[coreboot] SerialICE 1.5 released - Qemu based firmware debugger

Stefan Reinauer stepan at coresystems.de
Sat Nov 21 18:21:54 CET 2009

Dear x86/x64 hardware and low-level software developers and enthusiasts!

coresystems GmbH is glad to release SerialICE 1.5:

SerialICE (http://www.serialice.com) is a BIOS/Firmware debugging tool.
It allows you to run and observe BIOS images (such as coreboot®:
http://www.coreboot.org/) written for real hardware in Qemu
(http://www.qemu.org) for debugging purposes. Thanks to Qemu's
compelling feature set, it's also possible to debug this BIOS code with

Among the new features of SerialICE version 1.5:

- Rework memory and IO filters to provide more control
- Improved PCI, PCIe and memory access logging
- Windows (MINGW and Cygwin) support
- New mainboard supported: ASUS P2B
- SerialICE connection now survives target resets
- CPUID now honors ECX values
- RDMSR/WRMSR now honor EDI unlock keys
- Add LUA patch to correctly operate on 32bit hosts
- Drop SerialICE specific machine type in Qemu

SerialICE consists of three parts:

- a serial console "rom shell" compiled with romcc, with minimal footprint.
- a patch to Qemu 0.11.0, which adds a new "SerialICE" machine.
- a LUA script that contains filters, loggers and other SerialICE
specific configuration and adaption.

SerialICE can be downloaded from http://www.serialice.com/.

With "qemu -serialice /dev/ttyS0 -L path-to-your-bios.bin-dir -hda /dev/zero"
you can run an arbitrary BIOS binary written for your target hardware
in Qemu, thus logging all IO and memory accesses. Those operations will
additionally be transmitted to the target system's shell and are executed
there, while their results are submitted back to Qemu.

Operations sent to the target:
- memory reads/writes (some of them)
- IO reads/writes
- MSR reads/writes
- CPUID calls (the bios code path might rely on this)

Note: The code is still quite experimental and only supports a few
number of mainboard out of the box, but it was already useful in some
debugging scenarios we had and was able to reveil information that would
normally only be available with a hardware debugger of the price of a
new car. Don't expect SerialICE to completely replace a ICE/JTAG/ITP
device, but it might just work for your case, as it did for us.

The ROM code needs minimal board/chipset specific setup in order to
establish serial communication with Qemu. See mainboard/* for a few
examples.  This release contains setup code for 7 mainboards.
Also, some hardware accesses have to be caught in the LUA code
(scripts/serialice.lua) in order to prevent the system from locking up
(ie. when the BIOS is disabling the serial console).

Special thanks go to Patrick Georgi and Mark Marshall for their bug fixes and contributions to
this release.

See http://www.serialice.com/ for more information.

Comments and patches are of course very welcome!

Best regards,

Stefan Reinauer

coresystems GmbH • Brahmsstr. 16 • D-79104 Freiburg i. Br.
      Tel.: +49 761 7668825 • Fax: +49 761 7664613
Email: info at coresystems.dehttp://www.coresystems.de/
Registergericht: Amtsgericht Freiburg • HRB 7656
Geschäftsführer: Stefan Reinauer • Ust-IdNr.: DE245674866

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