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

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: 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.

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.

Pengutronix at FOSDEM 2021

"FOSDEM is a free event for software developers to meet, share ideas and collaborate. Every year, thousands of developers of free and open source software from all over the world gather at the event in Brussels. In 2021, they will gather online." -- FOSDEM

Launch of Linux Automation GmbH

Chris Fiege | | linux-automation

We proudly present our new spin-off Linux Automation GmbH for selling hardware products, like USB-SD-Mux.

USB-SD-Mux: EMC Testing

Today Jonas and I went to our EMC testing lab to continue the measurements needed to certify electromagnetic compatibility for the USB-SD-Mux.

A Logo for labgrid

Enrico Jörns | | labgrid

It took us a while to find a good logo for one of our latest (but already quite-a-few-years-out) software projects, called labgrid. In case you have not heard of it yet, feel free to read our short blog post from 2017 or visit labgrid's GitHub page.

Pengutronix at FrOSCon 2018

This year, a team from Pengutronix attended FrOSCon in St. Augustin for the first time. We took the opportunity to shake hands, talk about our latest developments and meet hackers interested in working with embedded Linux.

labgrid: Test Automation Framework Released

Robert Schwebel | | labgrid

At Pengutronix, one of the most important tasks in our industrial linux projects is testing of embedded systems. While testing is easy on the component level (there are many unit test frameworks around), it is increasingly difficult on system level. Tests do not only run code and compare results, they need to bring the device-under-test into different states (i.e. "bootloader", "linux console", "power off"). If you have many embedded Linux devices, remote-controlling power, serial consoles, network, switches, reset lines, SD cards in scalable, automatic labs is also on the wishlist.