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update bootloader veresion

Newport U-Boot Bootloader

Gateworks supports the U-Boot Bootloader for the Newport product family. We provide pre-built firmware images (see here) as well as source for building and/or modifying it yourself.

One of the primary features of the Bootloader is to provide access to the hwconfig environment variable that the firmware uses for initial board configuration on power-up.

Pre-Built U-Boot Firmware

Pre-Built U-Boot is contained inside of the Gateworks Newport boot firmware artifact here:


The U-Boot version used on the Newport boards is v2019.10 Source code is located here:

Restoring defaults

The Newport boot firmware has a copy of the original U-Boot env that was created during build time.

To restore default bootloader environment variables:

  • At the "Hit any key to stop autoboot:" prompt press any key.
  • Execute the following command:
    run restore_env && reset


The U-Boot Bootloader by convention provides a hwconfig environment variable which is used by the boot firmware (before U-Boot is loaded and executed) to configure board options at power-up. These options can include things such as:

  • miniPCIe socket functions (ie PCIe vs mSATA vs USB3.0)
  • serial configuration (ie RS232 vs RS485)

hwconfig: miniPCIe Socket Configuration

Newport board model socket options:

  • GW640x:
    • J9: USB2 and PCI (for build option for Mezzanine connector contact sales@…)
    • J10: PCI or SATA and optional USB2 (USB2 option removes it from top front panel USB connector)
    • J11: USB2 and PCI
    • J12: USB2 and USB3
  • GW630x:
    • J9: USB2 and PCI (for build option for Mezzanine connector contact sales@…)
    • J10: USB2 and PCI or SATA
    • J11: USB2 and PCI or USB3
  • GW620x:
    • J6: USB2 and PCI or USB3
    • J8: USB2 and PCI or SATA
  • GW610x:
    • J6: USB2 and PCI or SATA

Note that as PCIe, USB3.0 SS, and SATA share signals so if multiple options exist you must choose between them on those sockets using the hwconfig bootloader env variable.

If a socket is not specified in hwconfig then the PCI option will be the default.

You can get/set the hwconfig variable within the U-Boot bootloader but you must reboot the board for it to take effect as the variable is acted upon in the Secondary Program Loader (SPL).


  • GW620x:
    • J6 USB3 (removes PCI)
      setenv hwconfig 'j6:usb3'; saveenv
    • J6 PCIe and USB2 (removes USB3)
      setenv hwconfig ; saveenv
  • GW640x:
    • J10 SATA
      setenv hwconfig 'j10:sata'; saveenv
    • J10 PCIe and USB2 (removes USB2 from top front panel USB connector)
      setenv hwconfig 'j10:pci,usb2'; saveenv
  • GW630x:
    • J10 PCIe, J11 PCIe (default)
      setenv hwconfig 'j10:pci;j11:pci'; saveenv
    • J10 mSATA, J11 USB3.0
      setenv hwconfig 'j10:sata;j11:usb3'; saveenv
    • J9/J10 disabled, J11 PCIe
      setenv hwconfig 'j9:disabled;j10:disabled;j11:pci'; saveenv

You can see that the hwconfig configuration took place by watching the output of the BDK during boot. For example:

Gateworks Newport SPL (3442703 Wed Jun 6 20:26:30 UTC 2018)

GSC     : v52 0xbf2d WDT:disabled board temp:38C
RTC     : 506646
Model   : GW6304-C
MFGDate : 03-28-2018
Serial  : 776375
DTB     : gw6304.dtb
SoC     : CN8030-1500BG676-SCP-P12-G 1024KB 1500/550MHz 0xa2 Pass 1.2
MMC0    : eMMC
MMC1    : not detected
Boot    : eMMC non-trusted
DRAM    : 2048 MB, 1333 MT/s, DDR4 UDIMM
J9      : PCI
J10     : SATA
J11     : USB3
QLM0    : PCIE_1X1@5000MHz
QLM1    : SGMII_1X1@1250MHz
QLM2    : DISABLED@5000MHz
QLM3    : SATA_2X1@6000MHz
Serial  : 2x RS232 without flow control
Hit any key to stop autoboot:  0
GW6304-C> print hwconfig
  • The above shows that J9 is configured for PCI, J10 for SATA, and J11 for USB3

