What Is The Best Way For New Engineers To Learn Boundary Scan?

Over the last several months I’ve been on the road visiting our Boundary Scan customers across the United States and Europe. These face-to-face meetings have been extremely informative since we have been unable to meet like that due to the COVID pandemic.

It’s been great to reconnect with our customers and discuss the new and exciting projects they have in the works. It’s also exciting to learn how our Boundary Scan product, ScanWorks, will play an integral role in the test, debug, validation, and deployment of these products. Playing such an integral role gives me satisfaction knowing that my company fulfills such an important function within their product’s lifecycle.

During one of these recent visits to a company that I consider a real power user of ScanWorks, the engineering manager who was participating in the meeting asked, “What is the best way for our new engineers to learn Boundary Scan?”

This company has begun hiring a large number of new engineers. Some were engineering interns that recently graduated from college and some were experienced engineers seeking a job change. These newly hired engineers will work on developing new designs that will implement Boundary Scan. Working on new projects that take advance of the ROI provided by Boundary Scan is a prudent move by the company, and I must say, applauded by us here at ASSET.

Boundary Scan and test engineering aren’t topics taught much at colleges and universities.

I performed a Google search and found a few colleges and universities that mention Boundary Scan and test engineering in their curriculum. Learning about Boundary Scan and test engineering traditionally has come through on-the-job training.

As I reflect on my matriculation toward an electrical engineering degree, there wasn’t any mention of Boundary Scan or test engineering topics. I didn’t learn about Boundary Scan until I began designing circuit boards during my 2nd job out of college.

With the United States passing and President Biden’s recent signing of the CHIPS Act legislation, which will bring more integrated circuit (IC) development back to the United States, the need for IC and printed circuit board (PCB) test engineers, who are also experienced in Boundary Scan, will grow. The CEO of ASSET InterTech, Glenn Woppman, wrote an excellent blog on this topic. I’m hopeful this act will create the next generation of engineers with Boundary Scan and test engineering knowledge as they enter the job market.

What is the best way for new engineers to learn Boundary Scan?

Back to the question I received from the engineering manager. My first response was to tell him about the excellent training resources available through ASSET. We have a detailed 4-day Boundary Scan Test Workshop that can be administered on-site or online. We’re in discussions regarding conducting 2 onsite training workshops with this company soon.

ASSET’s Boundary Scan Test workshop provides engineers with the basic knowledge of Boundary Scan. We begin with a Boundary Scan 101 section, to give insight into how the technology works. Students are then instructed in the use of our Boundary Scan tool, ScanWorks. The training workshop takes students from A to Z in building and running ScanWorks projects. The last day of the training workshop focuses on diagnosing faults detected by ScanWorks while utilizing actual PCB hardware. During the training workshop, students have access to a ScanLite 2 demonstration board to apply Boundary Scan test actions. To date, I along with the other Boundary Scan/ScanWorks trainers here at ASSET, have instructed well over 500 students in Boundary Scan technology and ScanWorks, across the world.

As I thought more about the engineering manager’s question, it occurred to me that I should assemble a directory of sorts, listing some of the valuable resources available to everyone to read and view to enhance their knowledge of Boundary Scan and ScanWorks. I’ll start with the wealth of information that can be found at ASSET.

The ASSET website should be your source for information on Boundary Scan.

As I’ve browsed our website, the amount of content that I and my colleagues have produced on Boundary Scan and more advanced topics is outstanding.

Under the Resources tab, you’ll see links for the ScanWorks Academy, Blogs, eBooks, and Videos. The ScanWorks Academy offers how-to videos for new and experienced ScanWorks users. We’ll be adding more videos in the future. We have videos ranging from an Introduction to ScanWorks, Scan Path Verify (SPV) Action How-to, Interconnect Test 101, and an Introduction to Memory Access Verify.

