Zerocat Chipflasher  v0.4.3 (board-edition-1)
Flash free firmware to BIOS chips, kick the Manageability Engine.
Format cites more clearly.
Update information about Teensy.
Add the HiFive1.

Some terms explained

  • Microcontroller

    A microcontroller is a small computer (SoC) on a single integrated circuit containing a processor core, memory, and programmable input/output peripherals. Program memory in the form of Ferroelectric RAM, NOR flash or OTP ROM is also often included on chip, as well as a typically small amount of RAM. Microcontrollers are designed for embedded applications, in contrast to the microprocessors used in personal computers or other general purpose applications.


  • ARM

    ARM, originally Acorn RISC Machine, is a family of reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architectures for computer processors, configured for various environments, developed by British company ARM Holdings.

    ARM Holdings licenses the chip designs and the ARM instruction set architectures to third parties, who design their own products that implement one of those architectures — including systems-on-chips (SoC) that incorporate memory, interfaces, radios, etc.

    While ARM Holdings does not grant the licensee the right to resell the ARM architecture itself, licensees may freely sell manufactured product such as chip devices, evaluation boards and complete systems.

    ARM Holdings prices its IP (= intellectual property) based on perceived value. Lower performing ARM cores typically have lower licence costs than higher performing cores. In implementation terms, a synthesizable core costs more than a hard macro (blackbox) core.


  • IP-core (semiconductor intellectual property core)

    In electronic design a semiconductor intellectual property core, IP core, or IP block is a reusable unit of logic, cell, or chip layout design that is the intellectual property of one party. IP cores may be licensed to another party or can be owned and used by a single party alone. The term is derived from the licensing of the patent and/or source code copyright that exist in the design.


  • Parallax Propeller

    The Parallax P8X32A Propeller chip, introduced in 2006, is a multi-core architecture parallel microcontroller with eight 32-bit RISC CPU cores.

    The Parallax Propeller microcontroller, Propeller Assembly language, and Spin interpreter were designed by one person, Parallax's co-founder and president Chip Gracey. The Spin programming language and "Propeller Tool" integrated development environment were designed by Chip Gracey and Parallax's software engineer Jeff Martin.

    On August 6, 2014, Parallax Inc. released the Propeller P8X32A Verilog and top-level HDL files under the GNU General Public License 3.0.


  • Flash memory

    Flash memory is an electronic non-volatile computer storage medium that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed.

    Whereas EPROMs had to be completely erased before being rewritten, NAND type flash memory may be written and read in blocks (or pages) which are generally much smaller than the entire device. NOR type flash allows a single machine word (byte) to be written – to an erased location – or read independently.


Important People

  • John L. Hennessy

    John Leroy Hennessy (born September 22, 1952) is an American computer scientist, academician, and businessman. Hennessy is one of the founders of MIPS Computer Systems Inc. as well as Atheros and is the tenth President of Stanford University. Marc Andreessen called him "the godfather of Silicon Valley".

    In 2012, Hennessy was awarded the IEEE Medal of Honor.[13] The IEEE awarded Hennessy their highest recognition "for pioneering the RISC processor architecture and for leadership in computer engineering and higher education".


    • RISC-V Project
    • Hennessy & Patterson, book authors; Book title: "Computer Architecture, 5th Edition", Print Book ISBN: 9780123838728, eBook ISBN: 9780123838735
  • Chip Gracey, Founder and President of Parallax, developed the Propeller microcontroller

    The Propeller microcontroller, and its upcoming successor, are designed for use in open-source hardware applications, and Parallax’s development boards for the Propeller microcontroller are released as open hardware designs.

    Because Parallax doesn’t require non-disclosure agreements to get technical information about its products, Chip is able to post in-depth information about the next Propeller microcontroller while he is working on it, and get immediate feedback.


Flashrom Software

flashrom is a utility for identifying, reading, writing, verifying and erasing flash chips. It is designed to flash BIOS/EFI/coreboot/firmware/optionROM images on mainboards, network/graphics/storage controller cards, and various other programmer devices.


Flashrom’s native protocol is serprog, but a lot of external flashers are supported.

The Chipflasher and its Neighbours

  • Zerocat Chipflasher, intends to be a 100% free-design hardware tool

    • started as a support equipment for the libreboot project
    • core: Parallax Propeller free-design chip
    • board: free-design circuit
    • free software tools
    • easy to use
    • Do-it-Yourself hardware

    This flasher runs its own kick-connect protocol, but using flashrom’s serprog as well would be a very good idea.

  • BeagleBoneBlack (BBB), a real computer, approx. 50,- Euro?
    • free board design files,
    • free software,
    • System without chip from TI, nonfree ARM design
    • nonfree video driver
  • Raspberry Pi with Broadcom chip
    • nonfee ARM design
    • nonfree video driver and baseband processor (wireless communication), controlling the boot process
  • Bus Pirate
    • nonfree PIC microcontroller
    • nonfree code as well?
  • Teensy