The many faces of the JTAG interface port

For many the term “JTAG” is still a point of confusion; for some engineers it is a device-programming port while for others it is for plugging in a microprocessor emulator or debugger, whereas, in fact, it was originally devised for neither. JTAG is an acronym of “Joint Test Action Group”, and initially the aim was to provide an alternative system to aid circuit board assembly testing, i.e. for detecting and diagnosing assembly errors such as solder shorts, lifted pins and missing/badly-placed components. The Group in JTAG refers to a small number of test professionals who met over a period of four to five years from 1985, to devise a scheme to embed test circuitry into digital devices with the aim of assisting in the structural test of PCBA(s). Similar schemes had been developed unilaterally by device manufacturers, such as IBM’s LSSD, but at that point there was no interoperability standard that all vendors could comply to. By 1990, the JTAG system, also known as “boundary-scan”, was officially an IEEE standard number 1149.1.

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Faster repair – Testing of electronics in the era of miniaturization

The test plan for a product should cover the whole product life-cycle and include: prototype debugging, manufacturing tests and field service repairs. The tools that can be used to locate a problem on a failing Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) depend on whether design data of the board is available or not, and whether test programs for the board already exist.


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Top 10 Test and Measurement Solution Companies – 2019

Test engineers in industries ranging from aerospace and defense to consumer electronics are facing the challenge of testing increasingly complicated designs with shrinking timelines and budgets. To address these issues, engineers and scientists are incorporating new test and measurement technologies that are capable of meeting complex design requirements without raising costs. One issue facing test engineers is that test instrumentation is not updated as rapidly as the devices being tested. The functionality of these complex devices is being defined by the software embedded in them, such as most smartphones, which gives design engineers the ability to add features faster than ever before. This is increasingly challenging for many test engineers because most stand-alone instruments often lack the measurement capabilities of the most recent standards due to the fixed user interface and firmware that must be developed and embedded in them. 

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Lower Production Costs – Testing of electronics in the era of miniaturization

Testing is essential to guarantee the quality of your products. One option is to perform a functional test. However, functional testing has two main disadvantages: you don’t know if you covered all possible assembly defects, and íf you find a failure it is hard (time-consuming, costly) to diagnose its cause. These two shortcomings are addressed by structural testing.