USB-SD-Mux: Automated SD-Card Juggler

Once the bootloader on your embedded device is up and running the development of kernel and userland in PTXdist-based BSPs is usually based on booting from network. Thus there is no need for the developer to write the boot media with a new image.

But if you want to introduce automated testing of whole BSPs on a target you need a way to re-write the boot media with the latest image from continuous integration.

Introducing the USB-SD-Mux

For systems with SD- or Micro-SD-Card slot an USB-SD-Mux can help you with this job. The USB-SD-Mux has the following interfaces:

  • Micro-SD-Card slot: This slot contains the media you want to use with your target. You can use your off the shelf Micro-SD-Card here or use your top-notch low-voltage high-speed card - what ever fits your target.
  • Micro-SD-Card shape: This part of the PCB mimics the shape of a Micro-SD-Card and can be inserted into Micro-SD-slots on most targets.
  • USB-Interface: The USB-Connection is used to power the device and to expose the USB-SD-Mux to your automation server. This interface is used to control the USB-SD-Mux and to access the Micro-SD-Card via the integrated card reader.

The key feature of the USB-SD-Mux is the ability to switch the Micro-SD-Card between the target and the test server. This makes it possible to use sequences like the following:

  • Switch the Micro-SD-Card to the integrated card reader and thus make it accessible to your test server.
  • Write your image to the Micro-SD-Card.
  • Switch the Micro-SD-Card over to the target.
  • Power up your target and boot from Micro-SD-Card.

Using the USB-SD-Mux

Once connected to your test server the USB-SD-Mux will be detected as an off the shelf card reader:

cfi@klee:~$ dmesg -w
[ 4097.117229] usb 1-4: new high-speed USB device number 9 using xhci_hcd
[ 4097.257372] usb 1-4: New USB device found, idVendor=0424, idProduct=2640
[ 4097.257381] usb 1-4: New USB device strings: Mfr=0, Product=0, SerialNumber=0
[ 4097.258324] hub 1-4:1.0: USB hub found
[ 4097.258354] hub 1-4:1.0: 1 port detected
[ 4097.545236] usb 1-4.1: new high-speed USB device number 10 using xhci_hcd
[ 4097.701956] usb 1-4.1: New USB device found, idVendor=0424, idProduct=4041
[ 4097.701970] usb 1-4.1: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=3
[ 4097.701974] usb 1-4.1: Product: usb-sd-mux_rev2.0
[ 4097.701978] usb 1-4.1: Manufacturer: Pengutronix
[ 4097.701981] usb 1-4.1: SerialNumber: 000000000101
[ 4097.720825] usb-storage 1-4.1:1.0: USB Mass Storage device detected
[ 4097.720864] scsi host6: usb-storage 1-4.1:1.0
[ 4097.720970] usbcore: registered new interface driver usb-storage
[ 4097.721880] usbcore: registered new interface driver uas
[ 4098.742245] scsi 6:0:0:0: Direct-Access     PTX      sdmux HS-SD/MMC  2.09 PQ: 0 ANSI: 0
[ 4098.742963] sd 6:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg1 type 0
[ 4098.744841] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] Attached SCSI removable disk

Every USB-SD-Mux is identified by a unique SerialNumber at USB-level. This makes it possible to use several USB-SD-Mux on a test server and keep them apart:

cfi@klee:~$ ls /dev/usb-sd-mux/

On a high-level perspective the USB-SD-Mux is controlled via a piece of Python software. This software is available at GitHub. Using this software you can simply switch the destination of your Micro-SD-Card:

cfi@klee:~$ usbsdmux --help
usage: usbsdmux [-h] sg {dut,host,off,client}

positional arguments:
  sg                    /dev/sg* to use
                        mode to switch to. Can be {off, DUT, host}

