Project Ideas

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The following are some ideas that have come up in the community. Some are more or less suitable for GSoC and prospective students' application should expand on some ideas and pair back others.

Linux Firmware Kit, BITS

There are various test suites for firmware aspects, esp. those that interacts with the operating systems. Unfortunately, some of these projects are dead, some seem to be forked and developed semi-publically, and having all that stuff in lots of different places is a big hassle.

The goal of this project is to pick up the pieces, and create a single tool (most likely a bootable CD/USB drive image) that can be booted on vendor BIOS (for the Red Hat and Canonical developers that work on these) as well as coreboot (preferably seabios and FILO to improve testability - is an issue created/fixed by coreboot or seabios?). This can then be improved in various ways.

There's also intel-gpu-tools that might have some useful tests (at least for intel-boards): http://article.gmane.org/gmane.comp.video.dri.devel/63948

When applying for this task, please state in your proposal what you think might be worthy extensions to the existing tests.

Required knowledge for this task: Not so much coreboot/firmware level, but you should have some idea of the boot process of a Linux system (as these test suites are mostly Linux based). GSoC probably won't provide enough time to learn all that (Linux boot process, firmware interfaces such as ACPI) and still develop the tools in some useful way.

Further reading: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Kernel/Reference/fwts http://biosbits.org/ http://linuxfirmwarekit.org/

Infrastructure for automatic code checking

We already have a build bot that builds various configurations of coreboot. It would be nice to extend it with various code validation routines, for example:

  • Validate that there's no regression in doxygen documentation (eg. are all arguments to functions still explained in @param tags, eg. after new arguments were added?)
  • Make code lint clean (and maybe extend lint to not fall into our traps), and run lint over the tree. Report regressions
  • Use LLVM's static code checking facilities, report regressions.
  • Work on code coverage support for coreboot code (dump data into ram, or via serial. Provide tools to fetch it). Analyse that data.

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coreboot test suite

Create a test suite to gather and report coreboot mainboard and payload settings. This project may leverage libpayload, coreinfo, memtest86, BITS, and other tools like benchmarks for CPU and RAM performance. The user Konstantin Aladyshev reported according to the benchmark STREAM, RAM access on his system with coreboot is four times slower than with the proprietary vendor BIOS. Such issues should be easily spotted with the test suite.

The suite should gather result and report them at summary and detailed levels. The goal is to help coreboot developers identify problems and to test coreboot features. This project should work closely with the testing rig and test reporting projects. It is important the the student considers how testing and reporting can be extended as features and tests are added in the future.

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coreboot cheap testing rig

The goal of this project is to create a cheap testing rig which works with the existing board test infrastructure. We have a hardware test system since 2006:

The initial version of our testing rig used a remote power switch and was rather expensive. With cheaper technologies such as X10, it's possible to drop the testing costs per board significantly.

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coreboot mainboard test result reporting

One of the biggest challenges in coreboot is support many systems in the same codebase. As systems age and coreboot continues to develop, the condition of mainboards becomes unknown. This project would define a coreboot test results reporting mechanism, gather data, and report passing and failing systems on a webpage. This project would work closely with the coreboot test suite project and/or the hardware test rig project. A good example of test results gathering and reporting is done by the Phoronix/Openbenchmark. The student should investigate other test and reporting solutions to leverage the best options for coreboot. It is important the the student considers how testing and reporting can be extended as features and tests are added in the future.

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coreboot ports for Family14 mainboards

Identify potential mainboards to port based on the recently released AMD Family 14 support. The goal would be to support publicly available plaftorms with a number of payloads and operating systems.

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coreboot ACPI/S3/power managment

coreboot has support for ACPI tables and S3 support for some platforms, but it is very mainboard specific. Create a generic solution for ACPI table generation and S3 support.

Mentors


coreboot port to ARM SOC's with PCIe

Xilinx Zynq-7030

Altera Cyclone V

ST spear1340


ARM SOC's with PCIe are available. These systems can take advantage of coreboot's strength in properly configuring PCI devices, fast boot time and payload support.

Note that coreboot has in the past supported three different CPUs (x86, Alpha, PPC), so the structure is there for adding in a new processor family. We will need to find the right platform to do the work, but I (Ron) can provide a board and JTAG debugger if needed.

There was an ARM project started in 2011.

http://blogs.coreboot.org/blog/2011/05/11/gsoc2011-project-porting-coreboot-to-arm-architecture/

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coreboot panic room

Create a safe boot solution for coreboot to easily and cheaply recover the system in case of a panic().

Ron would like to base this solution around SerialICE. The basic idea is that the system always boots to SerialICE. There is a test in CMOS for 'last boot worked' and, if this is set, SerialICE finds a coreboot in cbfs and runs it. If 'last boot worked' is not set, or the user hits some magic keyboard sequence, SerialICE takes control.

SerialICE needs to be extended (not much) to make this work. Having this capability would make it possible for Ron to get some very hard ports working that are just not possible today. At the same time, there are lots of hardware boards to test this idea on, so it should be easy to get it working.

It might be possible to integrate this into the coreboot build as a bootblock option (in the same spot as the fallback/normal switch and the simple loader).


There was a panic room project started in 2011 http://blogs.coreboot.org/blog/2011/05/09/gsoc-project-coreboot-panic-room-diagnostics-also-remote-flashing/

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Board config infrastructure

Design data structures that host information about the board layout so coreboot can better initialize components and generate all kinds of tables (mptable, pirq, acpi, ...) from that dynamically (at build or runtime, as appropriate). Adapt boards to use that instead of the current hardcodes.

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Refactor AMD code

AMD K8 and AMD Fam10 are different enough to have their own code. This is unfortunate, as you have to decide which CPU type you use in a given mainboard. Refactor AMD code so a single image can support both chip types on a given board. Also move tables from get_bus_conf and the like to the device tree or kconfig options (or runtime detection), as appropriate.

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