Maintaining signal integrity has become increasingly difficult as data rates moves past 28Gbps to 56Gbps and beyond. Up to 28Gbps rates, NRZ is the preferred and standardized encoding scheme which consists of 1’s and 0’s. NRZ is also referred to as PAM2 (pulse amplitude modulation, 2-level), due to its two amplitude levels which contain 1 bit of information in every symbol. With serial data rates hitting 56 Gb/s per channel, signal impairments caused by increased bandwidth has prompted the high-speed serial data industry to adopt PAM4, or 4-level pulse amplitude modulation. For PAM4 signals, the baud rate equals one-half the bit rate and the Nyquist frequency equals one-fourth the bit rate. Compared to PAM2/NRZ, PAM4 cuts the bandwidth for a given data rate in half by transmitting two bits in each symbol. This allows engineers to double the bit rate in the channel without doubling the required bandwidth.
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