Bootloader

embassy-boot a lightweight bootloader supporting firmware application upgrades in a power-fail-safe way, with trial boots and rollbacks.

The bootloader can be used either as a library or be flashed directly if you are happy with the default configuration and capabilities.

By design, the bootloader does not provide any network capabilities. Networking capabilities for fetching new firmware can be provided by the user application, using the bootloader as a library for updating the firmware, or by using the bootloader as a library and adding this capability yourself.

The bootloader supports both internal and external flash by relying on the embedded-storage traits.

Hardware support

The bootloader supports

  • nRF52 with and without softdevice

  • STM32 L4, WB, WL, L1, L0, F3, F7 and H7

In general, the bootloader works on any platform that implements the embedded-storage traits for its internal flash, but may require custom initialization code to work.

Design

Bootloader flash layout

The bootloader divides the storage into 4 main partitions, configurable when creating the bootloader instance or via linker scripts:

  • BOOTLOADER - Where the bootloader is placed. The bootloader itself consumes about 8kB of flash.

  • ACTIVE - Where the main application is placed. The bootloader will attempt to load the application at the start of this partition. This partition is only written to by the bootloader.

  • DFU - Where the application-to-be-swapped is placed. This partition is written to by the application.

  • BOOTLOADER STATE - Where the bootloader stores the current state describing if the active and dfu partitions need to be swapped. When the new firmware has been written to the DFU partition, a flag is set to instruct the bootloader that the partitions should be swapped.

The partitions for ACTIVE (+BOOTLOADER), DFU and BOOTLOADER_STATE may be placed in separate flash. The page size used by the bootloader is determined by the lowest common multiple of the ACTIVE and DFU page sizes. The BOOTLOADER_STATE partition must be big enough to store one word per page in the ACTIVE and DFU partitions combined.

The bootloader has a platform-agnostic part, which implements the power fail safe swapping algorithm given the boundaries set by the partitions. The platform-specific part is a minimal shim that provides additional functionality such as watchdogs or supporting the nRF52 softdevice.