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Passion for Innovation – an Interview with Samtec’s Keith Guetig

Passion for Innovation – an Interview with Samtec’s Keith Guetig
by Mike Gianfagna on 03-03-2022 at 6:00 am

Keith Guetig

There’s a lot to be said for staying power. I’ve met many people in my career who simply resonate with a company – their products, culture, and direction. People like this build an organic knowledge of the company’s products and its customers. They contribute to a culture that helps enable great companies. Keith Guetig is one such person at Samtec. He joined the company 26 years ago as an engineer, and today he directs the new product roadmap. I had the opportunity to interview Keith recently about his journey at Samtec. Read on to learn what a passion for innovation can accomplish.

What drew you to Samtec? 

Samtec has a service-driven culture combined with a passion for innovation and new technology.  These are desirable attributes for a young engineer looking to kick off a career.

How long have you been there, and how has the journey been so far?

I began working at Samtec as an engineering co-op in my fall semester of 1995.  Therefore, I’m homegrown.  I’ve now been with Samtec for 26 years.  My career has included three phases.  I began in manufacturing engineering. This portion of my career included automation design, which I found fascinating.  My second phase was technical application engineering for our newest, most advanced products.  Both hands-on and directing a growing team.  And today it’s Product Management leadership.  Our future growth is dependent on correctly setting the new product directional compass today.

With regard to high-performance cables, what are the trends between traditional and optical technologies?

The trend isn’t pointing toward a “winner” between Copper and Optics High Performance Cables. The trend is more of both.  And the applications and industries that drive the demand – AI/ML, Data Center, ASIC evaluation and development, Automotive and Transportation, Embedded Computing, etc. – are growing and diversifying, which is a good thing.

Do certain applications drive one type of technology vs. the other?

The easy answer here is the required reach of the channel (advantage fiber for long reach).  But others include size and flexibility within a bundle (advantage: optical fiber), thermals (advantage: copper), and cost (advantage: copper, usually).

Over the past decade, we’ve seen explosive growth in design complexity at the chip level. Have you seen similar trends for high performance channels?

Certainly yes.  A second order effect of this is the challenge of signal loss routing away from the chip package.  This challenge creates an inflection point in our market: The utilization of inside the rack high-speed ultra-low skew twinax copper cable assemblies like Samtec Flyover systems, passing traffic that previously was handled in the PCB.  This enables a full rethink of legacy architectures; this is the story.

What types of requirements have seen the most demand for improvement?

As signal integrity challenges increase for chip package substrate and PCB, it translates to less allowable performance margins for connectors and cable.  There’s also a growing demand for one hundred percent signal integrity characterization for finished products, right on the line, not in the lab. This is a big challenge in the connectivity industry, albeit we already have this capability at Samtec thanks to forward planning many years ago.

Simulation models for channel components seem quite important. What is Samtec’s view of this?

We utilize Ansys HFSS for all our new product development; the correlation with measured signal integrity performance is highly impressive.  The bottom line is this: We can iterate a connector/cable design 100+ times before we ever tool anything up.  Therefore, we precisely tune the design to exactly meet the target performance attributes.  Our customers love this.

Looking out five years, what will be the most impactful new design requirements that Samtec will address?

It’s a bundle of applications, requirements and solutions that overlap.  Some of these include:

  • Connectivity interfacing directly to the chip package
  • Advancements in low loss and phase stability cable plus material advancements that further mitigate crosstalk, all enabling 224G and beyond
  • Flexible mmWave Waveguides
  • Improved board-to-board power density
  • Backplane transition to CablePlane

That’s a short story of what a passion for innovation means at Samtec. You can learn more about this unique company at https://www.samtec.com. You can also access insightful background on how Samtec helps semiconductor and system design here.

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