Announcing coreboot 4.13

coreboot 4.13 was released on November 20th, 2020.

Since 4.12 there were 4200 new commits by over 234 developers. Of these, about 72 contributed to coreboot for the first time.

Thank you to all developers who again helped made coreboot better than ever, and a big welcome to our new contributors!

New mainboards

  • Acer G43T-AM3
  • AMD Cereme
  • Asus A88XM-E FM2+
  • Biostar TH61-ITX
  • BostenTech GBYT4
  • Clevo L140CU/L141CU
  • Dell OptiPlex 9010
  • Example Min86 (fake board)
  • Google Ambassador
  • Google Asurada
  • Google Berknip
  • Google Boldar
  • Google Boten
  • Google Burnet
  • Google Cerise
  • Google Coachz
  • Google Dalboz
  • Google Dauntless
  • Google Delbin
  • Google Dirinboz
  • Google Dooly
  • Google Drawcia
  • Google Eldrid
  • Google Elemi
  • Google Esche
  • Google Ezkinil
  • Google Faffy
  • Google Fennel
  • Google Genesis
  • Google Hayato
  • Google Lantis
  • Google Lindar
  • Google Madoo
  • Google Magolor
  • Google Metaknight
  • Google Morphius
  • Google Noibat
  • Google Pompom
  • Google Shuboz
  • Google Stern
  • Google Terrador
  • Google Todor
  • Google Trembyle
  • Google Vilboz
  • Google Voema
  • Google Volteer2
  • Google Voxel
  • Google Willow
  • Google Woomax
  • Google Wyvern
  • HP EliteBook 2560p
  • HP EliteBook Folio 9480m
  • HP ProBook 6360b
  • Intel Alderlake-P RVP
  • Kontron COMe-bSL6
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X230s
  • Open Compute Project DeltaLake
  • Prodrive Hermes
  • Purism Librem Mini
  • Purism Librem Mini v2
  • Siemens Chili
  • Supermicro X11SSH-F
  • System76 lemp9

Removed mainboards

  • Google Cheza
  • Google DragonEgg
  • Google Ripto
  • Google Sushi
  • Open Compute Project SonoraPass

Significant changes

Native refcode implementation for Bay Trail

Bay Trail no longer needs a refcode binary to function properly. The refcode was reimplemented as coreboot code, which should be functionally equivalent. Thus, coreboot only needs to run the MRC.bin to successfully boot Bay Trail.

Unusual config files to build test more code

There’s some new highly-unusual config files, whose only purpose is to coerce Jenkins into build-testing several disabled-by-default coreboot config options. This prevents them from silently decaying over time because of build failures.

Initial support for Intel Trusted eXecution Technology

coreboot now supports enabling Intel TXT. Though it’s not feature-complete yet, the code allows successfully launching tboot, a Measured Launch Environment. It was tested on Haswell using an Asrock B85M Pro4 mainboard with TPM 2.0 on LPC. Though support for other platforms is still not ready, it is being worked on. The Haswell MRC.bin needs to be patched so as to enable DPR. Given that the MRC binary cannot be redistributed, the best long-term solution is to replace it.

Hidden PCI devices

This new functionality takes advantage of the existing ‘hidden’ keyword in the devicetree. Since no existing boards were using the keyword, its usage was repurposed to make dealing with some unique PCI devices easier. The particular case here is Intel’s PMC (Power Management Controller). During the FSP-S run, the PMC device is made hidden, meaning that its config space looks as if there is no device there (Vendor ID reads as 0xFFFF_FFFF). However, the device does have fixed resources, both MMIO and I/O. These were previously recorded in different places (MMIO was typically an SA fixed resource, and I/O was treated as an LPC resource). With this change, when a device in the tree is marked as ‘hidden’, it is not probed (pci_probe_dev()) but rather assumed to exist so that its resources can be placed in a more natural location. This also adds the ability for the device to participate in SSDT generation.

Tools for generating SPDs for LP4x memory on TGL and JSL

A set of new tools gen_spd.go and gen_part_id.go are added to automate the process of generating SPDs for LP4x memory and assigning hardware strap IDs for memory parts used on TGL and JSL based boards. The SPD data obtained from memory part vendors has to be massaged to format it correctly as per JEDEC and Intel MRC expectations. These tools take a list of memory parts describing their physical attributes as per their datasheet and convert those attributes into SPD files for the platforms. More details about the tools are added in

New version of SMM loader

A new version of the SMM loader which accommodates platforms with over 32 CPU threads. The existing version of SMM loader uses a 64K code/data segment and only a limited number of CPU threads can fit into one segment (because of save state, STM, other features, etc). This loader extends beyond the 64K segment to accommodate additional CPUs and in theory allows as many CPU threads as possible limited only by SMRAM space and not by 64K. By default this loader version is disabled. Please see cpu/x86/Kconfig for more info.

Address Sanitizer

coreboot now has an in-built Address Sanitizer, a runtime memory debugger designed to find out-of-bounds access and use-after-scope bugs. It is made available on all x86 platforms in ramstage and on QEMU i440fx, Intel Apollo Lake, and Haswell in romstage. Further, it can be enabled in romstage on other x86 platforms as well. Refer ASan documentation for more info.

Initial support for x86_64

The x86_64 code support has been revived and enabled for QEMU. While it started as PoC and the only supported platform is an emulator, there’s interest in enabling additional platforms. It would allow to access more than 4GiB of memory at runtime and possibly brings optimised code for faster execution times. It still needs changes in assembly, fixed integer to pointer conversions in C, wrappers for blobs, support for running Option ROMs, among other things.

Preparations to minimize enabling PCI bus mastering

For security reasons, bus mastering should be enabled as late as possible. In coreboot, it’s usually not necessary and payloads should only enable it for devices they use. Since not all payloads enable bus mastering properly yet, some Kconfig options were added as an intermediate step to give some sort of “backwards compatibility”, which allow enabling or disabling bus mastering by groups.

Currently available groups are:

  • PCI bridges
  • Any devices

For now, “Any devices” is enabled by default to keep the traditional behaviour, which also includes all other options. This is currently necessary, for instance, for libpayload-based payloads as the drivers don’t enable bus mastering for PCI bridges.

Exceptional cases, that may still need early bus master enabling in the future, should get their own per-reason Kconfig option. Ideally before the next release.

Early runtime configurability of the console log level

Traditionally, we didn’t allow the log level of the romstage console to be changed at runtime (e.g. via get_option()). It turned out that the technical constraints for this (no global variables in romstage) vanished long ago, though. The new behaviour is to query get_option() now from the second stage that uses the console on. In other words, if the bootblock already enables the console, the romstage log level can be changed via get_option(). Keeping the log level of the first console static ensures that we can see console output even if there’s a bug in the more involved code to query options.

Resource allocator v4

A new revision of resource allocator v4 is now added to coreboot that supports mutiple ranges for allocating resources. Unlike the previous allocator (v3), it does not use the topmost available window for allocation. Instead, it uses the first window within the address space that is available and satisfies the resource request. This allows utilization of the entire available address space and also allows allocation above the 4G boundary. The old resource allocator v3 is still retained for some AMD platforms that do not conform to the requirements of the allocator.


