When You Look to Replace Connectors, Look Deep Inside

Guest Blog Post
David Pheteplace, Senior VP, Bishop & Associates

We all know the pains of using external connectors – wear and tear, interference with wireless signals, holes in the side of our otherwise sleek products. But when it comes to replacing standard electronic connectors, there is huge opportunity beneath the surface of our devices.

Open up your cell phone or tablet and you will find a number of flex cables – cables that connect the various internal components of the device and pass data to and from one component to another. Every phone has a flex cable that connects the main board to the display, and another that connects the main board to the camera, just to name a couple of examples.

But these cables come at a cost. With data rates rising, these flex cables can be transmission bottle necks,  prone to causing failures, significant EMI/RFI radiators, and, did I mention, expensive? Flex cables are not keeping pace with bandwidth demands. It should come as no surprise. Signal integrity design for systems using flex cables at rates above 2Gbps are exceedingly difficult. And as we move towards a USB SuperSpeed world of 5Gbps, system designers are finding flex cables woefully inadequate.

As bandwidth increases, the size of these devices decreases, making it even more challenging to mount metal connectors on internal boards. Manufacturers have identified this as a potential failure point in mechanical designs. And like any other metal connector, higher data rates result in much higher EMI and RFI – the major causes of signal interference.

But even more importantly, there’s that issue of cost. Manufacturing advances have led to almost complete automation in the assembly of many of these products. Note that I say “almost,” because one of the few areas where human labor is still required is in the manual connecting of flex cables. Eliminate the manual connection and you have eliminated a major cost and reliability issue within the production process.

The use of Keyssa’s Kiss Connectivity to replace flex cables in electronic devices that have high speed bandwidth requirements is truly innovative and exciting. Imagine how the internal components can be designed to stack on top of each other and directly connect via EHF waves rather than through traditional cable technology.

And Keyssa can replace the external I/O port, too! The end user will be excited when the unsightly holes (that fill with lint) disappear from the outside of their devices. The manufacturers will be even more excited to see their production process streamlined and their quality improved.

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