Producing new technology from old
24 October 2011
To me, one of the most interesting aspects of electronics is to see manufacturers finding completely new applications to extend the use of, and prolong, existing technologies.
I saw a good example of this ingenuity recently from JTAG Technologies. The company has adapted its JTAG technology to allow users to generate a 'connectivity map' of a target board’s boundary scan to boundary scan pin connections. The user only requires BDSL models of JTAG std 1149.1 compliant parts, which are available from manufacturers' websites.
This new technology could prove extremely useful to repair and service centres that may not have the board’s original circuit design, especially since it requires no prior technical knowledge of boundary scan.
The technology forms part of JTAG’s Autobuzz product. Autobuzz can also be used in Learn and Compare mode, where a good board is mapped and the connections compared to a failed board to find faults such as interconnect short-circuits, open-circuits or ‘stuck-at’ faults.
Supported interfaces currently include Altera’s USB Blaster, Xilinx’s parallel III/IV and USB interfaces, JTAG Technologies’ JT 3705 / USB controller, JTAGLive dedicated USB controller and some FTDI based modules.
AutoBuzz also offers the programmable cluster test modules Clip and Script. This is a Python-based API that enables users to create boundary-scan based device or device cluster tests in an easy-to-learn, open-source programming environment. Extensions to the JTAGLive Script module also allow users to access embedded test and debug features of many devices through the use of ‘private’ JTAG instructions. This capability facilitates test and debugging beyond the boundary-scan test registers.
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