Developer Manual

From coreboot
Revision as of 21:12, 6 October 2010 by Stepan (talk | contribs) (Failover/Fallback/Normal images overview)
Jump to: navigation, search

The wiki is being retired!

Documentation is now handled by the same processes we use for code: Add something to the Documentation/ directory in the coreboot repo, and it will be rendered to Contributions welcome!

This is work in progress!

This manual is intended for aspiring coreboot developers to help them get up to speed with the code base and the tasks required to add support for new chipsets, devices, and mainboards. It covers coreboot v4.

Recommended hardware and software tools

See Developer Manual/Tools for a list of recommended tools which are useful for coreboot users and developers.

Hardware Overview

Intel Architecture

Hardware Reset

The address 0xFFFFFFF0 is beyond the 1-MByte addressable range of the processor while in real-address mode. The processor is initialized to this starting address as follows. The CS register has two parts: the visible segment selector part and the hidden base address part. In real-address mode, the base address is normally formed by shifting the 16-bit segment selector value 4 bits to the left to produce a 20-bit base address. However, during a hardware reset, the segment selector in the CS register is loaded with 0xF000 and the base address is loaded with 0xFFFF0000. The starting address is thus formed by adding the base address to the value in the EIP register (that is, 0xFFFF0000 + 0xFFF0 = 0xFFFFFFF0).
The first time the CS register is loaded with a new value after a hardware reset, the processor will follow the normal rule for address translation in real-address mode (that is, [CS base address = CS segment selector * 16]). To insure that the base address in the CS register remains unchanged until the EPROM based software-initialization code is completed, the code must not contain a far jump or far call or allow an interrupt to occur (which would cause the CS selector value to be changed).

FWH/LPC Flash Memory

Modern mainboards are often equipped with Firmware Hub (FWH) or Low Pin Count (LPC) flash memory used to store the system bootloader ("BIOS"). Execution begins by fetching instructions 16 bytes below the flash memory's uppermost physical address.

coreboot Overview

View From The CPU: Intel Architecture

  1. At 0xFFFFFFF0, start execution at reset_vector from src/cpu/x86/16bit/, which simply jumps to _start.
  2. _start from src/cpu/x86/16bit/, invalidates the TLBs, sets up a GDT for selector 0x08 (code) and 0x10 (data), switches to protected mode, and jumps to __protected_start (setting the CS to the new selector 0x08). The selectors provide full flat access to the entire physical memory map.
  3. __protected_start from src/cpu/x86/32bit/, sets all other segment registers to the 0x10 selector.
  4. Execution continues with various mainboardinit fragments:
    1. __fpu_start from cpu/x86/
    2. (unlabeled) from cpu/x86/
    3. Some CPUs enable their on-chip cache to be used temporarily as a scratch RAM (stack), e.g. cpu/amd/model_lx/
  5. The final mainboardinit fragment is mainboard-specific, in C, called romstage.c. For non-cache-as-RAM targets, it is compiled with romcc. It includes and uses other C-code fragments for:
    1. Initializing MSRs, MTTRs, APIC.
    2. Setting up the southbridge minimally ("early setup").
    3. Setting up Super I/O serial.
    4. Initializing the console.
    5. Initializing RAM controller and RAM itself.
  6. Execution continues at __main from src/arch/i386/init/, where the non-romcc C coreboot code is copied (possibly decompressed) to RAM, then the RAM entry point is jumped to.
  7. The RAM entry point is _start in arch/i386/lib/c_start.S, where new descriptor tables are set up, the stack and BSS are cleared, the IDT is initialized, and hardwaremain() is called (operation is now full 32-bit protected mode C program with stack).
  8. hardwaremain() is from boot/hardwaremain.c, the console is initialized, devices are enumerated and initialized, configured and enabled.
  9. The payload is called, either via elfboot() from boot/elfboot.c, or filo() from boot/filo.c.

Failover/Fallback/Normal images overview

See Developer Manual/Bootblock

Memory map

On x86 systems, many memory ranges are reserved for special purposes or have some other peculiar properties. The article Developer Manual/Memory map has details about this fact.

Serial output and the Super I/O

See Developer Manual/Super IO.


RAM init

See Developer Manual/RAM init.




The mainboard's devicetree.cb file contains many build and platform configuration settings. One of the most important items is the mainboard device list.

A device needs to be listed in the mainboard devicetree.cb if it requires more setup than standard PCI initialization (resource allocation). Typically, that includes the CPU, northbridge, southbridge, and Super I/O. These devices are usually required for system specific configuration as well as indicate the system bus structure (pci_domain).

When a device in devicetree.cb is found during the coreboot PCI/system scan process the functions to do customized initialization are called via the device_operations and the chip_operations structures. You will find these structures in the devices source files.


See Creating Valid IRQ Tables.

Creating a new target

To create a new mainboard target you have to add several files.

  • Multiple files in src/mainboard/vendorname/mainboardname (replace vendorname and mainboardname, of course).

Documentation and datasheets

Useful hardware/concepts documentation for developers

These external documents and slides explain fundamental concepts of hardware that coreboot supports.


System Managment Mode

Specific datasheets

See Datasheets.

GNU head This work is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or any later version. This work is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.