JTAG CoreCommander for FPGAs Allows PCB Test Using IP Cores

March 15, 2013. CoreCommander for FPGAs, from JTAG Technologies, offers a generic solution based on VHDL code that allows engineers to bridge from the standard JTAG test and programming port (TAP) to proprietary IP cores (for example, DDR and USB controllers) and harness them for test purposes. Forming part of its range of ETP (Embedded Test and Programming) products, CoreCommander FPGA is aimed primarily at hardware design and test engineers.

The base of CoreCommander for FPGAs uses a translator block to access proprietary IP cores through commonly implemented bus structures such as Wishbone, AMBA, Avalon, and CoreConnect. This translator block, provided as a VHDL module, can be either permanently or temporarily programmed into a gate array. Linker software provided with the module automatically links the translator block with IP blocks to build the complete (test) design to be programmed in the FPGA.

Use of CoreCommander functions can be either interactive or automatic—via library routines in a scripting environment. The interactive mode is intended for use by design engineers to interrogate and control the IP blocks in their FPGAs during debug. The automatic mode, however, is more likely to find favor during (at-speed) logic cluster testing in manufacturing.

Together with interconnect testing, logic device cluster testing has been one of the mainstays of JTAG/boundary-scan board testing since its inception over 20 years ago. However, in recent years the capacity of the simple (low-speed) boundary-scan register (BSR) to cope with sophisticated command and control requirements of parts like DDR memory has diminished to the point that tests can be compromised. By harnessing the horsepower built into devices like microprocessors and now FPGAs, JTAG testing is again re-energized, allowing the connections to timing-sensitive devices to once again be fully tested and at functional speeds.

Peter van den Eijnden, managing director for JTAG Technologies, stated, “We wanted to implement faster testing of peripherals using our standard JTAG hardware and software tools but without reinventing the wheels for peripheral interface blocks.” CoreCommander for FPGAs, he said, can link with many standard IP blocks to simplify operation while controlling costs.


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