GSoC 2013 [flashrom] week #2

This week I have a very important directive to share with you:

Working (and especially debugging) in a methodological way does not only mean that every step should be taken on scientific grounds, but that the order of steps should be in an effective order too.

Why do I mention that? Last week I told you that the nice guys at Sage and AMD have sent me an ASRock Kabini board. I received it the following day (which amazed me quite a bit, because it came from US hence it had to undergo a customs check too…), hooked everything up: an old 300W ATX power supply (way overpowered for a 10W SoC) which I have used for coreboot development in the past, USB keyboard and mouse, network, a USB key with Ubuntu and a power button. I switched the PSU on, pressed the button and the fan began to rotate… for a few hundred milliseconds. WTF? I stripped away the non-essential connections and tried again – no change. I thought it could be the PSU – maybe the load is too small or something. But since I had no other supply easily accessible I decided to look at other possible causes: I checked all jumper settings (and there are quite a few of them) and noted a difference between the docs and the actual board regarding the jumpering of an always-on feature (which was a dead end but seemed very promising first), I cleared CMOS memory, reseated the DIMM etc. I even hooked up the flash chip to my logic analyzer to see if it tries to read commands from it… but there was no single proof of life.

So what do you think, is the board dead?

Did you spot the error I made? I hope you did with the blunt hint in the beginning. :) After pulling another PSU out of an old PC and hooking it up everything was fine. *sigh*

When getting the board up eventually I just did a few quick tests (including the flashrom hack that Wei Hu contributed after some discussion in my previous blog post (oh who would have thought that these blog posts are useful at all!? :P)) and put it aside again for hacking in the weeks to come.

The remaining time was spent again on bringing flashrom up to shape for release, waiting for Carl-Daniel and negotiating with a Micron representative over support for their (i.e Numonyx’ and ST’s) chips in flashrom. It has not been the first time for me to mail back and forth with flash vendors, but it is always quite tedious to explain non-technicians and/or people with no idea about open source what we have to offer and what we need; often language barriers play a role too. For example I tried to explain to a Macronix guy about 3 or 4 times why I can not truthfully fill out the sampling order form completely (i.e. the company field) before I gave up. I can’t remember if I filled out the form in the end or not, but I received the samples eventually. Together with the Micron samples that should arrive this week and other samples I received previously I will soon have more than 1GB of SPI flash space at my desk, yay. :)