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Field Firmware Update & Diagnostics

Field Firmware Updates

Updating firmware in the field is often a necessary part of a product life cycle. In many cases an embedded application is not designed to update itself or has no connection to the outside world to allow remote updating. Access to a PC network or even wall power is often limited. PEmicro provides several solutions to allow in-circuit reprogramming of a target in an extremely simple fashion with little or no training required. PEmicro tools support programming the target automatically with a single click of a button. The only requirement of the target system is to have access to the background debug header on the microcontroller to be updated.

Firmware update without a PC

When detached from a PC, a Cyclone unit can operate as a stand-alone programmer. It can optionally be powered by a lithium ion powerpack which means that the Cyclone doesn’t need access to wall power. The combination is a fully operational field programming setup which is lightweight, compact, and extremely portable.

All that is required for a field update is to connect the Cyclone unit with a pre-programmed image to the target. Flash programming occurs directly from the Cyclone image to the target by the simple touch of the Start button. Many images may be stored in the Cyclone and the appropriate one may be selected via the liquid crystal display and buttons.

Once started, programming launches and the on-board LCD displays the current state of the programming process. The final result is displayed on the LCD as well as on highly visible LEDs which clearly indicate a successful programming result.

ARM® Cortex® device solutions

If you are working with ARM Cortex devices, such as NXP's Kinetis® or an ARM device from a different manufacturer, view P&E's full list of supported ARM Cortex devices at our ARM device resource page.

Firmware update with a PC

If the user has a laptop available, the PROG flash programming software can be used in combination with a USB Multilink cable to reprogram the flash in a target system. Power for the USB Multilink is drawn from the USB Bus of the laptop.

Firmware Updates can be done in an automated fashion using a script file with the command line version of the programmer. In this setup, programming can be performed by launching the programmer from a batch file which passes the script file for programming to the programmer. 

Alternately, firmware updates can also be performed through P&E’s interactive PROG software which allows the user to interactively reprogram the target.

In order for this configuration to be used, two pieces of equipment are needed: (1) the appropriate version of PROG suitable for your processor architecture, and (2) the appropriate USB Multilink for your processor architecture.

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