You, our users, show us the full potential of new boundary-scan test tools

I’m always amazed how we learn from our users. Of course, whenever we add a new capability to the ScanWorks platform for embedded instruments, we believe we’ve done our homework, thoroughly researching the marketplace to identify the features needed by our users. So, for instance, we think that we know how a new JTAG test feature is going to be used. But over and over again, we end up learning from you the extent of a new feature’s full potential.

Consider the recently introduced Component Action for ScanWorks Boundary-Scan Test (BST). We knew Component Action was flexible and it would provide tremendous value, but even we have been surprised by some of the exciting initial use cases you’ve come up with. 

The way we envisioned it, Component Action would give users easier access to monitors and controllers of temperature, voltage and current, as well as other system configuration devices, analog-to-digital converters (ADC), digital-to-analog converters (DAC), codecs and others. Many of these sorts of devices are based on the popular I2C and SPI communication protocols. As a result, they are perfect for a model-based methodology which capitalizes on two aspects of re-use, saving users significant amounts of time, effort and cost. First, device models, many of which are placed in the web-based ScanWorks model library that is open to all users, can be re-used on any number of designs. And second, the cycle definitions for SPI and I2C can also be used again and again. Over the years, users have validated this model-based methodology as they have happily developed new device models and re-used them on new designs. Moreover, many users share models by placing them in the ScanWorks model library.  

What we didn’t expect when we introduced Component Action – at least not this soon after the introduction – was that users would model very advanced devices so these could be tested with Component Action. One recent example was a Low Power DDR2 (LPDDR2) memory device, including this technology’s special communication interface and other restrictive requirements. One of our engineers worked closely with this user to produce an excellent interconnect test by reading and writing to the LPDDR2 device. Now this model can be re-used on designs in the future, pinpointing failures on any number of designs that include the device.  

Another very interesting deployment of Component Action has been a one-step process that tests and programs Toggle Mode NAND Flash devices. An algorithm was created to test interconnects and program boot code into the devices in the same step.

You can see why the library of models is growing so fast, and especially with I2C and SPI devices. With results and cost savings like this, lots of users are jumping on the bandwagon. 

What’s next? Your guess is as good as mine. But, then again, if you’re a user, your guess is probably way better than mine.

For more information, here’s a link to the ScanWorks BST Development page

And here’s another link to some of our boundary-scan resources you might be interested in.