A BIST scheme for RTL circuits based on symbolic testability analysis

Indradeep Ghosh, Niraj K. Jha, Sudipta Bhawmik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This paper introduces a novel scheme for testing register-transfer level (RTL) controller/data paths using built-in self-test (BIST). The scheme uses the controller netlist and the data path of a circuit to extract a test control/data flow (TCDF) graph. This TCDF is used to derive a set of symbolic justification and propagation paths (known as test environment) to test some of the operations and variables present in it. If it becomes difficult to generate such test environments with the derived TCDF's, a few test multiplexers are added at suitable points in the circuit to increase its controllability and observability. The test environment of an operation (variable) guarantees the existence of a path from the primary inputs of the circuit to the inputs of the module (register) to which the operation (variable) is mapped, and a path from the output of the module (register) to a primary output of the circuit. Since the search for a test environment is done symbolically, it is very fast and needs to be done only once for each module or register in the circuit. This test environment can then be used to exercise a module or register in the circuit with pseudorandom pattern generators which are placed only at the primary inputs of the circuit. The test responses can be analyzed with signature analyzers which are only placed at the primary outputs of the circuit. Unlike many RTL BIST schemes, an increase in the data path bit-width does not adversely impact the complexity of our testability analysis scheme since the analysis is symbolic. Every module in the module library is made random-pattern testable, whenever possible, using gate-level testability insertion techniques. This is a one-time cost. Finally, a BIST controller is synthesized to provide the necessary control signals to form the different test environments during testing, and a BIST architecture is superimposed on the circuit. Experimental results on a number of industrial and university benchmarks show that high fault coverage (>99%) can be obtained with our scheme. The average area overhead of the scheme is 6.9% which is much lower than many existing logic-level BIST schemes. The average delay overhead is only 2.5%. The test application time to achieve the high fault coverage for the whole circuit is also quite low.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-128
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Built-in self-test
  • Controller/data path
  • RTL testability
  • Symbolic testability analysis
  • Test control/data flow


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