PCI bus master configuration options

In order to minimize the usage of PCI bus mastering, the options we introduced in this release will be dropped in a future release again. For more details, please see Preparations to minimize enabling PCI bus mastering.

Resource allocator v3

Resource allocator v3 is retained in coreboot tree because the following platforms do not conform to the requirements of the resource allocation i.e. not all the fixed resources of the platform are provided during the read_resources() operation:

  • northbridge/amd/pi/00630F01
  • northbridge/amd/pi/00730F01
  • northbridge/amd/pi/00660F01
  • northbridge/amd/agesa/family14
  • northbridge/amd/agesa/family15tn
  • northbridge/amd/agesa/family16kb

In order to have a single unified allocator in coreboot, this notice is being added to ensure that the platforms listed above are fixed before the next release. If there is interest in maintaining support for these platforms beyond the next release, please ensure that the platforms are fixed to conform to the expectations of resource allocation.

[GSoC] libgfxinit: Add support for Bay Trail

Hello everyone. I’ve been working on adding Bay Trail support to libgfxinit as a GSoC project. Yes, as I don’t usually talk much outside of IRC and Gerrit, I would imagine this post would come up as a surprise to most people. Despite the journey being way more difficult than initially foreseen, I eventually managed to get most of what I could test on Bay Trail working, with next to no spaghetti-looking code.

The commits adding Bay Trail support to libgfxinit and integration with coreboot can be retrieved with this Gerrit query. Additionally, the coreboot port for the Asrock Q1900M mainboard used for testing can be found on this Gerrit change.

I ran into several problems while working on this GSoC project, and submitted various fixes and improvements. Links to these commits can be found in later sections. Strictly speaking, these commits are not directly related to this GSoC project, but they spurred when working on GSoC.

Unfortunately, I ran into multiple setbacks, which precluded me from completing everything I had originally planned within the GSoC timeframe:

  • Since I only managed to fix some bugs last-minute, the code has not been formally verified yet. Nevertheless, formally verifying the code before it works and has been reviewed is rather pointless, since it needs to be verified again after amending it.
  • DisplayPort and integrated panel support could not be tested due to inaccessible hardware. I had to take a plane from the university campus to home on June and it was impossible to squeeze both the Asrock Q1900M and the Asus X551MA in my luggage. I decided to bring the Asrock Q1900M, as it is more compact and easier to work with.
  • There was no time left to work on Braswell support. While Bay Trail and Braswell are somewhat related, there are many differences regarding the undocumented parts of the hardware, and there’s even less documentation.

Undeterred by any misfortunes, I am going to finish what I started, come hell or high water.

Project details

libgfxinit is a graphics initialization (aka modesetting) library for embedded environments. It currently supports only Intel hardware, more specifically the Intel Core processor line. It can query and set up most kinds of displays based on their EDID information. You can, however, also specify particular mode lines.

Support for the Intel Bay Trail platform is was missing in libgfxinit. The code hasn’t landed upstream yet, so one would need to fetch it from Gerrit in order to use it. This involves fetching the libgfxinit patches first, using the checkout download option on CB:42359 (the topmost change), and then cherry-picking CB:44071 and CB:44072 into coreboot. CB:44938 and CB:39658 show how to enable libgfxinit for Bay Trail mainboards. Since the available video ports is mainboard-specific, needs to be adjusted accordingly.

Trials and Tribulations

The hardware is cursed

Getting software to work usually takes some testing, but when said software interacts with hardware, testing becomes essential. And when said hardware is largely undocumented, testing is pretty much the only option. The Display chapters of the graphics programming manuals for these platforms lack the information that matters for libgfxinit. Even the Bay Trail documentation turned out to be incomplete, especially regarding the display PHY and PLL registers. When working on libgfxinit, I soon got Bay Trail to show something on a monitor. However, making that work reliably took much longer than I expected. This was mainly because I needed to spend at least a day or two without looking at the code to see what was wrong with it.

Said PHY and PLL registers are hidden within IOSF-SB, a sideband interconnect network accessed through a mailbox-style interface. To access a register, not only does one need to read or write the register contents, but also needs to program the destination port (address of the hardware block), opcode (which type of read or write) and register offset, and then poll a busy bit until the operation is complete. Of course, this register access mechanism is not described in the graphics documentation, so the only references are existing graphics drivers. Reading someone else’s code in order to understand what documentation should say is, at best, downright painful.

After I managed to get something to show on the screen, I noticed that this would only work on very specific system states. In addition, manually (using the intel_reg utility) writing several undocumented registers before running gfx_test would sometimes help. I eventually figured out that most of the accesses to undocumented registers did not have any effect, because of a blunder in the IOSF accessor library I wrote: I messed up the bitfields when assembling the request register (contains the target port, opcode and some always-one bits), so the accesses would often end up going to the wrong port.

There’s always more bugs

The Bay Trail code in coreboot was only used by a single mainboard: the Google Rambi chromebook/chromebox/chromebase family. Memory initialization is done by a binary-only executable, which contains Intel’s MRC (Memory Reference Code). This binary is simply called “MRC binary” or mrc.bin (the file’s name). However, it is actually an ELF binary, and the Makefile in coreboot will place it at a different offset depending on the file extension. So, Bay Trail has a mrc.elf instead: using the mrc.bin name will place the binary at the wrong offset, and won’t work.

Once this mystery was solved, the MRC on the Asrock Q1900M would not detect any DIMMs. Turns out SMBus support in MRC is broken, so one needs to read the SPD contents into a buffer, and then pass that buffer to the MRC. CB:44092 takes care of that.

Even then, MRC would still refuse to work on the Asrock Q1900M. After some digging, it is because it checks the memory type in the SPD, and bails out if they are not SO-DIMMs or do not support 1.35V operation. The Asrock Q1900M uses full-size desktop UDIMMs, which may not always support 1.35V operation. CB:39568 patches the necessary values in the SPD buffer so that MRC will function as intended.

Externally-induced translocation

I don’t mind running errands or going out in general. However, I do utterly despise having to move and live elsewhere: I have to pack my computers and parts, and I have lots of them. I live in an archipelago, I don’t have my own house nor car yet, and my parents’ home and the university campus aren’t on the same island. Dad usually comes with his car at the start/end of the school year, as I need to move lots of stuff. Oh, and my parents are divorced, so my sister and I go back and forth when not abroad.

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, in-person lessons were suspended for the rest of the academic year. Most people living in the university campus (there’s a students’ residence in there) went back home almost immediately. I didn’t, because I didn’t feel like taking a plane amidst the outbreak and preferred to stay in my cozy server dorm room. However, as there were no more in-person lessons, the residence had to close, and I eventually had to leave. Moreover, Dad couldn’t come this time because he was overwhelmed by work (he was unable to work during lockdown, so everything piled up until the lockdown ended). So, I had to take a plane and leave most of my stuff in the residence, including all of my monitors with digital inputs and one of my two Bay Trail machines, which I had planned on using for GSoC.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve had to pack my things again, every week. This means each week only had six useful days, at best. This, plus everything else going on at home, quickly burned me up. It reached a point where I couldn’t bear any longer and had to take a two-week break from coreboot development.


