Boundary scan is a method for testing interconnects (wire lines) on printed circuit boards or sub-blocks inside an integrated circuit. Boundary scan is also widely used as a debugging method to watch integrated circuit pin states, measure voltage, or analyze sub-blocks inside an integrated circuit.
A printed circuit board (PCB) mechanically supports and electrically connects electronic components or electrical components using conductive tracks, pads and other features etched from one or more sheet layers of copper laminated onto and/or between sheet layers of a non-conductive substrate. Components are generally soldered onto the PCB to both electrically connect and mechanically fasten them to it.
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is a set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece of semiconductor material that is normally silicon. The integration of large numbers of tiny transistors into a small chip results in circuits that are orders of magnitude smaller, cheaper, and faster than those constructed of discrete electronic components. The IC's mass production capability, reliability and building-block approach to circuit design has ensured the rapid adoption of standardized ICs in place of designs using discrete transistors. ICs are now used in virtually all electronic equipment and have revolutionized the world of electronics. Computers, mobile phones, and other digital home appliances are now inextricable parts of the structure of modern societies, made possible by the small size and low cost of ICs.
The Joint Test Action Group (JTAG) developed a specification for boundary scan testing that was standardized in 1990 as the IEEE Std. 1149.1-1990. In 1994, a supplement that contains a description of the Boundary Scan Description Language (BSDL) was added which describes the boundary-scan logic content of IEEE Std 1149.1 compliant devices. Since then, this standard has been adopted by electronic device companies all over the world. Boundary scan is now mostly synonymous with JTAG.
The boundary scan architecture provides a means to test interconnects (including clusters of logic, memories, etc.) without using physical test probes; this involves the addition of at least one test cell that is connected to each pin of the device and that can selectively override the functionality of that pin. Each test cell may be programmed via the JTAG scan chain to drive a signal onto a pin and thus across an individual trace on the board; the cell at the destination of the board trace can then be read, verifying that the board trace properly connects the two pins. If the trace is shorted to another signal or if the trace is open, the correct signal value does not show up at the destination pin, indicating a fault.
In electronics, a logic gate is an idealized or physical device implementing a Boolean function; that is, it performs a logical operation on one or more binary inputs and produces a single binary output. Depending on the context, the term may refer to an ideal logic gate, one that has for instance zero rise time and unlimited fan-out, or it may refer to a non-ideal physical device.
In computing, memory refers to the computer hardware integrated circuits that store information for immediate use in a computer; it is synonymous with the term "primary storage". Computer memory operates at a high speed, for example random-access memory (RAM), as a distinction from storage that provides slow-to-access information but offers higher capacities. If needed, contents of the computer memory can be transferred to secondary storage; a very common way of doing this is through a memory management technique called "virtual memory". An archaic synonym for memory is store.
A test probe is a physical device used to connect electronic test equipment to a device under test (DUT). Test probes range from very simple, robust devices to complex probes that are sophisticated, expensive, and fragile. Specific types include test prods, oscilloscope probes and current probes. A test probe is often supplied as a test lead, which includes the probe, cable and terminating connector.
To provide the boundary scan capability, IC vendors add additional logic to each of their devices, including scan cells for each of the external traces. These cells are then connected together to form the external boundary scan shift register (BSR), and combined with JTAG TAP (Test Access Port) controller support comprising four (or sometimes more) additional pins plus control circuitry.
JTAG is an industry standard for verifying designs and testing printed circuit boards after manufacture.
Some TAP controllers support scan chains between on-chip logical design blocks, with JTAG instructions which operate on those internal scan chains instead of the BSR. This can allow those integrated components to be tested as if they were separate chips on a board. On-chip debugging solutions are heavy users of such internal scan chains.
Scan chain is a technique used in design for testing. The objective is to make testing easier by providing a simple way to set and observe every flip-flop in an IC.The basic structure of scan include the following set of signals in order to control and observe the scan mechanism.
These designs are part of most Verilog or VHDL libraries. Overhead for this additional logic is minimal, and generally is well worth the price to enable efficient testing at the board level.
Verilog, standardized as IEEE 1364, is a hardware description language (HDL) used to model electronic systems. It is most commonly used in the design and verification of digital circuits at the register-transfer level of abstraction. It is also used in the verification of analog circuits and mixed-signal circuits, as well as in the design of genetic circuits. In 2009, the Verilog standard was merged into the SystemVerilog standard, creating IEEE Standard 1800-2009. Since then, Verilog is officially part of the SystemVerilog language. The current version is IEEE standard 1800-2017.
VHDL is a hardware description language used in electronic design automation to describe digital and mixed-signal systems such as field-programmable gate arrays and integrated circuits. VHDL can also be used as a general purpose parallel programming language.
For normal operation, the added boundary scan latch cells are set so that they have no effect on the circuit, and are therefore effectively invisible. However, when the circuit is set into a test mode, the latches enable a data stream to be shifted from one latch into the next. Once a complete data word has been shifted into the circuit under test, it can be latched into place so it drives external signals. Shifting the word also generally returns the input values from the signals configured as inputs.
