As pin counts rise and manufacturing improvements let chip and board designers route more signal lines to chips, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to test them. Chipmakers are moving to improve built-in self test (BIST) technologies, adding it to more chips and making tools more readily available.
The latest road map from the National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (NEMI) of Herndon, VA., notes that although electrical testing techniques have been keeping up with increased density for ICs, eventually “BIST will have to provide electrical verification.” Both boardmakers and IC companies are employing BIST to overcome the limitations of functional and system testing, NEMI says (http://www.nemi.org/roadmapping/Executive_Summary.pdf). That will make it simpler for developers to test high density boards.
Xilinx Inc., of San Jose, CA, this week upgraded the BIST capabilities of its field programmable gate arrays in conjunction with the unveiling of its 500 MHz Virtex 4 line (http://www.xilinx.com/xlnx/xil_prodcat_landingpage.jsp?title=Virtex-4). The BIST offering now has programmable trigger options that minimize the chance of overflowing storage capacities, as well as native Linux support. Engineers can also print directly from the logic analyzers, bypassing the PC or other controller.
Intel Corp. recently teamed up with Asset InterTech Inc. of Richardson, TX, using Asset’s ScanWorks tool to support Intel’s Interconnect BIST technology (http://www.asset-intertech.com/news.html). Intel plans to embed IBIST on many of its forthcoming ICs. “The Intel IBIST test technology will be an integral technology for us going forward,” says Scott Huck, Intel Platform Technologist.
ScanWorks, which should be available for Intel parts early next year, includes software test controllers that validate high-speed buses such as PCI-Express and Infiniband. In another move last month, Asset InterTech provided links between its boundary scan software and National Instruments LabView and TestStand programs.
Intel had teamed up with Asset InterTech, which will provide tools for Intel’s forthcoming IBIST technology.