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit

For example using DistroKit to build a BSP for a BeagleBoneBlack and deploying it using the USB-SD-Mux can look like:

cfi@klee:~/DistroKit$ ptxdist images
cfi@klee:~/DistroKit$ sudo usbsdmux /dev/usb-sd-mux/id-000000000101 host
cfi@klee:~/DistroKit$ dd if=platform-v7a/images/beaglebone.hdimg of=/dev/sdb bs=4M
cfi@klee:~/DistroKit$ sudo usbsdmux /dev/usb-sd-mux/id-000000000101 dut
cfi@klee:~/DistroKit$ # Powercycle your target

Low-Level Features

Target Voltage

The USB-SD-Mux uses a high speed analog switch to connect the Micro-SD-Card to either of the targets. Such devices are designed to operate just inside their supply voltage range.

The USB-SD-Mux is internally powered with 3.3V. This limits the usable voltage range of the target SD-Card-supply to 0 .. 3.5V. On the bright side: The SD-Card interface is only specified up to 3.3V so this should fit most needs. And you are able to use low-voltage Micro-SD-Cards with - for example - 1.8V.

Break-Before-Make Switching

The control software uses, what the hardware guys would call, break-before-make switching. This means that the Micro-SD-Card is disconnected from the previous endpoint before connecting it to the next endpoint. The sequence is timed in a way that powers off the Micro-SD-Card before re-connecting it. A complete power-off makes sure the Micro-SD-Card is reset properly.

Customize USB-Representation

The Product-, Manufacturer- and Serialnumber-Strings reported via USB can be customized to your needs:

cfi@klee:~$ usbsdmux-configure --help
usage: usbsdmux-configure [-h] [--productString PRODUCTSTRING]
                          [--manufacturerString MANUFACTURERSTRING]
                          [--VID VID] [--ScsiManufacturer SCSIMANUFACTURER]
                          [--ScsiProduct SCSIPRODUCT] [--PID PID]
                          sg serial

This tool writes and verifies the configuration EEPROM of the usb-sd-mux with
the information given on the command line.

positional arguments:
  sg                    The /dev/sg* to use
  serial                Serial-Number to write. Should be unique.

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  --productString PRODUCTSTRING
                        Product-Name to write.
  --manufacturerString MANUFACTURERSTRING
                        Manufacturer-Name to write.
  --VID VID             USB Vendor ID
  --ScsiManufacturer SCSIMANUFACTURER
                        Value for the SCSI Manufacturer to write
  --ScsiProduct SCSIPRODUCT
                        Value für the SCSI Product Name to write
  --PID PID             USB Product ID

Weiterführende Links

Linux Automation Test Automation Controller: Ein all-in-one labgrid Exporter

Unsere Tochter Linux Automation GmbH stellt mit dem LXA TAC (Linux Automation Test Automation Controller) einen all-in-one labgrid exporter vor. Das LXA TAC bietet die üblichen Schnittstellen, um ein oder mehrere Embedded Geräte (DUTs, Devices under Test) mit labgrid interaktiv oder automatisiert steuern zu können.

USB-SD-Mux now reads SD Card registers

The USB-SD-Mux is designed to make life easier for embedded software engineers by automating the transfer of an SD card between a host PC (deploying a new software image to the SD card) and an embedded Linux device. Since we have introduced this device into our Embedded Linux development workflow back in 2019 we have probably written thousands of SD card images with it. Now the usbsdmux software controlling the device has gained a new feature: It can now read and decode a few SD card information registers. This makes it possible to gain more insight into the capabilities of the used SD card - especially while developing on low-level software and drivers interfacing with the SD card.

LXA USB-T1L ❤️ Beagle Play: Exploring Single Wire Ethernet

It seems everybody is talking about Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) these days. So we want to follow the trend and do the same :-) SPE is a class of Ethernet transmission standards that uses just a single pair of twisted pair cable for data transmission. There are multiple SPE variants spanning maximum data rates from a hand full MBit/s to multiple GBit/s and cable lengths from a hand full of meters to kilometers. The most interesting ones from our embedded-centric point of view are 10Base-T1L (point-to-point, up to 1 km), 10Base-T1S (multidrop, approx. 10 m) and 100Base-T1 (point-to-point, 15 m). The new Beagle Play comes with a 10Base-T1L PHY. This makes it a great peer to experiment with our Linux Automation USB-T1L. In this post we will explore the possibilities of 10Base-T1L on a recent Linux system.