As the cells can be used to force data into the board, they can set up test conditions. The relevant states can then be fed back into the test system by clocking the data word back so that it can be analyzed.
By adopting this technique, it is possible for a test system to gain test access to a board. As most of today’s boards are very densely populated with components and tracks, it is very difficult for test systems to physically access the relevant areas of the board to enable them to test the board. Boundary scan makes access possible without always needing physical probes.
In modern chip and board design, Design For Test is a significant issue, and one common design artifact is a set of boundary scan test vectors, possibly delivered in Serial Vector Format (SVF) or a similar interchange format.
Devices communicate to the world via a set of input and output pins. By themselves, these pins provide limited visibility into the workings of the device. However, devices that support boundary scan contain a shift-register cell for each signal pin of the device. These registers are connected in a dedicated path around the device's boundary (hence the name). The path creates a virtual access capability that circumvents the normal inputs and provides direct control of the device and detailed visibility at its outputs.The contents of the boundary scan are usually described by the manufacturer using a part-specific BSDL file.
Among other things, a BSDL file will describe each digital signal exposed through pin or ball (depending on the chip packaging) exposed in the boundary scan, as part of its definition of the Boundary Scan Register (BSR). A description for two balls might look like this:
"541 (bc_1, *, control, 1),"&"542 (bc_1, GPIO51_ATACS1, output3, X, 541, 1, Z),"&"543 (bc_1, GPIO51_ATACS1, input, X),"&"544 (bc_1, *, control, 1),"&"545 (bc_1, GPIO50_ATACS0, output3, X, 544, 1, Z),"&"546 (bc_1, GPIO50_ATACS0, input, X),"&
That shows two balls on a mid-size chip (the boundary scan includes about 620 such lines, in a 361-ball BGA package), each of which has three components in the BSR: a control configuring the ball (as input, output, what drive level, pullups, pulldowns, and so on); one type of output signal; and one type of input signal.
There are JTAG instructions to SAMPLE the data in that boundary scan register, or PRELOAD it with values.
During testing, I/O signals enter and leave the chip through the boundary-scan cells. Testing involves a number of test vectors, each of which drives some signals and then verifies that the responses are as expected. The boundary-scan cells can be configured to support external testing for interconnection between chips (EXTEST instruction) or internal testing for logic within the chip (INTEST instruction).
Typically high-end commercial JTAG testing systems allow the import of design 'netlists' from CAD/EDA systems plus the BSDL models of boundary scan/JTAG compliant devices to automatically generate test applications. Common types of test include
When used during manufacturing, such systems also support non-test but affiliated applications such as in-system programming of various types of flash memory: NOR, NAND, and serial (I2C or SPI).
Such commercial systems are used by board test professionals and will often cost several thousand dollars for a fully-fledged system. They can include diagnostic options to accurately pin-point faults such as open circuits and shorts and may also offer schematic or layout viewers to depict the fault in a graphical manner. Tests developed with such tools are frequently combined with other test systems such as in-circuit testers (ICTs) or functional board test systems.
The boundary scan architecture also provides functionality which helps developers and engineers during development stages of an embedded system. A JTAG Test Access Port (TAP) can be turned into a low-speed logic analyzer.
James B. Angell at Stanford University proposed serial testing.
IBM developed level-sensitive scan design (LSSD).
A microcontroller is a small computer on a single integrated circuit. In modern terminology, it is similar to, but less sophisticated than, a system on a chip (SoC); an SoC may include a microcontroller as one of its components. A microcontroller contains one or more CPUs along with memory and programmable input/output peripherals. Program memory in the form of ferroelectric RAM, NOR flash or OTP ROM is also often included on chip, as well as a small amount of RAM. Microcontrollers are designed for embedded applications, in contrast to the microprocessors used in personal computers or other general purpose applications consisting of various discrete chips.
Digital electronics or digital (electronic) circuits are electronics that operate on digital signals. In contrast, analog circuits manipulate analog signals whose performance is more subject to manufacturing tolerance, signal attenuation and noise. Digital techniques are helpful because it is a lot easier to get an electronic device to switch into one of a number of known states than to accurately reproduce a continuous range of values.
A programmable logic device (PLD) is an electronic component used to build reconfigurable digital circuits. Unlike a logic gate, which has a fixed function, a PLD has an undefined function at the time of manufacture. Before the PLD can be used in a circuit it must be programmed, that is, reconfigured.
AVR is a family of microcontrollers developed since 1996 by Atmel, acquired by Microchip Technology in 2016. These are modified Harvard architecture 8-bit RISC single-chip microcontrollers. AVR was one of the first microcontroller families to use on-chip flash memory for program storage, as opposed to one-time programmable ROM, EPROM, or EEPROM used by other microcontrollers at the time.
The Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) is a synchronous serial communication interface specification used for short-distance communication, primarily in embedded systems. The interface was developed by Motorola in the mid-1980s and has become a de facto standard. Typical applications include Secure Digital cards and liquid crystal displays.