Although there were many unforeseen hurdles and problems around every corner, I would still call this a huge success. Just like university assignments, it has been rushed down to the last minute.

[GSoC] Address Sanitizer, Wrap-up

Hello everyone. The coding period for GSoC 2020 is now officially over and it’s time for the final evaluation. I’ll use this blog post to summarize the project details, illustrate the instructions to use ASan, and discuss some ideas on what can be done further to enhance this feature.

You can find the complete list of commits I made during GSoC with this Gerrit query.

Project details

Memory safety is hard to achieve. We, as humans, are bound to make mistakes in our code. While it may be straightforward to detect memory corruption bugs in few lines of code, it becomes quite challenging to find those bugs in a massive code. In such cases, ‘Address Sanitizer’ may prove to be useful and could help save time.

Address Sanitizer, also known as ASan, is a runtime memory debugger designed to find out-of-bounds accesses and use-after-scope bugs. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working to add support for ASan to coreboot. You can read my previous blog posts (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) to see my progress throughout the summer.

Here is a description of the components included in the project:

GCC patch

The design of ASan in coreboot is based on its implementation in Linux kernel, also known as Kernel Address Sanitizer (KASAN). However, we can’t directly port the code from Linux.

Unlike the Linux kernel which has a static shadow region layout, we have multiple stages in coreboot and thus require a different shadow offset address. Unfortunately, GCC currently only supports adding a static shadow offset at compile time using -fasan-shadow-offset flag. Therefore the foremost task was to add support for dynamic shadow offset to GCC.

We enabled GCC to determine the shadow offset address at runtime using a callback function named __asan_shadow_offset. This supersedes the need to specify this address at compile time. GCC then makes use of this shadow offset in its internal mem_to_shadow translation function to poison stack variables’ redzones.

The patch further allowed us to place the shadow region in a separate linker section. This ensured if a platform didn’t have enough memory space to hold the shadow buffer, the build would fail.

The way the patch was introduced to GCC’s code base ensures that if
one compiles a piece of code with the new switch enabled i.e. --param asan-use-shadow-offset-callback=1 but has not applied the patch itself to GCC, the compiler will throw the following error because the newly introduced switch is unknown for an out of box GCC: invalid --param name 'asan-use-shadow-offset-callback‘.

I believe this patch might also be useful to the developers who contribute to other open-source projects. Hence, I’ve put this patch on GCC’s mailing list and asked GCC’s developers to include this feature in their upcoming release.

ASan in ramstage

Since ramstage uses DRAM, regardless of the platform, it should always have enough room in the memory to hold the shadow buffer. Therefore, I began by adding support for ASan in ramstage on x86 architecture.

To reserve space in memory for the shadow region, I created a separate linker section and named it asan_shadow. Here, instead of allocating shadow memory for the whole memory region which includes drivers and hardware mapped addresses, I only defined shadow region for the data and heap sections.

Then I started porting KASAN library functions, tweaking them to make them suitable for coreboot.

The next task was to initialize the shadow memory at runtime. I created a function called asan_init which unpoisons i.e. sets the shadow memory corresponding to the addresses in the data and heap sections to zero.

In the case of global variables, instead of poisoning the redzones directly, the compiler inserts constructors invoking the library function named __asan_register_globals to populate the relevant shadow memory regions. So, I wrote a function named asan_ctors which calls these constructors at runtime and added a call to this function to asan_init().

After doing some tests, I realized that compiler’s ASan instrumentation cannot insert asan_load or asan_store state checks in the memory functions like memset, memmove and memcpy as they are written in assembly. So, I added manual checks using the library function named check_memory_region for both source and destination pointers.

ASan in romstage

Once I had ASan in ramstage working as expected, I started adding support for ASan to romstage.

It was challenging because of two reasons. First, even within the same architecture, the size of L1 cache varies across the platforms from 32KB in Braswell to 80KB in Ice Lake and thus we can’t enable ASan in romstage for all platforms by doing tests on a handful of devices. Second, the size of a cache is very small compared to RAM making it difficult to fit asan_shadow section in the limited memory.

Thankfully, the latter issue, to a large extent, was solved by our GCC patch which allowed us to append asan_shadow section to the region already occupied by the coreboot program and make efficient use of limited memory.

Now to resolve the first issue, I introduced a Kconfig option called HAVE_ASAN_IN_ROMSTAGE to denote if a particular platform supports ASan in romstage. This allowed us to enable ASan in romstage only for the platforms which have been tested.

Based on the hardware available with me and my mentor, I enabled ASan in romstage for Haswell and Apollo Lake platforms, apart from QEMU.

Project usage

Instructions for how to use ASan are included in ASan documentation. I’ll restate them with an example here.

Suppose there is a stack-out-of-bounds error in cbfs.c that we aren’t aware of. Let’s see if ASan can help us detect it.

int cbfs_boot_region_device(struct region_device *rdev)
	int stack_array[5], i;

	for (i = 10; i > 0; i--)
		stack_array[i] = i;

	return vboot_locate_cbfs(rdev) &&
	       fmap_locate_area_as_rdev("COREBOOT", rdev);

First, we have to enable ASan from the configuration menu. Just select Address sanitizer support from General setup menu. Now, build coreboot and run the image.

ASan will report the following error in the console log:

ASan: stack-out-of-bounds in 0x7f7432fd
Write of 4 bytes at addr 0x7f7c2ac8

Here 0x7f7432fd is the address of the last good instruction before the bad access. In coreboot, stages are relocated. So, we have to normalize this address to find the instruction which causes this error.

For this, let’s subtract the start address of the stage i.e. 0x7f72c000. The difference we get is 0x000172fd. As per our console log, this error happened in the ramstage. So, let’s look at the sections headers of ramstage from ramstage.debug.

 $ objdump -h build/cbfs/fallback/ramstage.debug

build/cbfs/fallback/ramstage.debug:     file format elf32-i386

Idx Name          Size      VMA       LMA       File off  Algn
  0 .text         00070b20  00e00000  00e00000  00001000  2**12
  1 .ctors        0000036c  00e70b20  00e70b20  00071b20  2**2
                  CONTENTS, ALLOC, LOAD, RELOC, DATA
  2 .data         0001c8f4  00e70e8c  00e70e8c  00071e8c  2**2
                  CONTENTS, ALLOC, LOAD, RELOC, DATA
  3 .bss          00012940  00e8d780  00e8d780  0008e780  2**7
  4 .heap         00004000  00ea00c0  00ea00c0  0008e780  2**0

Here the offset of the text segment is 0x00e00000. Let’s add this offset to the difference we calculated earlier. The resultant address is 0x00e172fd.

Next, we read the contents of the symbol table and search for a function having an address closest to 0x00e172fd.

 $ nm -n build/cbfs/fallback/ramstage.debug
00e17116 t _GLOBAL__sub_I_65535_1_gfx_get_init_done
00e17129 t tohex16
00e171db T cbfs_load_and_decompress
00e1729b T cbfs_boot_region_device
00e17387 T cbfs_boot_locate
00e1740d T cbfs_boot_map_with_leak
00e174ef T cbfs_boot_map_optionrom

The symbol having an address closest to 0x00e172fd is cbfs_boot_region_device and its address is 0x00e1729b. This is the function in which our memory bug is present.

