Asset InterTech: Using U-boot as production test strategy — really?

[…]Here is where I see a dilemma with using U-Boot for test. First I have to build U-Boot, and second have enough of the system operational, DDR (DDR controller/PHY) and SD flash interface etc. before testing can begin. Testing often involves non-operational system or minimally functionally operational hardware. The use of U-Boot expects a significant portion of the target hardware operational.

Second, assuming that you were successful in building U-Boot you now need to load it on the flash of the UUT. Be sure to follow the below warning. If U-Boot is already installed and running on your board, you can use these instructions to download another U-Boot image to replace the current one.

Warning: Before you can install the new image, you must erase the current one. If anything goes wrong your board will be dead. It is strongly recommended that you have a backup of the old, working U-Boot image or you know how to install an image on a virgin system.

Next U-Boot has limited testing capabilities.[…]

Asset Intertech on debugging Minnowboard firmware

Asset Intertech has a blog series on debugging Minnowboard firmware using their debugger product. Even if you can’t afford their product, you can still learn about debugging UEFI firmware from this post. 🙂

The Minnowboard Chronicles – Episode 3

As I continue the journey to learn about the internals of UEFI and to debug it with SourcePoint, I encounter some issues doing the firmware build. Last week, I played around with the UEFI shell, and then updated the firmware on my Minnowboard to the latest release (v0.94). Then, I used SourcePoint to look at disassembled code when the platform was sitting in the UEFI shell, waiting for keyboard input. From last time, we can see a number of “INT 3” instructions, with opcode CC. […]

Arium, ASSET InterTech, and Intel IE

Though I’ve discussed some Intel UEFI debugging so far:
I’ve not mentioned Arium’s debugger yet. The Intel Tunnel Mountain UEFI dev board can be used with the Intel UDK Debugger Tool, a 2-system debugging solution that uses Windbg on Windows, GDB on Linux. If you want to trace into silicon, you need to buy some debugging hardware, and a debugger that works with that hardware. One solution is to use Arium’s ITP widget and their debugger. It is EXPENSIVE, so you have to be well-funded to have one of these units, but I’ve heard it is powerful. They have products for ARM and Intel.

ASSET InterTech acquired Arium a while ago, though I still think of them as Arium. 😦

The other week at Intel IDF, Intel announced the Innovation Engine (Intel IE), but no details yet, except for this blog post:

ASSET just blogged about updating their product to support Intel IE, excerpt here:

At this past Intel Developers Forum (IDF) in San Francisco, Intel unveiled some preliminary information on the new Innovation Engine (IE). In a nutshell, the IE is an embedded processor which allows system builders and their partners to build unique, differentiating firmware for server, storage, and networking markets. Differentiation has always been, and always will be, a key challenge for OEMs in the Intel space. Hardware, in and of itself, is very common across platforms designed with Intel silicon. There can be some differentiation based upon using some custom Intel SKUs (if you are a large enough customer), or designing circuit boards which deviate from the platform design guideline recommendations, but these come at a high cost – either in terms of Bill of Materials (BOM) cost, or risk of having a product with lower overall operating margins. Competitive advantage on Intel designs often comes from the embedded firmware, either the BIOS or the Baseboard Management Controller (BMC) code. And in the server world, OEMs are often beholden to the UEFI vendors for customization. So OEMs often invest in customization of system management to create differentiation – which is where the IE comes in. The IE can supplement or replace much of the functionality that may exist on today’s BMCs. In addition, for lower-end systems that may not require BMCs, the IE can provide a platform which delivers system management capabilities at no extra BOM cost. In Intel’s words, “some possible uses include hosting lightweight manageability features in order to reduce overall system cost, improving server performance by offloading BIOS and BMC routines, or augmenting the Intel® Management Engine for such things as telemetry and trusted boot.”

I’m waiting for Intel to release real information on their Innovation Engine.

Read the full ASSET blog post here, to see how they are using Intel IE with their diagnostic products: