Boot Software Updates on iMX8QM

Boot artifacts

imx-boot image

imx-boot image is the first boot image container set by CSU ROM. imx-boot image consists of two containers:

  • SECO container for SECO FW
  • SCU container for SCU FW, and optinal AP IPL (Cortex A processing domain), CM4 FW and DDR init images

By default U-Boot SPL image is used as the main AP IPL image. SECO container is always signed and provided by NXP, and SCU container can be signed by OEM vendor/customer.

Here is an example of typical boot image container set layout:

|    1st Container Header   |
|    1st Signature Block    |
| Padding for 1KB alignment |
|    2nd Container Header   |
|    2nd Signature Block    |
|          SECO FW          |
|    SCU FW with DDR init   |
|          CM4 Image        |
|    Cortex-A FW (AP IPL)   |

U-Boot FIT image

U-boot FIT-image is a generic name for the signed FIT-image that contains U-Boot proper (u-boot.bin) and a host of other firmware. This file is verified by SPL via a public key stored in SPL’s dtb. This artifact may be signed (on closed boards) as a part of CI and can be included automatically in a boot software OTA package.

  • U-boot-nodtb.bin
  • U-boot.dtb
  • OP-TEE
  • Arm Trusted Firmware (ARMv8)

If the CI signing key has been rotated since the last OTA, then we need to also update the SPL.dtb verification data prior to trying to boot the new U-Boot FIT-image.

MMC boot image layout

From High Level eMMC Boot Flow Note (iMX8QM Reference manual), for the eMMC boot scenarios where the images are located in the boot partition the boot image set selection is done based on BOOT_PARTITION_ENABLE eMMC ECSD register values, which means that secondary boot image set should be flashed to boot1 hw partition to the same offset (0x0) as the primary one.

Update procedure

Primary vs Secondary boot paths

iMX8QM SoC supports two different container sets of boot images:

  • Primary Boot Container set (Set0)
  • Secondary Boot Container set (Set1) (optional)

SCU ROM reads both Image Container Set0’s and Set1’s headers, then select the container set with the newer SW version for Primary boot path and the container set with the older SW vesion for Secondary boot path. In case SW versions are equal, SCU ROM picks Set0.

Unfortunately SoC doesn’t provide any mechanisms for user to control in runtimewhat container set to boot, like setting PERSIST_SECONDARY_BOOT bit SRC_GPR10, so in our setup we don’t rely on different SW versions of Image Container Sets, and use Set0 for as Primary boot path, and Set1 as a recovery path (Secondary boot path).

register in i.MX8M.

libaktualizr and aktualizr-lite

  1. aktualizr-lite makes decision if boot firmware needs to be updated based on the contents of ${ostree_root}/usr/lib/firmware/version.txt, where ostree_root is root of newly deployed ostree sysroot. Example of contents: bootfirmware_version=10
  2. After parsing bootfirmware_version, it compares version number with the existing one, which is obtained via fiovb or ubootenv.
  3. If bootfirmware_version from version.txt is higher than existing one, aktualizr-lite sets bootupgrade_available via fiovb or ubootenv.
  4. Reboot should be performed.

U-Boot boot.cmd script

Boot firmware upgrade flow for iMX8QM

Fig. 60 Boot firmware upgrade flow for iMX8QM

  1. Actual update is done via U-Boot boot.cmd (boot.scr) script.
  2. boot.cmd script checks if primary path is booted.
  3. In case upgrade_available is set the check if boot firmware upgrade is needed is done by looking into bootupgrade_available flag. If both are true, boot firmware images are obtained from newly deployed ostree sysroot and then written to the primary boot path offsets. After that bootupgrade_primary_updated is set, and regular reset is issued.
  4. After reboot SCU ROM tries to boot newly updated images from the primary boot path (Set0). If image verification fails, it automatically will fall back to Set1. If Set1 is booted (which means that verification of Set0 failed), rollback procedure will be issued, and previous version of Set0 will be restored. If on the conntrary Set0 is booted, but bootcount hits bootlimit (that means that boot procedure haven’t finished succesfully), rollback procedure will be also issued.
  5. After Linux is booted aktualizr-lite confirms successful update by clearing upgrade_available flag. At this point new boot firmware images are already validated. Additional reboot is needed after this step.
  6. After reboot U-Boot checks if bootupgrade_primary_updated is set and upgrade_available is cleared. This means that aktualizr-lite has confirmed succesful boot, and U-Boot clears bootupgrade_primary_updated flag. Otherwise bootcount value is incremented.

