ASSET InterTech published a white paper about a new method for validating, testing and debugging circuit boards by embedding a board-tester-in-a-chip. The title of the technical article is: FPGA-Controlled Test (FCT): What it is and why it is needed. The paper describes a method call FPGA-controlled test (FCT). FCT involves the automatic insertion of multiple embedded instruments into a field programmable gate array to function as a board tester. The embedded board tester is then operated from an intuitive drag-and-drop graphical user interface.
The FPGA-Controlled Test white paper describes how an FCT board-tester-in-a-chip works, including a diagram and explanation of the IJTAG architecture in the FPGA. The ASSET InterTech paper also gives details of the board test coverage that can be obtained using FCT.
With FPGA-controlled test, the board-tester-in-a-chip does not require a dedicated FPGA. The inserted tester can be easily removed once it has completed its tasks and re-inserted later if it is needed again. Or, some or all of the tester may remain embedded in the system throughout its life cycle.
FPGA devices are an effective platform for embedded test and measurement functionality at a time when legacy external probe-based equipment like oscilloscope and in-circuit test (ICT) systems are providing less and less test coverage. Faster speeds and greater complexities have increased the electrical sensitivities of chips and boards to the point where a physical probe will not provide adequate test coverage or reliable results.