Functional Self-Test of DSP cores in a SOC

University essay from KTH/Mikroelektronik och Informationsteknik, IMIT

Abstract: The rapid progress made in integrating enormous numbers of transistors on a single chip is making it possible for hardware designers to implement more complex hardware architectures in their designs. Nowadays digital telecommunication systems are implementing several forms of SOC (System-On-Chip) structures. These SOCs usually contain a microprocessor, several DSP cores (Digital-Signal-Processors), other hardware blocks, on-chip memories and peripherals. As new IC process technologies are deployed, with decreasing geometrical dimensions, the probabilities of hardware faults to occur during operation are increasing. Testing SOCs is becoming a very complex issue due to the increasing complexity of the design and the increasing need of a test mechanism that is able to achieve acceptable fault coverage in a short test application time with low power consumption without the use of external logic testers. As a part of the overall test strategy for a SOC, functional self-testing of a DSP core is considered in this project to be applied in the field. This test is used to verify whether fault indications in systems are caused by permanent hardware faults in the DSP. If so, the DSP where the fault is located needs to be taken out of operation, and the board it sits on will be later replaced. If not, the operational state can be restored, and the system will become fully functional again. The main purpose of this project is to develop a functional self-test of a DSP core, and to evaluate the characteristics of the test. This project also involves proposing a scheme on how to apply a functional test on a DSP core in an embedded environment, and how to retrieve results from the test. The test program shall run at system speed. To develop and measure the quality of the test program, two different coverage metrics were used. The first is the code coverage metric achieved by simulating the test program on the RTL representation of the DSP. The second metric used was the fault coverage achieved. The fault coverage of the test was calculated using a commercial Fault Simulator working on a gate-level representation of the DSP. The results achieved in this report show that this proposed approach can achieve acceptable levels of fault coverage in short execution time without the need for external testers which makes it possible to perform the self-test in the field. This approach has the unique property of not requiring any hardware modifications in the DSP design, and the ability of testing several DSPs in parallel.

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