Build Instructions for U-Boot as coreboot payload

Building U-Boot as a coreboot payload is just like building U-Boot for targets on other architectures, like below:

$ make coreboot_defconfig
$ make all

Test with coreboot

For testing U-Boot as the coreboot payload, there are things that need be paid attention to. coreboot supports loading an ELF executable and a 32-bit plain binary, as well as other supported payloads. With the default configuration, U-Boot is set up to use a separate Device Tree Blob (dtb). As of today, the generated u-boot-dtb.bin needs to be packaged by the cbfstool utility (a tool provided by coreboot) manually as coreboot’s ‘make menuconfig’ does not provide this capability yet. The command is as follows:

# in the coreboot root directory
$ ./build/util/cbfstool/cbfstool build/coreboot.rom add-flat-binary \
  -f u-boot-dtb.bin -n fallback/payload -c lzma -l 0x1110000 -e 0x1110000

Make sure 0x1110000 matches CONFIG_TEXT_BASE, which is the symbol address of _x86boot_start (in arch/x86/cpu/start.S).

If you want to use ELF as the coreboot payload, change U-Boot configuration to use CONFIG_OF_EMBED instead of CONFIG_OF_SEPARATE.

To enable video you must enable these options in coreboot:

  • Set framebuffer graphics resolution (1280x1024 32k-color (1:5:5))

  • Keep VESA framebuffer

At present it seems that for Minnowboard Max, coreboot does not pass through the video information correctly (it always says the resolution is 0x0). This works correctly for link though.

You can run via QEMU using:

qemu-system-x86_64 -bios build/coreboot.rom -serial mon:stdio

The -serial mon:stdio part shows both output in the display and on the console. It is optional. You can add nographic as well to only get console output.

To run with a SATA drive called $DISK:

qemu-system-x86_64 -bios build/coreboot.rom -serial mon:stdio \
      -drive id=disk,file=$DISK,if=none \
      -device ahci,id=ahci \
      -device ide-hd,drive=disk,bus=ahci.0

Then you can scan it with scsi scan and access it normally.

To use 4GB of memory, typically necessary for booting Linux distros, add -m 4GB.

64-bit U-Boot

In addition to the 32-bit ‘coreboot’ build there is a ‘coreboot64’ build. This produces an image which can be booted from coreboot (32-bit). Internally it works by using a 32-bit SPL binary to switch to 64-bit for running U-Boot. It can be useful for running UEFI applications, for example with the coreboot build in $CBDIR:


cp $CBDIR/ coreboot.rom
cbfstool coreboot.rom add-flat-binary -f u-boot-x86-with-spl.bin \
   -n fallback/payload -c lzma -l 0x1110000 -e 0x1110000

qemu-system-x86_64 -m 2G -smp 4 -bios coreboot.rom \
   -drive id=disk,file=$DISK,if=none \
   -device ahci,id=ahci \
   -device ide-hd,drive=disk,bus=ahci.0 \

This allows booting and installing various distros, many of which are 64-bit-only, so cannot work with the 32-bit ‘coreboot’ build.

USB keyboard

The CONFIG_USE_PREBOOT option is enabled by default, meaning that USB starts up just before the command-line starts. This allows user interaction on non-laptop devices which use a USB keyboard.

CBFS access

You can use the ‘cbfs’ commands to access the Coreboot filesystem:

=> cbfsinit
=> cbfsinfo

CBFS version: 0x31313132
ROM size: 0x100000
Boot block size: 0x4
CBFS size: 0xffdfc
Alignment: 64
Offset: 0x200

=> cbfsls
     size              type  name
       32       cbfs header  cbfs master header
    16720                17  fallback/romstage
    53052                17  fallback/ramstage
      398               raw  config
      715               raw  revision
      117               raw  build_info
     4044               raw  fallback/dsdt.aml
      640       cmos layout  cmos_layout.bin
    17804                17  fallback/postcar
   335797           payload  fallback/payload
   607000              null  (empty)
    10752         bootblock  bootblock

12 file(s)


Memory map


Region at that address


Top of ROM (and last byte of 32-bit address space)


Typical top of memory available to U-Boot (use cbsysinfo to see where memory range ‘table’ starts)


Memory reserved by coreboot for mapping PCI devices (typical size 2151000, includes framebuffer)


CONFIG_SYS_CAR_ADDR, fake Cache-as-RAM memory, used during startup


CONFIG_TEXT_BASE (start address of U-Boot code, before reloc)


CONFIG_BLOBLIST_ADDR (before being relocated)




ACPI tables set up by U-Boot (typically redirects to 7ab10030 or similar)


Location of coreboot sysinfo table, used during startup

Debug UART

It is possible to enable the debug UART with coreboot. To do this, use the info from the cbsysinfo command to locate the UART base. For example:

=> cbsysinfo
Serial I/O port: 00000000
   base        : 00000000
   pointer     : 767b51bc
   type        : 2
   base        : fe03e000
   baud        : 0d115200
   regwidth    : 4
   input_hz    : 0d1843200
   PCI addr    : 00000010

Here you can see that the UART base is fe03e000, regwidth is 4 (1 << 2) and the input clock is 1843200. So you can add the following CONFIG options:


coreboot in CI

CI runs tests using a pre-built coreboot image. This ensures that U-Boot can boot as a coreboot payload, based on a known-good build of coreboot.

To update the coreboot.rom file which is used:

  1. Build coreboot with CONFIG_LINEAR_FRAMEBUFFER=y. If using make menuconfig this is under Devices ->Display->Framebuffer mode->Linear “high resolution” framebuffer.

  2. Compress the resulting coreboot.rom:

    xz -c /path/to/coreboot/build/coreboot.rom >coreboot.rom.xz
  3. Upload the file to Google drive

  4. Send a patch to change the file ID used by wget in the CI yaml files.