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A Method to Validate Firmware Implementation in the Absence of Required Hardware

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129213D
Original Publication Date: 2005-Oct-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-01
Document File: 2 page(s) / 26K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

This invention describes a method to validate firmware functionality without using the specific hardware the firmware is designed to drive. The method can be a tool used for various firmware applications since the key to the method is simulating hardware components. The firmware program can then be placed in an environment that will enable it to run and it will interact with the simulation, which will test how the firmware functionality will operate once in the actual hardware for which it’s designed.

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A Method to Validate Firmware Implementation in the Absence of Required Hardware

Disclosed is a method to validate firmware functionality without using the specific hardware the firmware is designed to drive. The method can be a tool used for various firmware applications since the key to the method is simulating hardware components. The firmware program can then be placed in an environment that will enable it to run and it will interact with the simulation, which will test how the firmware functionality will operate once in the actual hardware for which it's designed.

The process to integrate new hardware components with the firmware that drives it can be time consuming and complex. One of the items that can increase the complexity is when the newly developed firmware has errors or is incomplete and thus produces unexpected results when integrating it with the hardware. In many development efforts, the lack of immediately functional firmware is common given that the hardware the firmware is designed for may not be available until late in the development cycle. Thus, validating firmware functionality cannot be done early in the development process. The inability to validate firmware functionality early can lead to more serious problems in further stages of development since new functions may be added on top of corrupt functionality and this can result in problems that are difficult to debug and correct. Thus, a desired solution is to provide a method to validate firmware implementation when the required hardware is unavailable.

This solution is specifically designed for the firmware in a Baseboard Management Controller (BMC), which resides in a blade in the Blade Center. Using the solution, the firmware of the Management Module (MM) in the Blade Center can also be validated. The MM and BMC are the specific items that are used when developing this solution; however different firmware components can include a similar solution that will test the firmware when required hardware is not present. The idea of simulating hardware components in the BladeCenter environment is new in the field because BladeCenter is a new technology and its various components are constantly being updated and modified. Firmware implementation for certain hardware components in the BladeCenter are often parallel with each other, therefore the idea to emulate the behavior of one hardware component while it is still being developed to test and analyze another is new.

The BMC is designed to run on a specific processor. The BMC has the responsibility of interfacing with and managing hardware components in the blade. These hardware components are specific to each type of blade and even similar hardware components within different blades may not have the same implementation for the interface used with the BMC. As an example, various blades may have main system processors, or host processors, that communicate with the BMC. However, the communication interface with the...