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Method and System For Redundant, Autonomous Firmware Update Disclosure Number: IPCOM000021959D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Feb-17
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Feb-17
Document File: 2 page(s) / 54K

Publishing Venue



A decentralized firmware repository is presented in the context of a series of microcontrollers operating on a multi-master serial bus.

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This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 53% of the total text.

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Method and System For Redundant, Autonomous Firmware Update

Main Idea

This invention solves the problem of potential complexity when attempting to modify firmware of many small devices serially attached to a single bus. The obvious solution is to tie up the bus and perform upgrades one at a time. In systems where many special function microcontrollers are used, it may sometimes be desireable to upgrade the firmware on all or some of these devices quickly and efficiently. In an example system imagine 8 small microcontrollers each performing a single specialized task connected to a single communications bus. Traditionally, a 9th device would act as a master and provide firmware to each device on power-up (where code is linked into RAM). Alternatively, the master could verify firmware revision of each individual CPU if it is stored in non-volatile memory such as FLASH or EEPROM. Illustrated as follows:

As each device (1 through 8 here) powers on, it will receive commands from the master device to report its firmware revision. If the firmware is downlevel, it will be upgraded. The master must do this for each device, and may not be able to do much else while feeding firmware to individual devices. This is because there are many delays required in firmware programming of small CPUs due to various software timing loops to assure proper chip programming and erasure. Effectively the master device may have to babysit each device for unnecessarily long periods of time.