Now, as we know the affected function, we read the assembly contents of cbfs_boot_region_device which is present in cbfs.o to find the faulty instruction.

 $ objdump -d build/ramstage/lib/cbfs.o
  51:   e8 fc ff ff ff          call   52 <cbfs_boot_region_device+0x52>
  56:   83 ec 0c                sub    $0xc,%esp
  59:   57                      push   %edi
  5a:   83 ef 04                sub    $0x4,%edi
  5d:   e8 fc ff ff ff          call   5e <cbfs_boot_region_device+0x5e>
  62:   83 c4 10                add    $0x10,%esp
  65:   89 5f 04                mov    %ebx,0x4(%edi)
  68:   4b                      dec    %ebx
  69:   75 eb                   jne    56 <cbfs_boot_region_device+0x56>

Let’s look for the last good instruction before the error happens. It would be the one present at the offset 62 (0x00e172fd0x00e1729b).

The instruction is add $0x10,%esp and it corresponds to for (i = 10; i > 0; i--) in our code. It means the very next instruction i.e. mov %ebx,0x4(%edi) is the one that causes the error. Now, if you look at C code of cbfs_boot_region_device() again, you’ll find that this instruction corresponds to stack_array[i] = i.

Voilà! we just caught the memory bug using ASan.

Future work

While my work for GSoC 2020 is complete, I think the following extensions would be useful for this project:

Heap buffer overflow

Presently, ASan doesn’t detect out-of-bounds accesses for the objects defined in heap. Fortunately, the support for these types of memory bugs can be added easily.

We just have to make sure that whenever some block of memory is allocated in the heap, the surrounding areas (redzones) are poisoned. Correspondingly, these redzones should be unpoisoned when the memory block is de-allocated.

Post-processing script

Unlike Linux, coreboot doesn’t have %pS printk format to dereference a pointer to its symbolic name. Therefore, we normalize the pointer address manually as I showed above to determine the name of the affected function and further use it to find the instruction which causes the error.

A custom script can be written to automate this process.

Support for other platforms and architectures

Jenkins builder built successfully for all x86 boards except for the ones that hold either Braswell SoC or i440bx northbridge where the cache area got full and thus couldn’t fit the asan_shadow section. It shows that support for ASan in romstage can be easily added to most x86 platforms. We just have to test them by selecting HAVE_ASAN_IN_ROMSTAGE option and resolve the compilation errors if any.

Enabling ASan in ramstage on other architectures like ARM or RISC-V should be easy too. We just have to make sure the shadow memory is initialized as early as possible when ramstage is loaded. This can be done by making a function call to asan_init() at the appropriate place.

Similarly, ASan in romstage can be enabled for other architectures. I have mentioned some key points in ASan documentation which could be used by someone who might be interested in doing so.

For the platforms that don’t have enough space in the cache to hold the asan_shadow section, we have to come up with a new translation function that uses a much compact shadow memory. Since the stack buffers are protected by the compiler, we’ll also have to create another GCC patch forcing it to use the new translation function for this particular platform.


I’d like to thank my mentor Werner Zeh for his continued assistance during the past 13 weeks. This project certainly wouldn’t have been possible without his valuable suggestions and the knowledge he shared. I’d also like to thank Patrick Georgi for helping me with the work authorization initially and later supervising my work during the time when Werner was on vacation.

Further, I am grateful to every member of the community for assisting me whenever I got stuck, reviewing my code, reading my blogs, and sharing their feedback.

It has been an amazing journey and I look forward to contributing to coreboot in the future.

[GSoC] Address Sanitizer, Part 3

Hello again! The third and final phase of GSoC is coming to an end and I’m glad that I made it this far. In this blog post, I’d like to outline the work done in the last two weeks.

Memory functions

Compiler’s ASan instrumentation cannot insert asan_load or asan_store memory checks in the memory functions like memset, memmove and memcpy. This is because these functions are written in assembly.

While Linux kernel replaces these functions with their variants which are written in C, I took a different approach.

In coreboot, the assembly instructions for these memory functions are embedded into C code using GNU’s asm extension. This provided me with an opportunity to use the ASan library function named check_memory_region to manually check the memory state before performing each of these operations. At the start of each function, I added the following code snippet:

	check_memory_region((unsigned long)src, n, false, _RET_IP_);
	check_memory_region((unsigned long)dest, n, true, _RET_IP_);

This way neither I had to fiddle with the assembly instructions nor I had to replace these functions with their C variants which might have caused some performance issues. [CB:44307]


Since I finished a little early with what I had proposed to deliver, Werner suggested that I should write documentation on ASan and I am happy that he did. When I read the intro of the documentation guidelines, I realized how a feature as significant as ASan might go unnoticed and unused by many if it lacks proper documentation.

In ASan documentation, I have tried my best to answer questions like how to use ASan, what kind of bugs can be detected, what devices are currently supported, and how ASan support can be added to other architectures like ARM or RISC-V.

The documentation is not final yet and I’d really appreciate inputs from the community. So, please give it a read and share your feedback. [CB:44814]

In the end, I’d like to announce that ASan patches have been merged into the coreboot source tree. You can go ahead and make use of this debugging tool to look for memory corruption bugs in your code.

[ASan patches]

[GSoC] Address Sanitizer, Part 2

Hello again! Its been a month since my last blog post. So, there are many updates I’d like to share. I’ll first cover the Address Sanitizer (ASan) algorithm in detail and then summarize the progress made until the second evaluation period.

If you recall my last post, I had briefly talked about the principle behind ASan. Now, let us discuss the ASan algorithm in much more depth. But first, we need to understand the memory layout and how the compiler’s instrumentation works.

Memory mapping

ASan divides the memory space into 2 disjoint classes:

  • Main Memory (mem): This represents the original memory used by our coreboot program in a particular stage.
  • Shadow Memory (shadow): This memory region contains the shadow values. The state of each 8 aligned bytes of mem is encoded in a byte in shadow. As a consequence, the size of this region is equal to 1/8th of the size of mem. To reserve a space in memory for this class, we added a new linker section and named it asan_shadow.

This is how we added asan_shadow in romstage:

	_shadow_size = (_ebss - _car_region_start) >>  3;
	REGION(asan_shadow, ., _shadow_size, ARCH_POINTER_ALIGN_SIZE)

and in ramstage:

	_shadow_size = (_eheap - _data) >> 3;
	REGION(asan_shadow, ., _shadow_size, ARCH_POINTER_ALIGN_SIZE)

The linker symbol pairs (_car_region_start, _ebss) and ( _data, _eheap) are references to the boundary addresses of mem in romstage and ramstage respectively.

Now, there exists a correspondence between mem and shadow classes and we have a function named asan_mem_to_shadow that performs this translation:

void *asan_mem_to_shadow(const void *addr)
	return (void *)((uintptr_t)&_asan_shadow + (((uintptr_t)addr -
		(uintptr_t)&_car_region_start) >> ASAN_SHADOW_SCALE_SHIFT));
	return (void *)((uintptr_t)&_asan_shadow + (((uintptr_t)addr -
		(uintptr_t)&_data) >> ASAN_SHADOW_SCALE_SHIFT));

In other words, asan_mem_to_shadow maps each 8 bytes of mem to 1 byte of shadow.

