Built-In Self Test in VLSI: Ensuring Quality

Built-In Self Test in VLSI: Ensuring Quality

Built-in self-test is a design technique embedded within VLSI circuits that allows them to test themselves for various types of faults and potential malfunctioning. This means the chip doesn’t require external equipment or complex procedures to identify issues. BIST essentially equips the chip with its diagnostic toolkit.

BIST Techniques in VLSI

Logic BIST

Logic BIST is the workhorse of the BIST family, responsible for scrutinizing the fundamental building blocks of digital circuits – the logic gates. Its mission is to ensure these gates perform their intended operations flawlessly, free from faults like stuck-at conditions or incorrect signal transitions.

Memory BIST

Memory is another crucial component in VLSI chips, and Memory BIST ensures its data integrity and functionality. Unlike Logic BIST, it deals with complex memory arrays, testing for issues like stuck-at faults, addressing decoding errors, and data corruption.

Analog BIST

While primarily focused on digital circuits, BIST also ventures into the realm of analog components. Analog BIST is less common due to the inherent complexity of analog circuits, but it plays a vital role in mixed-signal chips where both digital and analog components coexist.

Advantages of BIST in VLSI

Built-In Self-Test (BIST) is a key technology in VLSI chip design and manufacturing, offering many advantages that make it essential in today’s electronics industry. Here are the main benefits:

Early Fault Detection

BIST identifies defects during manufacturing, preventing faulty chips from reaching consumers and ensuring only high-quality, reliable chips reach the market. This reduces device failures and improves overall product reputation.

Thorough Testing

BIST performs comprehensive testing of various circuit elements like logic gates, memory blocks, and even analog circuits, reaching areas challenging for external testing methods. This leads to improved fault coverage and minimizes the risk of undetected issues. This also complements design verification in VLSI by acting as a critical second line of defense by catching potential defects that may have been missed during the design stage. 

Improved Yield

Early detection and isolation of faulty chips prevent cascading effects and allow for potentially salvaging repairable defects. This increases the overall yield of the manufacturing process, reducing costs and waste.

Reduced Testing Costs

BIST eliminates the need for expensive external testing procedures later in the production line, resulting in significant cost savings.

Faster Time to Market

BIST’s internal testing capabilities shorten the overall testing process, allowing chips to be tested and manufactured more quickly. This can lead to faster product development and quicker time to market for new electronics.


Limitations of BIST in VLSI

Increased Design Complexity

Implementing BIST circuitry adds to the overall design complexity, requiring additional expertise and resources.

Overhead in Chip Area and Power

BIST circuitry consumes some chip area and power, which needs to be factored into the design and may not be suitable for all applications.

Test Coverage Limitations

While effective, BIST may not catch all potential faults, and additional testing methods might be necessary depending on the chip’s complexity and criticality.

Applications of BIST in VLSI

Built in self test finds its applications across a wide range of VLSI chips and systems. Here are some key areas where BIST shines:

Microprocessors and CPUs

  • Testing logic functions in arithmetic logic units (ALUs), caches, instruction decoders, and bus interfaces.
  • Ensuring data integrity and functionality in caches and registers.
  • Performing startup tests and diagnostics for early fault detection.

Memory Devices

  • Testing various types of memory, including RAM, ROM, flash memory, and memory controllers.
  • Detecting stuck-at faults, address decoding errors, and data corruption.
  • Implementing built-in error correction (BSEC) to automatically repair corrupted data.

Wireless Devices

  • Testing radio frequency (RF) transceivers, modulation and demodulation circuits, error correction circuits, and encryption circuits.
  • Ensuring optimal performance and secure communication in wireless devices like mobile phones, Bluetooth modules, and Wi-Fi adapters.

Automotive Electronics


  • Testing safety-critical functions in engine control units (ECUs), anti-lock braking systems (ABS), and airbag deployment systems.
  • Ensuring high reliability and fault tolerance in automotive systems to prevent potential accidents or malfunctions.
  • Performing on-board diagnostics for real-time monitoring and predictive maintenance.



The implementation of BIST is revolutionary for ensuring the quality and reliability of modern electronics. To meet the increasing demand for integrated circuits, every VLSI engineer must equip themselves with the knowledge of BIST. To learn more about the built-in self-test in VLSI, one can opt for VLSI training. If you are looking for a VLSI course in Bangalore, ChipEdge is an exceptional institution. We aim to upskill working professionals and postgraduates with our VLSI design courses delivered by industry experts, which come with placement assistance and certification. 

Contact ChipEdge today to enroll in the best VLSI training institute in Bangalore!

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