Pengutronix at Embedded World 2022

Welcome to our booth at the Embedded World 2022 in Nürnberg!

labgrid Tutorials

This week, we started our series of YouTube labgrid tutorials. In the next few weeks we will publish more video tutorials showing you labgrid's features and giving you handy tips and tricks.

Update des Remotelab Equipments

If it looks like a Werbe-Blogpost, reads like a Werbe-Blogpost … it probably is a Werbe-Blogpost! Niemand möchte gerne Werbung lesen, und wir schreiben sie auch gar nicht so gerne, aber wie alle stolzen Eltern möchten wir Ihnen gerne die neuen Produkte vorführen, die unsere Unternehmens-Tochter, die Linux Automation GmbH, frisch in ihren Shop aufgenommen hat. Mit diesen neuen Produkten ergänzen wir, und vielleicht auch bald Sie, unsere Remotelab-Infrastruktur.

Lab-Automatisierung mit LXA IOBus

Etwas über dreieinhalb Jahre sind seit unserer letzten Produktankündigung vergangen, seitdem haben wir viele Normen gelesen, Dinge über Webshops und den Alltag der Elektronikfertigung gelernt und still und heimlich an neuen Produkten getüftelt. Heute möchte ich das LXA IOBus-System vorstellen, bestehend aus einem CAN-basierten Kommunikationsprotokoll, einem zugehörigen Gateway-Server und einer neuen Klasse an Linux Automation GmbH Produkten. Zwei dieser neuen Produkte sind der Ethernet-Mux und das 4DO-3DI-3AI Input/Output-Board.

Showcase: Embedded off-the-shelf

Ein Firmware-Upgrade ist fällig. Eine neu implementierte Funktion muss ausgerollt, eine Sicherheitslücke gepatcht oder neue Hardware-Unterstützung hinzugefügt werden. Die Software ist zwar leistungsfähig, aber komplex. Pengutronix' Strategie, mit dieser Komplexität umzugehen, ist die Arbeit an einem versionskontrollierten Board Support Package (BSP) mit kontinuierlichen Updates und Tests auf dem neuesten Mainline-Linux-Kernel.

Showcase: Continuous Testing

In den Linux-Kernel wandern jedes Jahr etwa 70.000 Patche, viele davon sind Bugfixes. Das Gleiche gilt für die meisten anderen Open-Source-Projekte, die Teil eines modernen Linux-Systems sind. Um von der Arbeit in der Community profitieren zu können, bleibt als sinnvolle Strategie, ständig auf dem neusten Softwarestand aufzusetzen und das System aktuell zu halten. Natürlich können bei dieser Menge an Änderungen auch neue Fehler hinzukommen oder Inkompatibilitäten entstehen.

Showcase: Remote Working

Zur Projektarbeit mit unseren Kunden gehört die Arbeit mit Prototypen-Hardware. Da wir grundsätzlich parallel für mehrere Kunden an vielen verschieden Projekten arbeiten, bedeutet das eine Flut von Prototypen auf den Schreibtischen unserer Entwickler. Spätestens wenn im Team an einem Prototypen gearbeitet werden soll oder längere Zeit nicht aktiv an einem Projekt gearbeitet wird, muss die Hardware regelmäßig umgezogen und am neuen Arbeitsplatz verkabelt werden. Erschwerend kommt hinzu, dass die Entfernung zwischen unseren Entwickler-Schreibtischen durch die aktuelle Homeoffice-Situation, nicht wie gewohnt in Metern, sondern in Kilometern gemessen wird.