A design-for-testability technique for register-transfer level circuits using control/data flow extraction

Indradeep Ghosh, Anand Raghunathan, Niraj K. Jha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


-In this paper, we present a technique for extracting functional (control/data flow) information from register-transfer level controller/data path circuits, and illustrate its use in design for hierarchical testability of these circuits. This scheme does not require any additional behavioral information. It identifies a suitable control and data flow from the register-transfer level circuit, and uses it to test each embedded element in the circuit by symbolically justifying its precomputed test set from the system primary inputs to the element inputs and symbolically propagating the output response to the system primary outputs. When symbolic justification and propagation become difficult, it inserts test multiplexers at suitable points to increase the symbolic controllability and observability of the circuit. These test multiplexers are mostly restricted to off-critical paths. Testability analysis and insertion are completely based on the registertransfer level circuit and the functional information automatically extracted from it, and are independent of the data path bit width owing to their symbolic nature. Furthermore, the data path test set is obtained as a byproduct of this analysis without any further search. Unlike many other design-for-testability techniques, this scheme makes the combined controller-data path very highly testable. It is general enough to handle control-flow-intensive register-transfer level circuits like protocol handlers as well as data-flow intensive circuits like digital filters. It results in low area/delay/power overheads, high fault coverage, and very low test generation times (because it is symbolic and independent of bit width). Also, a large part of our system-level test sets can be applied at speed. Experimental results on many benchmarks show the average area, delay, and power overheads for testability to be 3.1, 1.0, and 4.2%, respectively. Over 99% fault coverage is obtained in most cases with two-four orders of magnitude test generation time advantage over an efficient gate-level sequential test pattern generator and one-three orders of magnitude advantage over an efficient gate-level combinational test pattern generator (that assumes full scan). In addition, the test application times obtained for our method are comparable with those of gatelevel sequential test pattern generators, and up to two orders of magnitude smaller than designs using full scan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-723
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Design for testability
  • Functional information extraction
  • Rtl circuit testing
  • Symbolic testing


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