Note that hwconfig is also used for serial configuration so care should be taken to preserve that configuration if used

hwconfig: serial Configuration

Many boards in the Newport product family provide a 5-pin off-board serial connector that provides the following options:

  • 1x RS485 FD (UART2)
  • 1x RS485 HD (UART2)
  • 1x RS232 w/ hardware flow control (UART2)
  • 2x RS232 w/o hardware flow control (UART2/UART3)

By default 2x RS232 with no flow control is enabled. To configure a different option use the hwconfig U-Boot env variable. The mode property of the serial option defines the initial configuration of the serial port(s). If RS485 is selected by the mode property the term property will select whether or not on-board termination is enabled.

The mode property can have the following values:

  • rs232 - 2x RS232 (UART2/UART3) without hardware flow control (default if not specified)
  • rs232_dtr - RS232 (UART2) with hardware flow control
  • rs485_hd - RS485 half-duplex
  • rs485_fd - RS485 full-duplex


  • Note that setting hwconfig currently requires saveenv to be ran twice
  • Enable RS485 half duplex no on-board termination
    setenv hwconfig "serial:mode=rs485_hd,term=no"; saveenv; saveenv
  • Enable RS485 full duplex with on-board termination
    setenv hwconfig "serial:mode=rs485_fd,term=yes"; saveenv; saveenv
  • Enable RS232 with hardware flow-control:
    setenv hwconfig "serial:mode=rs232_dtr"; saveenv; saveenv

Note that hwconfig is also used for pcie configuration so care should be taken to preserve that configuration if used

Distro Config

The Newport Bootloader uses U-Boot's 'Distro Config' which is a well defined U-Boot env intended to make it easier for distro maintainers to develop compatible bootscripts. This primarily entails a set of 'boot scripts' and variables that control them.

Ultimately this U-Boot environment is looking for a U-Boot boot script on a 'bootable' partition (partitions with the 'boot' flag enabled). It searches in this order with these rules:

  • boot_targets - list of target device type/nums to search: defaults to mmc0 mmc1 usb0 sata0
  • devplist - dynamically created list of all partitions flagged as 'bootable'
  • boot_prefixes - list of directories within a partition searched for bootscripts
  • boot_scripts - list of boot script names searched for

Boot Scripts

When writing bootscripts compatible with Distro Config you can assume the following env variables:

  • devtype - the device type the script was loaded from (mmc|usb|sata)
  • devnum - the device number the script was loaded from (ie 0 for mmc0, 1 for mmc1, etc)
  • distro_bootpart - the partition number the script was loaded from (ie 0, 1, etc)
  • fdtcontroladdr - the address the device-tree is at (Note that the Newport bootloader does not load/manipulate the device-tree itself - this is done by the SPL which loads/manipulates the device-tree and passes it to the bootloader)
  • kernel_addr_r - address where kernel can be loaded
  • bootargs - default bootargs to pass to the kernel - you probably want to add to this and not overwrite it
  • console - the serial console device to pass to the kernel

Additionally you should note the following:

  • use load/ls/save commands which support FAT/ext filesystem types automatically instead of the fs specific commands
  • if using a root filesystem that is not supported by the bootloader (ie F2FS or BTRFS) you can place your bootscript and kernel image in the FAT12 filesystem on partition 1 of the boot device. This filesystem is part of the 16MB 'Boot Firmware' image. If doing so you will need to compress the kernel and package it into a FIT image in order to fit it in the available space.

The Distro-Config environment supports legacy uImage scripts (it does not support FIT images with scripts). You can create these with the mkimage tool from U-Boot as such:

mkimage -A arm64 -T script -C none -d ubuntu.txt newport.scr

The bootscript can be updated at runtime on the target. For example:

mkimage -A arm64 -T script -C none -d ubuntu.txt /boot/newport.scr

If storing the bootscript on the embedded FATFS partition (which would make sense if your root filesystem is something that is not supported by the Bootloader such as F2FS or BTRFS):

  • You can update the bootscript uImage newport.scr in the boot firmware:
    fatfs-tool -i firmware-newport.img cp newport.scr /
  • You can udpate the bootscript uImage newport.scr on a live target via:
    mount /dev/mmcblk0p1 /mnt
    mkimage -A arm64 -T script -C none -d ubuntu.txt /mnt/newport.scr

Boot Device Order (boot_targets)

While the Newport product family can only boot its Boot Firmware from an MMC device (ie eMMC or microSD), once you are booted to the bootloader you can choose from a wider variety of devices to boot the OS from.