You may wonder what is stored in shadow? Well, there are only 9 possible shadow values for any aligned 8 bytes of mem:

  • The shadow value is 0 if all 8 bytes in qword are unpoisoned (i.e. addressable).
  • The shadow value is negative if all 8 bytes in qword are poisoned (i.e. not addressable).
  • The shadow value is k if the first k bytes are unpoisoned but the rest 8-k bytes are poisoned. Here k could be any integer between 1 and 7 (1 <= k <= 7).

When we say a byte in mem is poisoned, we mean one of these special values are written into the corresponding shadow.


Compiler’s ASan instrumentation adds a runtime check to every memory instruction in our program i.e. before each memory access of size 1, 2, 4, 8, or 16, a function call to either __asan_load(addr) or __asan_store(addr) is added.

Next, it protects stack variables by inserting gaps around them called ‘redzones’. Let’s look at an example:

int foo ()
char a[24] = {0};
int b[2] = {0};
int i;

a[5] = 1;

for (i = 0; i < 10; i++)
    b[i] = i;

return a[5] + b[1];

For this function, the instrumented code will look as follows:

int foo ()
char redzone1[32]; // Slot 1, 32-byte aligned
char redzone2[8];  // Slot 2
char a[24] = {0};  // Slot 3
char redzone3[32]; // Slot 4, 32-byte aligned
int redzone4[6];   // Slot 5
int b[2] = {0};    // Slot 6
int redzone5[8];   // Slot 7, 32-byte aligned
int redzone6[7];
int i;
int redzone7[8];

a[5] = 1;

for (i = 0; i < 10; i++)
    b[i] = i;

return a[5] + b[1];

As you can see, the compiler has inserted redzones to pad each stack variable. Also, it has inserted function calls to __asan_store and __asan_load before writes and reads respectively.

The shadow memory for this stack layout is going to look like this:

Slot 1:        0xF1F1F1F1
Slots 2, 3:    0xF1000000  
Slot 4:        0xF1F1F1F1
Slots 5, 6:    0xF1F1F100  
Slot 7:        0xF1F1F1F1

Here F1 being a negative value represents that all 8 bytes in qword are poisoned whereas the shadow value of 0 represents that all 8 bytes in qword are accessible. Notice that in the slots 2 and 3, the variable ‘a’ is concatenated with a partial redzone of 8 bytes to make it 32 bytes aligned. Similarly, a partial redzone of 24 bytes is added to pad the variable ‘b’.

The process of protecting global variables is a little different from this. We’ll talk about it later in this blog post.

Now, as we have looked at the memory mapping and the instrumented code, let’s dive into the algorithm.

ASan algorithm

The algorithm is pretty simple. For every read and write operation, we do the following:

  • First, we find the address of the corresponding shadow memory for the location we are writing to or reading from. This is done by asan_mem_to_shadow().
  • Then we determine if the access is valid based on the state stored in the shadow memory and the size requested. For this, we pass the address returned from asan_mem_to_shadow() to memory_is_poisoned(). This function dereferences the shadow pointer to check the memory state.
  • If the access is not valid, it reports an error in the console mentioning the instruction pointer address, the address where the bug was found, and whether it was read or write. In our ASan library, we have a dedicated function asan_report() for this.
  • Finally, we perform the operation (read or write).
  • Then, we continue and move over to the next instruction.

Here’s a pictorial representation of the algorithm:

Note that whether access is valid or not, ASan never aborts the current operation. However, the calls to ASan functions do add a performance penalty of about ~1.5x.

Now, as we have understood the algorithm, let’s look at the function foo() again.

int foo ()
char a[24] = {0};
int b[2] = {0};
int i;

a[5] = 1;

for (i = 0; i < 10; i++)
    b[i] = i;

return a[5] + b[1];

Have a look at the for loop. The array ‘b’ is of length 2 but we are writing to it even beyond index 1.

As the loop is executed for index 2, ASan checks the state of the corresponding shadow memory for &b[2]. Now, let’s look at the shadow memory state for slot 7 again (shown in the previous section). It is 0xF1F1F1F1. So, the shadow value for the location b[2] is F1. It means the address we are trying to access is poisoned and thus ASan is triggered and reports the following error in the console log:

ASan: stack-out-of-bounds in 0x07f7ccb1
Write of 4 bytes at addr 0x07fc8e48

Notice that 0x07f7ccb1 is the address where the instruction pointer was pointing to and 0x07fc8e48 is the address of the location b[2].

ASan support for romstage

In the romstage, coreboot uses cache to act as a memory for our stack and heap. This poses a challenge when adding support for ASan to romstage because of two reasons.

First, even within the same architecture, the size of cache varies across the platforms. So, unlike ramstage, we can’t enable ASan in romstage for all platforms by doing tests on a handful of devices. We have to test ASan on each platform before adding this feature. So, we decided to introduce a new Kconfig option HAVE_ASAN_IN_ROMSTAGE to denote if a particular platform supports ASan in romstage. Now, for each platform for which ASan in romstage has been tested, we’ll just select this config option. Similarly, we also introduced HAVE_ASAN_IN_RAMSTAGE to denote if a given platform supports ASan in ramstage.

The second reason is that the size of a cache is very small compared to the RAM. This is critical because the available memory in the cache is quite low. In order to fit the asan_shadow section on as many platforms as possible, we have to make efficient use of the limited memory available. Thankfully, to a large extent, this problem was solved by our GCC patch which allowed us to append the shadow memory buffer to the region already occupied by the coreboot program. (I ran Jenkins builder and it built successfully for all boards except for the ones that hold either Braswell SoC or i440bx northbridge where the cache area got full and thus couldn’t fit the asan_shadow section.)

In the first stage, we have enabled ASan in romstage for QEMU, Haswell and Apollolake platforms as they have been tested.

Further, the results of Jenkins builder indicate that, with the current translation function, the support for ASan in romstage can be added on all x86 platforms except the two mentioned above. Therefore, I’ve asked everyone in the community to participate in the testing of ASan so that this debugging tool can be made available on as many platforms as possible before GSoC ends.

Global variables

When we initially added support for ASan in ramstage, it wasn’t able to detect out-of-bounds bugs in case of global variables. After debugging the code, I found that the redzones for the global variables were not poisoned. So, I went through GCC’s ASan and Linux’s KASAN implementation again and realized that the way in which the compiler protects global variables was very much different from its instrumentation for stack variables.

Instead of padding the global variables directly with redzones, it inserts constructors invoking the library function named __asan_register_globals to populate the relevant shadow memory regions. To this function, compiler also passes an instance of the following type:

struct asan_global {
       /* Address of the beginning of the global variable. */
       const void *beg;

       /* Initial size of the global variable. */
       size_t size;

       /* Size of the global variable + size of the red zone. This
          size is 32 bytes aligned. */
       size_t size_with_redzone;

       /* Name of the global variable. */
       const void *name;

       /* Name of the module where the global variable is declared. */
       const void *module_name;

       /* A pointer to struct that contains source location, could be NULL. */
       struct asan_source_location *location;

So, to enable the poisoning of global variables’ redzones, I created a function named asan_ctors which calls these constructors at runtime and added it to ASan initialization code for the ramstage.

