Hierarchical test generation and design for testability methods for aspp's and ASIP's

Indradeep Ghosh, Anand Raghunathan, Niraj K. Jha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


In this paper, we present design for testability (DFT) and hierarchical test generation techniques for facilitating the testing of application-specific programmable processors (ASPP's) and application-specific instruction processors (ASIP's). The method utilizes the register-transfer level (RTL) circuit description of an ASPP or ASIP to come up with a set of test microcode patterns which can be written into the instruction read-only memory (ROM) of the processor. These lines of microcode dictate a new control/data flow in the circuit and can be used to test modules which are not easily testable. The new control/data flow is used to justify precomputed test sets of a module from the system primary inputs to the module inputs and propagate output responses from the module output to the system primary outputs. The testability analysis, which is based on the relevant control/data flow extracted from the RTL circuit, is symbolic. Thus, it is independent of the bit-width of the data path and is extremely fast. The test microcode patterns are a by-product of this analysis. If the derived test microcode cannot test all untested modules in the circuit, then test multiplexers are added (usually to the off-critical paths of the data path) to test these modules. This is done to guarantee the testability of all modules in the circuit. If the control microcode memory of the processor is erasable, then the test microcode lines can be erased once the testing of the chip is over. In that case, the DFT scheme has very little overhead (typically less than 1%). Otherwise, the test microcode lines remain as an overhead in the control memory. The method requires the addition of only one external test pin. Application of this technique to several examples has resulted in a very high fault coverage (above 99.6%) for all of them. The test generation time is about three orders of magnitude smaller compared to an efficient gate-level sequential test generator. The average area overhead (without assuming an erasable ROM) is 3.1% while the delay overheads are negligible. This method does not require any scan in the controller or data path. It is also amenable to at-speed testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-370
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Application-specific instruction processors (as ip's)
  • Application-specific programmable processors (aspp's)
  • Design for testability
  • Hierarchical testing
  • Symbolic testing


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