaling. The traces carrying the complementary signals should be routed close to each other to maintain signal integrity and minimize the effects of electromagnetic interference. Differential signaling is commonly employed in high-speed communication systems, such as those found in PCB designs for data transmission, Ethernet, USB, HDMI, and other interfaces.