Add new board


mfgtool scripts

To deploy boot images to the destination board mfgtools package is used. It uses special configuration file with uuu extensions, that contains all needed instructions for correct deployment of boot images. Current uuu files don’t support flashing images for secondary boot path, so appropriate adjustments should be made, adding secondary imx-boot and U-Boot FIT deployment steps:

+FB: flash bootloader2 ../u-boot-@@MACHINE@@.itb
+FB: flash bootloader2_s ../u-boot-@@MACHINE@@.itb

So the final uuu script looks like:

uuu_version 1.3.102

SDPS: boot -f imx-boot-mfgtool
CFG: FB: -vid 0x0525 -pid 0x4000
CFG: FB: -vid 0x0525 -pid 0x4025
CFG: FB: -vid 0x0525 -pid 0x402F
CFG: FB: -vid 0x0525 -pid 0x4030
CFG: FB: -vid 0x0525 -pid 0x4031

SDPU: delay 1000
SDPU: write -f imx-boot-mfgtool -offset 0x57c00
SDPU: jump

# These commands will be run when use SPL and will be skipped if no spl
# if (SPL support SDPV)
# {
SDPV: delay 1000
SDPV: write -f u-boot-mfgtool.itb
SDPV: jump
# }

FB: ucmd setenv fastboot_dev mmc
FB: ucmd setenv mmcdev 0
FB: ucmd mmc dev ${mmcdev} 1; mmc erase 0 0x3FFE
FB: flash -raw2sparse all ../@@MFGTOOL_FLASH_IMAGE@@-@@MACHINE@@.wic
FB: flash bootloader ../imx-boot-@@MACHINE@@
FB: flash bootloader_s ../imx-boot-@@MACHINE@@
FB: flash bootloader2 ../u-boot-@@MACHINE@@.itb
FB: flash bootloader2_s ../u-boot-@@MACHINE@@.itb
FB: ucmd mmc partconf 0 0 1 0
FB: done

lmp.cfg files

To enable support for flashing/booting secondary boot images, just adjust regular lmp.cfg and the one for mfgtools for your board enabling support of secondary boot path. These config options should be added to regular lmp.cfg:


And to mfgtool lmp.cfg:


As secondary boot path is mainly used for boot firmware update image validation, sometimes in exceptional cases it behaves incorrectly, causing hangs etc. To cover such cases watchdog support has to be enabled in SPL by adding these config options to lmp.cfg of your board:

# CONFIG_SPL_WDT is not set

Pre-load boot.cmd by SPL

As boot.cmd script depends on U-Boot cmds for booting Linux, it should be aligned with U-Boot version. By default in regular setups without boot firmware update support boot.cmd is stored in first FAT partition in eMMC/SD. So to get boot.cmd updates together with other boot software images, it should be moved from FAT partition to U-Boot FIT image. To do that edit adding this line for your board (imx8qmevk as an example):

BOOTSCR_LOAD_ADDR_imx8qmmek = "0x44800000"

This change will include Linux boot.cmd into U-Boot FIT image alongside with TF-A/OP-TEE/U-Boot proper/U-Boot dtb images. When SPL parses U-Boot FIT image (u-boot.itb) it will pre-load boot.itb (compiled and wrapped boot.cmd) to the address specified in BOOTSCR_LOAD_ADDR variable.

To let U-Boot know where to take boot script from, you should also adjust CONFIG_BOOTCOMMAND param in your U-Boot lmp.cfg of your board.

CONFIG_BOOTCOMMAND="setenv verify 1; source 0x44800000; reset"

Test basic API

After applying all updates from previous steps, we should validate that everything is in place. Basically this consists of two basic steps:

  • Boot container set detection (primary or secondary)
  • Obtain board security state (open/closed states)

So to test Boot container set detection use this U-Boot command imx_secondary_boot.

Example of test:

u-boot=> imx_secondary_boot
Secondary boot bit = 0

To check if the security status of your board is detected correctly, use imx_is_closed command:

u-boot=> imx_is_closed
Board is in open state


Currently LmP uses template-based way of generation of final boot.cmd. It’s constructed from common boot files (./meta-lmp-base/recipes-bsp/u-boot/u-boot-ostree-scr-fit/, which contains all SoC agnostic DEFINEs and common functionality, and board specific boot.cmd, which is included

Example of board boot.cmd (./meta-lmp-bsp/recipes-bsp/u-boot/u-boot-ostree-scr-fit/imx8qm-mek/boot.cmd):

setenv fdt_file imx8qm-mek.dtb
echo "Using freescale_${fdt_file}"

