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Controlling the Bootstrap Process: Firmware Alternatives for an x86 Embedded Platform
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Mathematics and Computer Science, Department of Information Technology.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The viability of firmware engineering on a lower-tier computer manufacturer (OEM) level, where the OEM receives processor and chipset components second hand, was investigated. It was believed that safer and more reliable operation of an embedded system would be achieved if system startup times were minimised. Theoretical knowledge of firmware engineering, methods and standards for the x86 platform was compiled and evaluated. The practical aspects of firmware engineering were investigated through the construction of an open source boot loader for a rugged, closed-box embedded x86 Intel system using Coreboot and Seabios. The boot loader was compared with the original firmware and the startup times were found to be reduced ninefold from entry vector to operating system handover. Firmware engineering was found to be a complex field stretching from computer science to electrical engineering. Firmware development on a lower-tier OEM level was found to be possible, provided that the proper documentation could be obtained. To this end, the boot loader prototype was proof of concept. This allowed an alternative, open-source oriented model for firmware development to be proposed. Ultimately, each product use case needed to be individually evaluated in terms of requirements, cost and ideology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 61 p.
UPTEC F, ISSN 1401-5757 ; 11064
Keyword [en]
x86, firmware, BIOS, boot loader
National Category
Computer Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-164710OAI: diva2:469328
Educational program
Master Programme in Engineering Physics
Available from: 2012-01-03 Created: 2011-12-22 Last updated: 2012-01-03Bibliographically approved

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