Board Support Packages (BSPs)
A Specialty Discipline
Developing board support packages can be a daunting task. It is a specialty discipline that requires years of experience with different chips, boards and versions of the Linux kernel. If you are in the business of developing an application that uses Linux and you need to update your BSP, it probably does not make economic sense to try to grow Linux BSP development expertise in-house. Your time is better spent concentrating on your application.
Tk Open Systems has dozens of experience man-years over nearly a decade of developing Linux BSP’s for ARM, Xtensa, Blackfin, MIPS, PowerPC and SuperH based designs with a huge range of peripheral devices. We can develop a new BSP for your board design at a significant cost savings and development risk reduction for you. You also won’t need to divert your own engineering resources to a challenging task that is not in your core business area.
Vendor BSP Obsolesence
Most new board designs for embedded Linux applications use reference designs provided by the MPU or SoC vendor. Vendors like Texas Instruments, Freescale, and Qualcomm provide a Linux board support package (BSP) with their reference designs to help you get started. The majority of application designers use the vendor-provided BSP for their initial software development.
Over the market lifetime of an MPU or SoC, which can be five years or more, the SoC ecosystem changes considerably. New RAM and flash components, new network PHY’s and other peripherals come and go. The Linux kernel itself changes dramatically, with support for new features and capabilities being added at an increasing rate as Linux market acceptance grows.
So it is usually the case that the Linux BSP that you received from the SoC vendor when you made your design decision becomes out-of-date within a year or two, or does not include new Linux features that you need, or does not support the type of flash, RAM or other peripheral that you selected. When this happens, you need to update your board support package for the new kernel version that you need, and the new peripherals that you chose.
Advantages of a Mainline BSP
The BSP’s that we develop bring you up-to-date with the latest stable Linux kernel, GCC compiler toolchain and filesystem libraries and utilities. These BSP’s allow you to take advantage of improved optimization, error detection and memory leak detection in the latest GCC versions, and to use the latest kernel features such as updated device drivers, encrypted root filesystems and loadable module signatures.
What TkOS Offers
Our Linux BSP’s include:
- Choice of latest boot loader (U-Boot or BareBox)
- Mainline or long-term-stable Linux kernel (whatever version you require)
- Any custom device drivers that you might need for your board design
- Cross compiler and toolchain (GCC built with crosstools-ng)
- Run-time libraries and utilities (uClibc or glibc)
- Buildroot-generated filesystem (distribution) with any additional packages you might need
- Eclipse-based Integrated development environment (IDE)
- Target board debugger
- Instruction, documentation and support to whatever degree you require
We can also provide you with backports of later drivers or packages to earlier kernel version if required.