nCipher selects XJTAG for boundary scan test solution

  • XJTAG selected ahead of competition due to its price, reusability of scripts, speed of test development and real-time support
  • XJTAG utilised to test and debug PCBs for nCipher’s hardware security modules
  • nCipher’s contract manufacturing partner (Hansatech) using XJTAG for testing production boards.

CAMBRIDGE, England, February 21, 2005 XJTAG Limited, a specialist design and test tool developer and part of the Cambridge Technology Group, has been selected by nCipher, a leading provider of IT security solutions, to provide a boundary scan test system to test and debug the printed circuit boards (PCBs) for their hardware security modules.

nCipher has licensed the XJTAG boundary scan development system for use by its engineering team at its headquarters in Cambridge, England, where its range of hardware security modules (HSMs) are designed and developed. The XJTAG System will also be used by nCipher’s contract manufacturing partner, Hansatech, for testing production boards.

“We started looking at boundary scan solutions in mid 2004. The constant drive for product improvement forces our circuit boards to become ever smaller and by using Ball Grid Arrays (BGAs) and other JTAG-compliant devices we are able to mount more complicated devices onto the circuit board. The connectivity and manufacturing of these more densely populated boards are difficult to test by traditional methods,” said Colin Domoney, digital hardware design engineer at nCipher. “We opted for the XJTAG Development System as it offered us a best practise solution for testing our boards, allowing nCipher to better manage production costs and ensure a more reliable end product. XJTAG was also half the price of the nearest alternative whilst still offering all the features we required.”

nCipher provides hardware and software solutions that enable organisations to implement best practice IT security by addressing the technical challenges of using encryption. Many of the world’s leading organisations – from Microsoft and Barclays Bank to PricewaterhouseCoopers and the U.S. Navy – rely on nCipher to help deploy a sound e-security infrastructure.

nCipher’s products are particularly well suited to organisations with high volumes of security-sensitive transactions, such as banking and financial institutions, government departments, e-retailers and online service providers. nCipher’s HSMs support IT security industry encryption standards and protect the cryptographic keys that must remain an absolute secret for encryption to have any benefit.

“As the IT security market continues to develop, we need to constantly re-engineer our products to introduce the very latest technology,” added Colin Domoney. “With XJTAG, we have a modern, flexible solution that can test a high proportion of the circuit including JTAG and non-JTAG devices. It enables us to test and debug our boards in days as opposed to weeks, run connection tests and port device-centric test scripts across different products saving valuable development time. XJTAG also allows us to test and program flash chips in a fraction of the time it took us previously.”

To ensure that the benefits afforded by XJTAG are available through the prototyping stage and into production, nCipher has licensed XJRunner a production-optimised version of the XJTAG System minus the development capability for use by its contract manufacturing partner, Hansatech, at its facility at Kings Lynn, England.

Tim Murrell, senior electronics engineer for Hansatech Limited, who is based at the King’s Lynn facility, said: “XJTAG represents the biggest single step in test diagnostics that I have seen in years. It is an extremely versatile and flexible boundary scan solution, which, unlike some JTAG test products, integrates seamlessly with other test equipment. It will enable us to significantly improve the yield for the nCipher HSM prototype batches and early production runs. There is also considerable interest from our other customers particularly those that are manufacturing densely packed circuit boards populated with flip chips, ball grid array and chip scale devices.”

The powerful and easy-to-use XJTAG Development System is designed to cut the cost and shorten the development cycle of electronic products and provides a unique solution that can test JTAG as well as non-JTAG devices. XJTAG can test a high proportion of a circuit including BGA and chip scale devices, SDRAMs, Ethernet controllers, video interfaces, flash memories, FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays), microprocessors and many other devices. XJTAG also enables In-System Programming of FPGAs, CPLDs (Complex Programmable Logic Devices) and flash memories.

The XJTAG Development System provides a fully integrated environment, which can migrate seamlessly through the product life cycle from early design to field support and repair. XJTAG enables circuit designers to shorten the development cycle and prototyping process by facilitating early test development, early design validation of CAD netlists, fast generation of highly functional tests and test re-use across circuits that utilise the same devices. XJTAG test scripts are also re-usable and portable across different boards due to the novel device-centric approach that the designers have adopted.

For more information about the XJTAG Development System, please contact XJTAG, St John’s Innovation Centre, Cowley Road, Cambridge, CB4 0DS, UK. Telephone +44 (0) 1223 223007, fax +44 (0) 1223 223009 or email Alternatively, visit

About XJTAG (

XJTAG Limited is a specialist design and test tool developer. Its JTAG (Joint Test Action Group) development system offers a competitive solution for designers and developers of electronic circuits. Utilising XJTAG allows circuit development and prototyping process to be shortened significantly by facilitating early test development, early design validation, fast development of functional tests and test re-use across circuits that utilise the same devices. The company is based in the UK at St John’s Innovation Centre, Cowley Road, Cambridge.

About the Cambridge Technology Group (

Cambridge Technology Group is a holding company with three wholly owned subsidiaries – Adiabatic Logic Limited, Cambridge Technology Consultants Limited and XJTAG Limited. Adiabatic Logic ( was set up to exploit a portfolio of secured patents in the low power technology arena. Adiabatic Logic’s patented Intelligent Output Driver (IOD), launched in May 2003, delivers significant (up to 75%) power savings in chip I/O for portable devices such as laptop computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), MP3 players and smartphones.

Cambridge Technology Consultants ( offers its clients – companies such as ARM, AT&T, BOC Edwards, Celoxica, Co-operative Group, Fujitsu, Marconi, Mitsubishi Electric and IPWireless – a broad range of services from high-end applications to innovative product development and technical consultancy skills. For ten years, its multi disciplinary team of hardware and software engineers have provided cost-effective solutions from concept through to pre-production.

What is JTAG?

Advances in silicon design, such as increasing device density and, more recently, ball grid array (BGA) and chip scale packaging, have reduced the efficacy of traditional electronic circuit testing methods. In order to overcome these problems and others, some of the world’s leading silicon manufacturers combined to form the Joint Test Action Group (JTAG). The findings of this group were used as the basis for the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) standard 1149.1: Standard Test Access Port and Boundary Scan Architecture and subsequently the standard became known as JTAG.


Colin Domoney, digital hardware design engineer at nCipher (left) and Simon Payne, CEO, XJTAG (right) Simon Payne, XJTAG (left) and Colin Domoney, nCipher (right)

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