Case-Closed Debug in Chromebooks and Servo Micro

The Servo debug/test-automation connector has been required on all chromebooks. It has proved essential to performing the required testing to meet the six week OS release cycle, for bringing up new systems and qualifying new components. In newer form-factors it is becoming hard to fit the Servo connector (and related flex) and in some designs the thermal solution stops working when the connector is used. The secure Case-Closed Debugging solution provides the same capabilities and can take advantage of the Debug Mode detection available on the USB-C connector. This application note gives an overview of Case-Closed Debug (CCD) but does not address the related security issues.

Introduction to Case-Closed Debug

Case-Closed Debug provides the same set of features as are available on the Servo connector:

  • Access to console UART connections to AP, EC and on some systems a third MCU
  • Ability to reprogram firmware/BIOS SPI flash used by the AP
  • Ability to reprogram SPI flash used by the EC or use a firmware update mode to reprogram the internal flash on the EC (using UART or I2C)
  • GPIOs for holding the EC (and thus entire system) or AP in reset
  • Act as master on a debug I2C that is primarily used for power measurements. This bus normally contains INA voltage/current monitors and temperature monitors that will not be populated on final MP systems.
  • JTAG/SWD could be provided but has not been implemented on any existing system.

When the Servo connector is used these interfaces are presented on well defined pins of the board-to-board connector and a flex is used to attach to the external Servo controller. The height needed for the mated board-to-board connector is not available in newer slim designs, and the disruption caused by the flex may interfere with thermal solutions. In a system using Case-Closed Debug the interfaces are gathered by a part on the board into a single USB interface that can come out of the system on an existing connector. In particular, the USB-C connector has two SideBand Use pins (SBU1, SBU2) that can be used for the debug USB while the main link on the connector continues to be available. (The SBU pins are also used by some Alternate Modes, so the connector cannot be used for video out at the same time as debugging.)

Servo Micro: Using CCD with existing boards

The Servo Micro implements the CCD functions in a way that can connect to existing boards and thus can also serve as an easy introduction to the CCD implementation. The debug USB interface is expanded by a STM32F072 into an existing Servo flex connector that can be plugged into the target board.

block diagram

The Servo Micro includes the voltage level buffering between the microcontroller and the device under test (DUT), making use of the DUT supplied reference voltages. To allow use with all the existing designs a third UART (not on the original Servo connector, but on some designs) can be connected to either the JTAG pins or the SPI pins. It is capable of providing the SPI flash supply voltages.

The schematics for Servo Micro are available as a pdf.

Servo Micro has a USB micro-B connector and acts as a USB device.

Schematic sheet 2 shows the STM32 powered from the uB connector. The UART3 pins can also be used as GPIO pins when driving the JTAG interface. As a useful but non-compliant hack if the ID pin on the uB is low then Q4 will force the STM32 to boot in programming mode. This allows initial programming of the part with USB DFU using an illegal USB-A plug to USB-A plug cable and a USB-A receptacle to uB plug adapter. Alternatively the initial programming can be done using a UART connection on CN2.

Schematic sheet 3 shows the I2C GPIO expander and the buffers for JTAG/SWD. The buffers adapt to the voltage needed on the DUT that is provided on PPDUT_JTAG_VREF. In the SWD case the TDI becomes the bidirectional SWDIO but the STM32 continues to use a discrete input and output pin. The DUT signal is received through U55 and a selection made with U1 to determine if to forward TDO from the DUT or the TDI/SWDIO. Because of the shared pins on the STM32 the JTAG interface can alternatively be used to connect UART3 to the DUT for a few chromebook models.

Schematic sheet 4 shows the buffers for the SPI interfaces. Again the PPDUT_SPIn_VREF sets the voltage level required from the DUT. However, I61 and I62 (which are expanded on sheets 7 and 8) allow the Servo Micro to supply 3.3V or 1.8V for cases where the DUT does not provide the reference (care is needed to select the correct voltage for the given DUT). Only one of the SPI interfaces can be used at any time, so the buffers are also used to select which connects to the STM32 SPI pins. Certain chromebook models connect the UART3 in place of SPI1 which is enabled using U5 to select between the STM32 UART3 (TX,RX) and SPI (CLK, MISO).

Schematic sheet 5 shows the buffers for the UART interfaces. The PPDUT_UARTn_VREF sets the voltage level required from the DUT.

Schematic sheet 6 shows the board-to-board connector that mates with the servo connector on the DUT.

Schematic sheets 7 and 8 are the expansion of blocks I61 and I62 on sheet 4. The load switches are carefully selected to have reverse blocking (protecting against a DUT providing a voltage or both being enabled).

The code for the STM32 in Servo Micro is open source as the servo_micro board in the Chromium EC codebase. Essentially it is a USB device that provides the standard control endpoint and 7 function endpoints defined in board.h.

    #define USB_EP_USART4_STREAM	1
    #define USB_EP_UPDATE			2
    #define USB_EP_SPI			3
    #define USB_EP_CONSOLE		4
    #define USB_EP_I2C			5
    #define USB_EP_USART3_STREAM	6
    #define USB_EP_USART2_STREAM	7

The USART endpoints use the simple GOOGLE_SERIAL vendor class to connect the STM32 UARTs. The CONSOLE endpoint also uses GOOGLE_STREAM to connect to the console of the code running on the STM32. GOOGLE_STREAM provides simple byte streams on the IN and OUT of the endpoint and host support is included in the standard Linux drivers/usb/serial/usb-serial-simple.c

The SPI endpoint is described in chip/stm32/usb_spi.h and provides a simple connection to the SPI port. The host support is provided as a driver in flashrom.

The I2C endpoint is described in include/usb_i2c.h and provides a simple connection to the I2C bus. The host support is provided in the hdctools servo support.

The GPIO endpoint is cryptically described in chip/stm32/usb_gpio.h and provides simple access to set/clear and read the GPIO pins. The host support is provided in the hdctools servo support.

The UPDATE endpoint is not part of CCD. It provides a method for updating the STM32 without needing the special boot modes. This uses the Chromium EC update over USB method. The STM32 runs the code in common/usb_update.c. The host side code is in extra/usb_updater/usb_updater2.c and the extra/usb_updater directory contains additional scripts.

Using CCD on new designs

New chromebook designs implement the CCD in a similar way to Servo Micro. There are two changes to the Servo Micro:

  • The USB microB connector is replaced with the USB connection being carried on the SBU pins of one of the devices USB-C ports. This will only be activated when the USB-C port detects a debug accessory or a debug alternate mode is entered. Use of the debug connection precludes use of the Display Port alternate mode (which also uses the SBU pins) but allows full USB3 and USB2 functions including both host and gadget mode.
  • The system security chip will normally lock out debug access. Using secure transactions, user authorization and proof of user physical presence it can unlock various degrees of debug access.

The full details are part of the Cr50 firmware specification.