Williams, A.C., Brown, A.D. and Zwolinski, M.
In-line Test of Synthesised Systems Exploiting Latency Analysis
During normal operation, there are periods of time in which units in a digital system (adders, multipliers etc.) are inactive, i.e. are not processing any useful data. These ?latent periods? may be exploited to continually perform sets of unit tests, thus providing a dynamic indication of the healthiness of the system with little or no effect on its performance. This paper details an analysis technique for identifying and quantifying these latent periods by modelling the flow of control through the system as a Markov chain, which takes into account branching and feedback in the controller. The resulting data describes the distribution of latent periods in an entire design, and, given a testing requirement in the form of a minimum number of (latent) cycles required to perform a test, provides a figure for how often and to what extent a particular unit may be tested during normal operation. This analysis is utilised to investigate the impact particular optimisation strategies have on the distribution of latent periods, in a number of synthesised benchmark designs. These results are further developed to demonstrate how a knowledge of the latent period distribution can be used to direct the synthesis process and lead to a substantial improvement in the distribution of latent periods, whilst not over adversely affecting other design aspects, particularly the area.
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