You may wonder why asan_ctors() is only added to ramstage? This is because the use of global variables is prohibited in coreboot for romstage and thus there is no need to detect global out-of-bounds bugs.

Next steps..

In the third coding period, I’ve started working on adding support for ASan to memory functions like memset, memmove and memcpy. I’ll push the patch on Gerrit pretty soon.

Once, this is done, I’ll start writing documentation on ASan answering questions like how to use ASan, what kind of bugs can be detected, what devices are currently supported, and how ASan support can be added to other architectures like ARM or RISC-V.

[ASan patches]

[GSoC] Address Sanitizer, Part 1

Hello everyone. My name is Harshit Sharma (hst on IRC). I am working on the project to add the “Address Sanitizer” feature to coreboot as a part of GSoC 2020. Werner Zeh is my mentor for this project and I’d like to thank him for his constant support and valuable suggestions.

It’s been a fun couple of weeks since I started working on this project. Though I found the initial few weeks quite challenging, I am glad that I was able to get past that and learned some amazing stuff I’d cherish for a long time.

Also, being a student, I find it incredible to have got a chance to work with and learn from such passionate, knowledgeable, and helpful people who are always available over IRC to assist.

A few of you may already know about the progress we’ve made through Werner’s message on the mailing list. This is a much comprehensive report on the work we had done prior to the first evaluation period.

What is Address Sanitizer ?

Address Sanitizer (ASan) is a runtime memory debugging tool, designed to find out of bounds and use after free memory bugs. It is a part of toolset Google has developed which also includes Undefined Behaviour Sanitizer (UBSan), a Thread Sanitizer (TSan), and a Leak Sanitizer (LSan).

This tool would help in improving code quality and thus would make our runtime code more robust.

Compile with ASan

The firstmost task was to ensure that coreboot compiles without any errors after Asan is enabled. For this, we created dummy functions and added the relevant GCC flags to build coreboot with ASan. We also introduced a Kconfig option (currently only available on x86 architecture) to enable this feature. (Patch [1])

Porting code from Linux

The design of ASan in coreboot is based on its implementation in Linux kernel, also known as Kernel Address Sanitizer (KASAN). However, coreboot differs a lot from Linux kernel due to multiple stages and that is what poses a challenge.

Design of ASan

ASan uses compile-time instrumentation that adds a run-time check before every memory instructions.

The basic idea is to encode the state of each 8 aligned bytes of memory in a byte in the shadow region. As a consequence, the shadow memory is allocated to 1/8th of the available memory. The instrumentation of the compiler adds __asan_load and __asan_store function calls before memory accesses which seeks the address of the corresponding shadow memory and then decides if access is legitimate depending on the stored state.

If the access is not valid, it throws an error telling the instruction pointer address, the address where a bug is found and whether it was read or write.

Need for GCC patch

Unlike Linux kernel which has a static shadow memory layout, coreboot has multiple stages with very different memory maps. Thus we require different shadow offset addresses for each stage.

Unfortunately, GCC presently, only supports using a static shadow offset address which is specified at compile time using -fasan-shadow-offset flag.

So, we came up with a GCC patch that introduces a feature to use a dynamic shadow offset address. Through this, we enable GCC to determine shadow offset address at runtime using a callback function __asan_shadow_offset().

Though we’ve presented our patch to GCC developers to convince them to include this change in their upcoming version, for now, ASan on coreboot only works if this patch is applied. (Patches [2] and [3])

Allocating and initializing shadow buffer

Instead of allocating a shadow buffer for the whole memory region, we decided to only define shadow memory for data and heap sections. Since we don’t want to run ASan for hardware mapped addresses, this way we save a lot of memory space.

Once the shadow region is allocated by the linker, the next task is to initialize it as early as possible at runtime. This is done by a call to asan_init() which unpoisons i.e. sets the shadow memory corresponding to the addresses in the data and heap sections to zero.

ASan support for ramstage

We decided to begin in a comparatively simpler stage i.e. ramstage. Since ramstage uses DRAM, the implementation is common across all platforms of a particular architecture. Moreover, ramstage provides enough room in the memory to place our shadow region.

For now, we have only enabled this feature for x86 architecture and it is able to detect stack out of bounds and use after scope bugs. Though the patches are still in the review stage, we did a test on QEMU and siemens mc_apl3 (Apollo Lake based) and so far it looks good to us. (Patch [4])

Next steps..

In the second coding period, we’ve started working on adding ASan to romstage. I will push a change on Gerrit once we make some considerable progress.

We further encourage everyone in the community to review the patches and test this feature on their hardware for better test coverage. The more feedback we get, the more are the chances to have a high-quality debugging tool.

Announcing coreboot 4.12

coreboot 4.12 was released on May 12th, 2020.

Since 4.11 there were 2692 new commits by over 190 developers and of these, 59 contributed for the first time, which is quite an amazing increase.

Thank you to all developers who again helped made coreboot better than ever, and a big welcome to our new contributors!


This release saw some activity on the MAINTAINERS file, showing more persons, teams and companies declare publicly that they intend to take care of mainboards and subsystems.

To all new maintainers, thanks a lot!


Our documentation efforts in the code tree are picking up steam, with some 70 commits in that general area. Everything from typo fixes to documenting mainboard support or coreboot APIs.

There’s still room to improve, but the contributions are getting more and better.

Hardware support

The removals due to the announced deprecations as well as the deduplication of boards into variants skew the stats a bit, so at a top level view this is a rare coreboot release in that it removes more boards (51) than it adds (49).

After accounting for the variant moves the numbers in favor of more hardware supported than the previous version. Besides a whole lot of Chrome OS devices (again), this release features a whole bunch of retrofits for devices originally shipping with non-coreboot OEM firmware, but also support for devices that come with coreboot right out of the box.

For that, a shout out to System76, Protectli, Libretrend and the Open Compute Project!


We simplified the header that comes at the top of every file: Instead of a lengthy reference to the license any given file is under, or even the license text itself, we opted for simple SPDX identifiers.

Since people also handled copyright lines differently, we now opt for collecting authors in AUTHORS and let git history tell the whole story.

While at it, the content-free "This file is part of this-and-that project" header was also dropped.

Besides that, there has also been more work to sort out the headers we include across the tree to minimize the code impacting every compilation unit.

Now that our board-variant mechanism matured, many boards that were individual models so far were converted into variants, making it easier to maintain families of devices.


For the 4.12 release a few features on x86 became mandatory. These are relocatable ramstage, postcar stage and C_ENVIRONMENT_BOOTBLOCK.

Relocatable ramstage

Relocatable stages are a feature implemented only on x86, where stages can be relocated at runtime. This is used to place ramstage in a better location that does not collide with memory the OS or the payload tends to use. The rationale behind making this mandatory is that you always want cbmem to be cached so it’s a good location to run ramstage from. It avoids using lower memory altogether so the OS can make use of it and no backing up needs to happen on S3 resume.

Postcar stage

With Postcar stage tearing down Cache-as-Ram is done in a separate stage. This means that romstage has a clean program boundary and that all variables in romstage can be accessed via their linked addresses without runtime resolution. There is no need to link global and static variables via the CAR_GLOBAL macro and no need to access them with car_set/get_var/ptr functions.