This OS boot device order is specified by the Distro Config environment. Specifically it is controlled by the boot_targets env variable which defaults to mmc0 mmc1 usb0 sata0.

For example, to limit OS booting to only SATA:

setenv boot_targets sata0

Flattened Image Tree (FIT) images

The U-Boot bootloader supports Flattened Image Tree (FIT) images which expand greatly on the legacy U-Boot image (uImage) format by allowing multiple binary blobs within an image. These blobs can be kernel images, ramdisk images, device-tree blobs, and bootloader scripts. Each image can also be optionally compressed (meaning U-Boot will decompress it) and check-sumed with a variety of hash mechanisms (meaning U-Boot will verify the image before using it).

Quick summary of FIT Images:

  • introduced to resolve limitations with original single-image formats and follow-on multi-image format supported by UBoot bootm (boot memory)
  • uses power of the Device-Tree-Compiler (DTC)
  • FIT .itb files can be created with mkimage by passing in a .its file which in device-tree notation describes the images
  • U-Boot supports FIT with several commands:
    • source <addr>:<name> # source a script by name from FIT image in memory
    • iminfo <fitaddress> # print all the info contained in a FIT image in memory and verify (just not boot it)
    • imextract <fitaddress> <item> <addr> # extract item (ie kernel@1) to addr
    • bootm <fitaddress>[#conf] - $fdtcontroladdr # boot default or 'conf' configuration (ie #config@1)
    • bootm start <fitaddress>[#conf] - $fdtcontroladdr # boot from memory a specific configuration (or default configuration) from FIT image


  • kernel.its with a single compressed kernel for ARM64 (used by Newport)
    / {
            description = "Simple image with single Linux kernel";
            #address-cells = <1>;
            images {
                    kernel@1 {
                            description = "ThunderX kernel";
                            data = /incbin/("./Image.gz");
                            type = "kernel";
                            arch = "arm64";
                            os = "linux";
                            compression = "gzip";
                            load = <0x40080000>;
                            entry = <0x40080000>;
                            hash@1 {
                                    algo = "sha256";
            configurations {
                    default = "conf@1";
                    conf@1 {
                            description = "Boot Linux kernel";
                            kernel = "kernel@1";
  • create image:
    cp arch/arm64/boot/Image .
    gzip Image
    mkimage -f kernel.its /tftpboot/kernel.itb
  • boot the default configuration from U-Boot. For example if your using an ext4 fs on the first MMC device, 2nd partition use:
    tftpboot $loadaddr kernel.itb && setenv bootargs 'console=ttyAMA0,115200n8 earlycon=pl011,0x87e028000000 coherent_poll=64M root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 rootfstype=ext4 rootwait rw' && bootm $loadaddr - $fdtcontroladdr

Note that the Newport BSP does these steps in its 'ubuntu-image' make target uses the newport/ script to create an its file then uses this to kernel a kernel.itb. You can follow along with the and do these by hand in your Newport BSP directory:

# create kernel.itb with compressed kernel image
tar xvf linux-newport.tar.xz ./boot/Image --strip-components=2
mv Image vmlinux
gzip -f vmlinux
./newport/ -o kernel.its -k vmlinux.gz -C gzip -v "Ubuntu"
mkimage -f kernel.its kernel.itb

The Newport BSP also uses the newport/newport.env bootscript to create its kernel parameters which may be useful to understand.


U-boot tools

A detailed description of u-boot-tools usage can be found here.

In order to configure u-boot-tools to work correctly for Newport you will need a fw_env.config file the appropriate values.

This file will be downloaded as part of the Newport BSP and found in the newport/ folder.

To create this file:

cat << EOF > /etc/fw_env.config
# Device               offset          Env. size
/dev/mmcblk0           0xff0000        0x8000
/dev/mmcblk0           0xff8000        0x8000

Further information on these offsets and the adjcent data can be found here.

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