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In embedded systems, the separation between system level, board level, and individual component level failure analysis is slowly disappearing. In order to localize the initial defect area, prepare the sample for root cause analysis, and image the exact root cause, the overall functionality has to be maintained during the process. This leads to the requirement of adding additional techniques that help isolate and image defects that are buried deeply within the board structure. This article demonstrates an approach of advanced board level failure analysis by using several non-destructive localization techniques. The techniques considered for advanced fault isolation are magnetic current imaging for shorts and opens; infrared thermography for electrical shorts; time-domain-reflectometry for shorts and opens; scanning acoustic microscopy; and 2D/3D X-Ray microscopy. The individual methods and their operational principles are introduced along with case studies that will show the value of using them on board level defect analysis.

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