Historically the bootblock on x86 platforms has been compiled with romcc. This means that the generated code only uses CPU registers and therefore no stack. This 20K+ LOC compiler is limited and hard to maintain and so is the code that one has to write in that environment. A different solution is to set up Cache-as-Ram in the bootblock and run GCC compiled code in the bootblock. The advantages are increased flexibility and consistency with other architectures as well as other stages: e.g. printing to console is possible and VBOOT can run before romstage, making romstage updatable via RW FMAP regions.

Platforms dropped from master

The following platforms did not implement those feature are dropped from master to allow the master branch to move on:

  • AMDFAM10
  • VIA VX900

In particular on FSP1.0 it is impossible to implement POSTCAR stage. The reason is that FSP1.0 relocates the CAR region to the HOB before returning to coreboot. This means that after FSP returns to coreboot accessing variables via their original address is not possible. One way of obtaining that behavior would be to set up Cache-as-Ram again (but with open source code) and copy the relocated data from the HOB there. This solution is deemed too hacky. Maybe a lesson can be learned from this: blobs should not interfere with the execution environment, as this makes proper integration much harder.


Given that some platforms supported by FSP1.0 are being produced and popular, the 4.11 release was made into a branch in which further development can happen.

Significant changes

SMMSTORE is now production ready

See smmstore for the documentation on the API, but note that there will be an update to it featuring a much-improved but incompatible API.

Unit testing infrastructure

Unit testing of coreboot is now possible in a more structured way, with new build subsystem and adoption of Cmocka framework. Tree has new directory tests/, which comprises infrastructure and examples of unit tests. See Unit testing coreboot for the design document.

Final Notes

Your favorite new feature or supported board didn’t make it to the release notes? They’re maintained collaboratively in the coreboot tree, so when you land something noteworthy don’t be shy, contribute to the upcoming release’s document in Documentation/releases!

Implementing support for advanced DPTF policy in Linux

Intel's Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework (DPTF) is a feature that's becoming increasingly common on highly portable Intel-based devices. The adaptive policy it implements is based around the idea that thermal management of a system is becoming increasingly complicated - the appropriate set of cooling constraints to place on a system may differ based on a whole bunch of criteria (eg, if a tablet is being held vertically rather than lying on a table, it's probably going to be able to dissipate heat more effectively, so you should impose different constraints). One way of providing these criteria to the OS is to embed them in the system firmware, allowing an OS-level agent to read that and then incorporate OS-level knowledge into a final policy decision. Unfortunately, while Intel have released some amount of support for DPTF on Linux, they haven't included support for the adaptive policy. And even more annoyingly, many modern laptops run in a heavily conservative thermal state if the OS doesn't support the adaptive policy, meaning that the CPU throttles down extremely quickly and the laptop runs excessively slowly. It's been a while since I really got stuck into a laptop reverse engineering project, and I don't have much else to do right now, so I've been working on this. It's been a combination of examining what source Intel have released, reverse engineering the Windows code and staring hard at hex dumps until they made some sort of sense. Here's where I am. There's two main components to the adaptive policy - the adaptive conditions table (APCT) and the adaptive actions table (APAT). The adaptive conditions table contains a set of condition sets, with up to 10 conditions in each condition set. A condition is something like "is the battery above a certain charge", "is this temperature sensor below a certain value", "is the lid open or closed", "is the machine upright or horizontal" and so on. Each condition set is evaluated in turn - if all the conditions evaluate to true, the condition set's target is implemented. If not, we move onto the next condition set. There will typically be a fallback condition set to catch the case where none of the other condition sets evaluate to true. The action table contains sets of actions associated with a specific target. Once we've picked a target by evaluating the conditions, we execute the actions that have a corresponding target. Actions are things like "Set the CPU power limit to this value" or "Load a passive policy table". Passive policy tables are simply tables associating sensors with devices and an associated temperature limit. If the limit is exceeded, the associated device should be asked to reduce its heat output until the situation is resolved. There's a couple of twists. The first is the OEM conditions. These are conditions that refer to values that are exposed by the firmware and are otherwise entirely opaque - the firmware knows what these mean, but we don't, so conditions that rely on these values are magical. They could be temperature, they could be power consumption, they could be SKU variations. We just don't know. The other is that older versions of the APCT table didn't include a reference to a device - ie, if you specified a condition based on a temperature, you had no way to express which temperature sensor to use. So, instead, you specified a condition that's greater than 0x10000, which tells the agent to look at the APPC table to extract the device and the appropriate actual condition. Intel already have a Linux app called Thermal Daemon that implements a subset of this - you're supposed to run the binary-only dptfxtract against your firmware to parse a few bits of the DPTF tables, and it writes out an XML file that Thermal Daemon makes use of. Unfortunately it doesn't handle most of the more interesting bits of the adaptive performance policy, so I've spent the past couple of days extending it to do so and to remove the proprietary dependency. My current work is here - it requires a couple of kernel patches (that are in the patches directory), and it only supports a very small subset of the possible conditions. It's also entirely possible that it'll do something inappropriate and cause your computer to melt - none of this is publicly documented, I don't have access to the spec and you're relying on my best guesses in a lot of places. But it seems to behave roughly as expected on the one test machine I have here, so time to get some wider testing? comment count unavailable comments

Announcing coreboot 4.11

The coreboot project is proud to announce to have released coreboot 4.11.

This release cycle was a bit shorter to get closer to our regular schedule of releasing in spring and autumn.

Since 4.10 there were 1630 new commits by over 130 developers. Of these, about 30 contributed to coreboot for the first time.

Thank you to all contributors who made 4.11 what it is and welcome to the project to all new contributors!

Clean Up

The past few months saw lots of cleanup across the source tree:

The included headers in source files were stripped down to avoid reading unused headers, and unused code fragments, duplicate preprocessor symbols and configuration options were eliminated. Even ACPI got its share of attention, making our tables and bytecode more standards compliant than ever.

The code across Intel’s chipsets was unified some more into drivers for common function blocks, an effort we’re more confident will succeed now that Intel itself is driving it.

Chipset work

Most activity in the last couple months was on Intel support, specifically the Kaby Lake and Cannon Lake drivers were extended for the generations following them.

On ARM, the Mediatek 8173 chipset support saw significant work while the AMD side worked on getting Picasso support in.

But everything else also saw some action, the relatively old (e.g. Intel GM45, Via VX900), the tiny (RISC-V) and the obscure (Quark).

Verified Boot

The vboot feature that Chromebooks brought into coreboot was extended to work on devices that weren’t specially adapted for it: In addition to its original device family it’s now supported on various Lenovo laptops, Open Compute Project systems and Siemens industrial machines.

Eltan’s support for measured boot continues to be integrated with vboot, sharing data structures and generally working together where possible.

New devices

With 4.11 there’s the beginning of support for Intel Tiger Lake and Qualcomm’s SC7180 SoCs, while we removed the unmaintained support for Allwinner’s A10 SoC.

There are also 25 new mainboards in our tree:

  • LENOVO R60
  • LENOVO T410
  • LENOVO X301

In addition to the Cubieboard (which uses the A10 SoC), we also removed Google Hatch WHL.


