Intel Appears To Be Rolling Out FSP 2.0 Blob
Written by Michael Larabel in Coreboot on 8 March 2016 at 11:08 AM EST. 5 Comments
COREBOOT --
A controversial point of Intel's Coreboot support has been the FSP, or Firmware Support Package, which is needed for initializing the systems on all recent hardware generations. With the upcoming Apollo Lake it appears there is now a "FSP 2.0", but still relies upon binary blobs.

Intel describes FSP on their overview page as "Intel Firmware Support Package (Intel FSP) provides key programming information for initializing Intel silicon and can be easily integrated into a boot loader of the developer’s choice. It is easy to adopt, scalable to design, reduces time-to-market, and is economical to build."

FSP is needed for bringing up the system's CPU, memory controller, and chipset initialization. Intel describes FSP benefits as being no cost/royalties, re-usable, greater flexibility, reduced boot time, and the ecosystem support. From the free software developer perspective, FSP continues to be a pain point since they are binary blobs for initializing the hardware. Efforts to open-source an FSP implementation by the likes of Purism have been unsuccessful to date in freeing recent generations of Intel hardware from being able to boot without any "black boxes."

Interestingly, I've been seeing "FSP 2.0" references turn up in Coreboot. A few days ago committed were Coreboot to FSP 2.0 header files. That's been followed-up by more FSP2 commits including the addition of new MemoryInit, SiliconInit, and NotifyPhase APIs while most recently is frame-buffer graphics support.

Based upon the latest activity, it appears Apollolake is the first generation making use of the new FSP 2.0. Apollo Lake systems are anticipated to be shipping within the next few months as the successor to Braswell.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any solid information on FSP2 so at this point it's unclear if FSP 2.0 will be any better or worse for free software enthusiasts, but the code does make it seem like it's still blob'ed up. Once I have any more information on what FSP 2.0 entails, I'll certainly be passing it along.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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