A general-purpose input/output (GPIO) is an uncommitted digital signal pin on an integrated circuit or electronic circuit board whose behavior—including whether it acts as input or output—is controllable by the user at run time.
In digital electronics three-state, tri-state, or 3-state logic allows an output port to assume a high impedance state, effectively removing the output from the circuit, in addition to the 0 and 1 logic levels.
Metastability in electronics is the ability of a digital electronics system to persist for an unbounded time in an unstable equilibrium or metastable state. In digital logic circuits, a digital signal is required to be within certain voltage or current limits to represent a '0' or '1' logic level for correct circuit operation; if the signal is within a forbidden intermediate range it may cause faulty behavior in logic gates the signal is applied to. In metastable states, the circuit may be unable to settle into a stable '0' or '1' logic level within the time required for proper circuit operation. As a result, the circuit can act in unpredictable ways, and may lead to a system failure, sometimes referred to as a "glitch". Metastability is an instance of Buridan's paradox.
Design for testing or design for testability (DFT) consists of IC design techniques that add testability features to a hardware product design. The added features make it easier to develop and apply manufacturing tests to the designed hardware. The purpose of manufacturing tests is to validate that the product hardware contains no manufacturing defects that could adversely affect the product's correct functioning.
In-system programming (ISP), also called in-circuit serial programming (ICSP), is the ability of some programmable logic devices, microcontrollers, and other embedded devices to be programmed while installed in a complete system, rather than requiring the chip to be programmed prior to installing it into the system.
Boundary scan description language (BSDL) is a hardware description language for electronics testing using JTAG. It has been added to the IEEE Std. 1149.1, and BSDL files are increasingly well supported by JTAG tools for boundary scan applications, and by test case generators.
Serial Vector Format (SVF) is a file format that contains boundary scan vectors to be sent to an electronic circuit using a JTAG interface. Boundary scan vectors consist of the following data:
The Intel 8255 Programmable Peripheral Interface (PPI) chip was developed and manufactured by Intel in the first half of the 1970s for the Intel 8080 microprocessor. The 8255 provides 24 parallel input/output lines with a variety of programmable operating modes.
A Hardware Trojan (HT) is a malicious modification of the circuitry of an integrated circuit. A hardware Trojan is completely characterized by its physical representation and its behavior. The payload of an HT is the entire activity that the Trojan executes when it is triggered. In general, malicious Trojans try to bypass or disable the security fence of a system: It can leak confidential information by radio emission. HTs also could disable, derange or destroy the entire chip or components of it.
In electronics, a flip-flop or latch is a circuit that has two stable states and can be used to store state information. A flip-flop is a bistable multivibrator. The circuit can be made to change state by signals applied to one or more control inputs and will have one or two outputs. It is the basic storage element in sequential logic. Flip-flops and latches are fundamental building blocks of digital electronics systems used in computers, communications, and many other types of systems.
Level-sensitive scan design (LSSD) is part of an integrated circuit manufacturing test process. It is a DFT scan design method which uses separate system and scan clocks to distinguish between normal and test mode. Latches are used in pairs, each has a normal data input, data output and clock for system operation. For test operation, the two latches form a master/slave pair with one scan input, one scan output and non-overlapping scan clocks A and B which are held low during system operation but cause the scan data to be latched when pulsed high during scan.
____ | | Sin ----|S | A ------|> | | Q|---+--------------- Q1 D1 -----|D | | CLK1 ---|> | | |____| | ____ | | | +---|S | B -------------------|> | | Q|------ Q2 / SOut D2 ------------------|D | CLK2 ----------------|> | |____|
In the electronics industry, embedded instrumentation refers to the integration of test and measurement instrumentation into semiconductor chips. Embedded instrumentation differs from embedded system, which are electronic systems or subsystems that usually comprise the control portion of a larger electronic system. Instrumentation embedded into chips is employed in a variety of electronic test applications, including validating and testing chips themselves, validating, testing and debugging the circuit boards where these chips are deployed, and troubleshooting systems once they have been installed in the field.
MIPI Alliance Debug Architecture provides a standardized infrastructure for debugging deeply embedded systems in the mobile and mobile-influenced space. The MIPI Alliance MIPI Debug Working Group released therefore a portfolio of specifications. Their objective is to provide standard debug protocols and standard interfaces from the System on a chip (SoC) to the debug tool. The whitepaper Architecture Overview for Debug summarizes all efforts. In the last years the group focused on specifying protocols that improve the visibility of internal operations in deeply embedded systems, standardizing debug solutions via the functional interfaces of form factor devices and specifying the use of I3C as debug bus.
The MSP432 is a mixed-signal microcontroller family from Texas Instruments. It is based on a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4F CPU, and extends their 16-bit MSP430 line, with a larger address space for code and data, and faster integer and floating point calculation than the MSP430. Like the MSP430, it has a number of built-in peripheral devices, and is designed for low power requirements.