Because there was only a single developer board (AMD Torpedo) using AGESA family 12h, and because there were multiple, unique Coverity issues with it, the associated vendorcode will be removed shortly after this release.

Support for the MIPS architecture will also be removed shortly after this release as the only board in the tree was a discontinued development board and no other work has picked up MIPS support, so it’s very likely broken already.

After more than a year of planning and following the announcement in coreboot 4.10, platforms not using relocatable ramstage, a C bootblock and, on systems using Cache as RAM, a postcar stage, won’t be supported going forward.

Significant changes

__PRE_RAM__ is deprecated

Preprocessor use of defined(__PRE_RAM__) have been mostly replaced with if (ENV_ROMSTAGE_OR_BEFORE) or the inverse if (ENV_RAMSTAGE).

The remaining cases and -D__PRE_RAM__ are to be removed soon after release.

__BOOTBLOCK__ are converted

This applies to all ENV_xxx definitions found in <rules.h>.

Write code without preprocessor directives whenever possible, replacing #ifdef __BOOTBLOCK__ with if (ENV_BOOTBLOCK)

In cases where preprocessor is needed use #if ENV_BOOTBLOCK instead.

CAR_GLOBAL is removed where possible

For all platform code with NO_CAR_GLOBAL_MIGRATION=y, any CAR_GLOBAL attributes have been removed. Remaining cases from common code are to be removed soon after release.

TSEG and cbmem_top() mapping

Significant refactoring has bee done to achieve some consistency across platforms and to reduce code duplication.

Build system amenities

The build system now has an all class of source files to remove the need to list source files for each and every source class (romstage, ramstage, …)

The site-local/ mechanism became more robust.

Stricter coding standards to improve security

The build now fails on variable length arrays (that make it way too easy to smash a stack) and case statements falling through without a note that it is intentional.

Shorter file headers

This project is still under way, but we started moving author information from individual files into the global AUTHORS file (and there’s the git history for more details).

In the future, we also want to replace the license headers (lots of lines) in each file with spdx identifiers (one line) and so we added a LICENSES/ directory that contains the full text of all the licenses that are used throughout our tree.

Variant creation scripts

To ease the creation of variant boards, util/mainboard/ now contains scripts to generate a new variant to a given board. These are still specific to google/hatch at this time, but they’re written with the idea of becoming more generally useful.


Payload integration has been updated, coreinfo learned to cope with UPPER CASE commands and libpayload knows how to deal with USB3 hubs.

Added VBOOT support to the following platforms:

  • intel/gm45
  • intel/nehalem

Moved the following platforms to C_ENVIRONMENT_BOOTBLOCK:

  • intel/i945
  • intel/x4x
  • intel/gm45
  • intel/nehalem
  • intel/sandybridge
  • intel/braswell


Most notable, dynamic CDClk configuration was added to libgfxinit, to support higher resolution displays without changes in the static configuration. It also received some fixes for better DP and eDP compatibility, better error recovery for Intel’s fickle GMBus and updated platform support:

  • Correct HDMI clock limit for G45.
  • DP support for Ibex Peak (Ironlake graphics).
  • Fixed scaling on eDP for Broadwell.
  • Support for ULX variants of Haswell and later.
  • Support for Kaby, Amber, Coffee and Whiskey Lake.


  • Did cleanups around TSC timer
  • Improved automatic VR configuration on SKL/KBL
  • Filled additional fields in SMBIOS type 4
  • Removed magic value replay from Intel Nehalem/ibexpeak code base
  • Added OpenSBI on RISCV platforms
  • Did more preparations for Intel TXT support
  • Did more preparations for x86_64 stage support
  • Added SSDT generator for arbitrary SuperIO chips based on devicetree.cb

Extending proprietary PC embedded controller firmware

I'm still playing with my X210, a device that just keeps coming up with new ways to teach me things. I'm now running Coreboot full time, so the majority of the runtime platform firmware is free software. Unfortunately, the firmware that's running on the embedded controller (a separate chip that's awake even when the rest of the system is asleep and which handles stuff like fan control, battery charging, transitioning into different power states and so on) is proprietary and the manufacturer of the chip won't release data sheets for it. This was disappointing, because the stock EC firmware is kind of annoying (there's no hysteresis on the fan control, so it hits a threshold, speeds up, drops below the threshold, turns off, and repeats every few seconds - also, a bunch of the Thinkpad hotkeys don't do anything) and it would be nice to be able to improve it. A few months ago someone posted a bunch of fixes, a Ghidra project and a kernel patch that lets you overwrite the EC's code at runtime for purposes of experimentation. This seemed promising. Some amount of playing later and I'd produced a patch that generated keyboard scancodes for all the missing hotkeys, and I could then use udev to map those scancodes to the keycodes that the thinkpad_acpi driver would generate. I finally had a hotkey to tell me how much battery I had left. But something else included in that post was a list of the GPIO mappings on the EC. A whole bunch of hardware on the board is connected to the EC in ways that allow it to control them, including things like disabling the backlight or switching the wifi card to airplane mode. Unfortunately the ACPI spec doesn't cover how to control GPIO lines attached to the embedded controller - the only real way we have to communicate is via a set of registers that the EC firmware interprets and does stuff with. One of those registers in the vendor firmware for the X210 looked promising, with individual bits that looked like radio control. Unfortunately writing to them does nothing - the EC firmware simply stashes that write in an address and returns it on read without parsing the bits in any way. Doing anything more with them was going to involve modifying the embedded controller code. Thankfully the EC has 64K of firmware and is only using about 40K of that, so there's plenty of room to add new code. The problem was generating the code in the first place and then getting it called. The EC is based on the CR16C architecture, which binutils supported until 10 days ago. To be fair it didn't appear to actually work, and binutils still has support for the more generic version of the CR16 family, so I built a cross assembler, wrote some assembly and came up with something that Ghidra was willing to parse except for one thing. As mentioned previously, the existing firmware code responded to writes to this register by saving it to its RAM. My plan was to stick my new code in unused space at the end of the firmware, including code that duplicated the firmware's existing functionality. I could then replace the existing code that stored the register value with code that branched to my code, did whatever I wanted and then branched back to the original code. I hacked together some assembly that did the right thing in the most brute force way possible, but while Ghidra was happy with most of the code it wasn't happy with the instruction that branched from the original code to the new code, or the instruction at the end that returned to the original code. The branch instruction differs from a jump instruction in that it gives a relative offset rather than an absolute address, which means that branching to nearby code can be encoded in fewer bytes than going further. I was specifying the longest jump encoding possible in my assembly (that's what the :l means), but the linker was rewriting that to a shorter one. Ghidra was interpreting the shorter branch as a negative offset, and it wasn't clear to me whether this was a binutils bug or a Ghidra bug. I ended up just hacking that code out of binutils so it generated code that Ghidra was happy with and got on with life. Writing values directly to that EC register showed that it worked, which meant I could add an ACPI device that exposed the functionality to the OS. My goal here is to produce a standard Coreboot radio control device that other Coreboot platforms can implement, and then just write a single driver that exposes it. I wrote one for Linux that seems to work. In summary: closed-source code is more annoying to improve, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. Also, strange Russians on forums make everything easier. comment count unavailable comments