# Default boot type and device
setenv bootlimit 3
setenv devtype mmc
setenv devnum 0
setenv bootpart 1
setenv rootpart 2
setenv hdmi_image hdmitxfw.bin
setenv m4_0_image core0_m4_image.bin
setenv m4_1_image core1_m4_image.bin
setenv ramdisk_addr_r 0x8a000000
# enable relocation of ramdisk
setenv initrd_high

# Boot image files
setenv fit_addr ${ramdisk_addr_r}
setenv fdt_file_final freescale_${fdt_file}

setenv bootcmd_boot_hdmi 'hdp load ${loadaddr}'
setenv bootcmd_boot_m4_0 'dcache flush; bootaux ${loadaddr} 0'
setenv bootcmd_boot_m4_1 'dcache flush; bootaux ${loadaddr} 1'
setenv bootcmd_load_hdmi 'if imxtract ${ramdisk_addr_r}#conf@@FIT_NODE_SEPARATOR@@freescale_${fdt_file} loadable@@FIT_NODE_SEPARATOR@@${hdmi_image} ${loadaddr}; then run bootcmd_boot_hdmi; fi'
setenv bootcmd_load_m4_0 'if imxtract ${ramdisk_addr_r}#conf@@FIT_NODE_SEPARATOR@@freescale_${fdt_file} loadable@@FIT_NODE_SEPARATOR@@${m4_0_image} ${loadaddr}; then run bootcmd_boot_m4_0; fi;'
setenv bootcmd_load_m4_1 'if imxtract ${ramdisk_addr_r}#conf@@FIT_NODE_SEPARATOR@@freescale_${fdt_file} loadable@@FIT_NODE_SEPARATOR@@${m4_1_image} ${loadaddr}; then run bootcmd_boot_m4_1; fi;'
setenv bootcmd_load_fw 'run bootcmd_load_hdmi; run bootcmd_load_m4_0; run bootcmd_load_m4_1;'

# Boot firmware updates
setenv bootloader 0
setenv bootloader2 400
setenv bootloader_s ${bootloader}
setenv bootloader2_s ${bootloader2}
setenv bootloader_image "imx-boot"
setenv bootloader_s_image ${bootloader_image}
setenv bootloader2_image "u-boot.itb"
setenv bootloader2_s_image ${bootloader2_image}

setenv update_image_boot0 'echo "${fio_msg} writing ${image_path} ..."; run set_blkcnt && mmc dev ${devnum} 1 && mmc write ${loadaddr} ${start_blk} ${blkcnt}'
setenv update_image_boot1 'echo "${fio_msg} writing ${image_path} ..."; run set_blkcnt && mmc dev ${devnum} 2 && mmc write ${loadaddr} ${start_blk} ${blkcnt}'

setenv backup_boot0 'echo "${fio_msg} backing up primary boot image set ..."; mmc dev ${devnum} 1 && mmc read ${loadaddr} 0x0 0x3FFE && mmc dev ${devnum} 2 && mmc write ${loadaddr} 0x0 0x3FFE'
setenv restore_boot0 'echo "${fio_msg} restore primary boot image set ..."; mmc dev ${devnum} 2 && mmc read ${loadaddr} 0x0 0x3FFE && mmc dev ${devnum} 1 && mmc write ${loadaddr} 0x0 0x3FFE'

setenv update_primary_image "run update_image_boot0"
setenv update_primary_image2 "run update_image_boot0"

setenv do_reboot "reboot"


sysroot and signed boot artifacts

All boot artifacts (imx-boot and U-Boot FIT) are automatically deployed to sysroot during build time, however on closed boards, where initial boot image has to be signed in advance by a subscriber private key, there is way to add signed binary instead of automatic inclusion of unsigned boot artifacts.

To do that just lmp-boot-firmware.bbappend to your meta-subscriber-overrides layer, adding proper value of PV (boot firmware version, which will be automatically added to ${osroot}/usr/lib/firmware/version.txt file), path to signed binary and signed binary itself.


diff --git a/recipes-bsp/lmp-boot-firmware/lmp-boot-firmware.bbappend b/recipes-bsp/lmp-boot-firmware/lmp-boot-firmware.bbappend
new file mode 100644
index 0000000..6c11380
--- /dev/null
+++ b/recipes-bsp/lmp-boot-firmware/lmp-boot-firmware.bbappend
@@ -0,0 +1,7 @@
+PV = "1"
+SRC_URI = " \
+       file://imx-boot \
diff --git a/recipes-bsp/lmp-boot-firmware/lmp-boot-firmware/imx-boot b/recipes-bsp/lmp-boot-firmware/lmp-boot-firmware/imx-boot
new file mode 100644
index 0000000..50f5013
Binary files /dev/null and b/recipes-bsp/lmp-boot-firmware/lmp-boot-firmware/imx-boot differ