Boundary scan: Seven benefits

Executive Summary

Boundary scan test techniques were first discussed in the late 1980s. At that time, experts believed that the growing complexity of chips would have a serious effect on an ICT system’s ability to place a nail accurately on a test pad. In addition, the development of multi-layer boards compounded the problem of physical access for testing interconnects between devices on a PCB.

Project Highlights

Many of the testing industry experts predicted that the “bed of nails” test system would disappear with the increasing complexity of chips. As a result, a group of concerned test engineers banded together to address this problem. The group was known as the Joint Test Action Group (JTAG). Their preferred solution was to access device pins by means of an internal serial shift register around the boundary of the device as shown below.

In the boundary scan design, the chip’s IOs were supplemented with the boundary scan cell (a storage element). The collection of boundary scan cells on a board can be configured in various ways to achieve a parallel-in, parallel-out shift register that is used for testing and for on-board programming purposes.

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