Design

Debug platform captures "an eternity in the boot process"

13th August 2015
Mick Elliott

The first debug platform to provide real insight from Intel Trace Hub to debug the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) that initialises system hardware and software has been introduced by Asset InterTech. SourcePoint can tap into both hardware and software sources of trace information to show engineers the exact code execution flow and system message execution information. 

It extracts information from hardware sources, including Intel Processor Trace (PT), and instrumented software to debug C code written for UEFI, the replacement for BIOS boot code.

Debugging the system’s initialisation process can be very time consuming due to the sheer volume of code and the interaction of that code – software-to-software and software-to-hardware – in the system.

“The key to debugging UEFI is whether the debugger can examine the boot process so the engineer can see what’s going on,” said Larry Osborn, ASSET’s SourcePoint product manager. “Currently, the only things engineers can see are LEDs, hex displays showing POST codes or console debug print output. All of these assume that certain resources in the system are functional, but, until the system boots, they’re not. SourcePoint, with Trace Hub, is able to capture potentially seconds worth of code execution – an eternity in the boot process – as well as the associated data traffic and then present this information in a human-understandable form in its trace viewer. Until SourcePoint, no other debugger has been able to do this.”

Intel recently introduced Trace Hub for debugging systems based on its sixth generation Intel Core processors. Trace Hub captures trace data from various internal sources. This data can show the interaction between hardware and software, and the complex behaviors that result.

Trace Hub  uses the Mobile Industry Processor Interface’s (MIPI) System Trace Protocol (STPv2.1) to stream the information to memory or a USB3 port for processing by third-party debugging tools.

SourcePoint is the first such tool to take advantage of Trace Hub’s access to both hardware and software sources of trace information, giving engineers visibility into both UEFI code execution and various aspects of system execution like Management Engine (ME) messages during boot up. Both software and hardware sources of trace data are critical for finding the root causes of problems quickly.

 

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