[coreboot] [RFC] SMM handling and resident coreboot
stepan at coresystems.de
Sun Jul 27 16:36:33 CEST 2008
I have been working on an SMM handler for coreboot in the last week, so
we can support laptops and mainboards with power management features
that are hard or impossible to support in the near future.
The SMM handler I wrote switches to 32bit protected mode and all SMI#
handling is written in C code, compiled with normal gcc without the
gcc16 hack or similar nasty things. Thus it is just another exception
handler, like the ones we have in coreboot already.
One difference is that the SMM handler stays operational once the OS is
loaded. The SMM stub living at 0xa8000 currently jumps to the C handler
in normal coreboot code in ram, which starts at _RAMBASE. So in order to
be able to use the SMM handler, that memory (code, data, bss, and heap;
not the stack) needs to stay in place and untouched for the current
scenario to work.
Now, memory consumption of the ram part of coreboot is quite tough:
On an example mainboard, I get these values:
Usually code starts at 0x4000 (_RAMBASE) and, in the above example,
reaches up to 0x3e000, occupying almost 4 64k "segments" (0x3a000/237568
My first thought was: we could add that memory as reserved in the
coreboot table / e820. coreboot keeps a lot of information in memory
already, and expects the OS / payload to take care it is not overwritten:
- dsdt, and the other ACPI tables
- DMI (required for ACPI on 32bit systems with newer Linux kernels)
- i remember some ebda issues in the last few days on this list, too
- last but not least of course the coreboot table.
So far, coreboot has been "tricking around" to put these in places that
don't hurt and where the OS is going to find them. This worked in a
rough-and-ready manner but will fail us in the future, at least make us
stay quick'n'dirty fixing after every occurence of a problem.
But to conclude, keeping (parts of) coreboot resident in memory is
nothing that SMM would introduce. We have been doing this for many years.
Another alternative to keeping full coreboot around, would be to make
the SMM handler self contained. This would mean, the SMM handler could
not use coreboot's functions like printk_debug, pci_read_config32, it
could not use the device tree, and it would become more complex, because
for some information we have to reprobe the hardware, or parse the
In the case of the SMM handler, this would also confine us, because the
actual SMI# handling code (written in C) would not be shared between
CPUs but has to be duplicated for every CPU core. However, my current
approach only keeps a very small amount of code per CPU, that is just
enough to enter gcc compiled functions and return from them, cleanly.
One of the questions in my mind is: where should we put the coreboot
image, if we want to keep it around?
A little excerpt from coreboot v2:
I know the problem of where to put coreboot has been thought about
before, elfboot() relocates coreboot to another place when loading an
ELF binary that demands the space where coreboot lives:
* coreboot tries to load a segment and finds out, that it is in the way.
* coreboot copies itself to a new position
* coreboot jumps into the assembler handler in jmp_to_elf_entry at the
* coreboot tries to start the ELF binary.
* If it fails, it overwrites the loaded ELF binary by copying itself
back and jumping to the original position.
This is quite an interesting concept, but it also makes clear that the
ram portion of coreboot itself ("stage2") can not be relocated freely in
Since we know how big our RAM is when we copy coreboot to RAM, I suggest
that we copy coreboot to the end of memory and run it from there. It is
a pretty good assumption that no payload will require that space. During
memory map creation, we just reserve 256k at the upper end, and we're good.
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