Under the Blog tab, all of the blogs we’ve written over the years on various ScanWorks for Boundary Scan and SourcePoint (our processor debug and trace tool). I’m currently writing a blog series titled “Everything you need to know about ScanWorks Interconnect.” During this blog series, I’ve gone over such topics as the Boundary Scan Description Language, the Test Access Port (TAP) operations, and the IEEE 1149.1 instructions. Our blogs are certainly worth a read.

Regarding eBooks, we have written dozens over the past ten years. The eBooks page is divided into manufacturing test, software debug, chip debug, and hardware validation sections. The topics of our eBooks range from Boundary Scan tutorials, Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) debugging, Internal JTAG (IJTAG) tutorials, Manufacturing Test Guidelines, Design for Test, non-Boundary Scan device tests, and DDR Memory tests.

ASSET conducts webinars which are recorded and placed on our website under Videos. You’ll find those under the Videos section. You’ll find webinar recordings on “Squeezing Out More Test Coverage: Bridging the Gap Between Boundary Scan and Functional Test”, “Embedded JTAG/Boundary Scan for Built-in Self-Test”, and “Chiplet Interconnect Testing Using JTAG/Boundary Scan”. Other videos that may be of interest are “Introductory Video on the IEEE 1687 (IJTAG) Design Flow” and “Onboard Fast Flash Programming Technology Innovations – Addressing Offboard Challenges.

If you are open to purchasing reference materials, Ken Parker’s Boundary Scan Handbook, Editions 1-4, would make great additions to your technical library. These books can be purchased on Amazon. The IEEE 1149.1 Standard Test Access Port for Boundary Scan Architecture reference can be purchased, as well as the 1149.6-2015, 1149.1-2013, etc. from the IEEE website.

There is no way that I can list all the ASSET resources available for download and viewing so here is a very “short list” of resources I have compiled on various topics.

I encourage you to visit our website and browse or use the website search feature to find information on a video, blog, or eBook pertaining to a specific topic!

ASSET InterTech Resources
Topic Boundary Scan and ScanWorks Training
Resource(s) https://www.asset-intertech.com/support/training/4-day-scanworks-boundary-scan-test-workshop-test/
Topic Boundary Scan
Resource(s) https://www.asset-intertech.com/resources/eresources/ieee-11491-jtag-and-boundary-scan-tutorial/


Topic Interconnect
Resource https://www.asset-intertech.com/resources/blog/2022/09/everything-you-need-to-know-about-scanworks-interconnect-part-1/



Topic Memory Test
Resource(s) https://www.asset-intertech.com/resources/eresources/testing-ddr4-memory-boundary-scanjtag/



Topic Flash Programming
Resource(s) https://www.asset-intertech.com/resources/eresources/speed-spi-flash-programming-using-fpga-and-jtag-revised/


Topic Extending Test Coverage
Resource(s) https://www.asset-intertech.com/resources/eresources/bridging-the-gap-between-boundary-scan-and-functional-test/


Topic Embedded Boundary Scan
Resource(s) https://www.asset-intertech.com/resources/eresources/embedded-jtag-boundary-scan-test/
Topic Design for Test
Resource(s) https://www.asset-intertech.com/resources/eresources/guidelines-for-board-design-for-test-dft-based-on-boundary-scan/




In addition to the plethora of videos, blogs, and eBooks created by ASSET, there are hundreds of articles on Boundary Scan topics by other authors. Of course, in this online world, Boundary Scan resources are just a Google search away.

The following are just a few of the public sources I found online just Googling Boundary Scan.

Boundary Scan Public Resources
Article Name Source/Author Website
Boundary Scan Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundary_scan
Why do we need Boundary Scan? EDN https://www.edn.com/boundary-scan-seven-benefits/
Boundary Scan Test for ICs and PCB Assemblies Medium/Amos Kingatua https://medium.com/supplyframe-hardware/boundary-scan-testing-for-ics-and-pcb-assemblies-d0f8b770dbeb


To summarize, there is a lot of valuable information on Boundary Scan out there just waiting to be discovered.

Michael Johnson