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Rockpi4/Linux system runs on M.2 NVME SSD

    ROCK Pi 4 >  Linux system runs on M.2 NVME SSD

It is exciting that, on ROCK Pi 4, NVME is able to boot from SPI Flash. Here is the tutorial about Linux system running on M.2 NVME SSD.

This tutorial applys to ROCK Pi 4A and ROCK Pi 4B.

Prerequisites

To follow this tutorial, you will need:

  • A well-running ROCK Pi with eMMC or Micro SD Card
  • Linux system image for ROCK Pi 4
  • SPI Flash image (ROCK Pi 4 u-boot image)
  • SPI Flash IC on ROCK Pi 4
    • Single power supply voltage range: 2.7~3.6V
    • Space: at least 4MB
  • M.2 NVME SSD with M.2 NVMe SSD Reader Adapter
    • Support brand: HP (HP SSD EX900 M.2 250GB), Intel, MaxMemory, KingSpec, etc

Step 1 Install ROCK Pi 4 u-boot image to SPI Flash

There are two methods for installing u-boot image to SPI Flash, but you must installed the SPI Flash IC on your ROCK Pi4 before this methods.

Check if there is a SPI flash on ROCK Pi 4 board. See SPI Flash.

Method One: Write image to SPI flash from USB OTG port

Firstly, remove booting devices such as uSD card, eMMC, and M.2 NVME SSD from ROCK Pi 4.

Secondly, get ROCK Pi 4 u-boot image from here . Select the target files, called uboot-trust-spi.img and rk3399_loader_spinor_v1.15.114.bin .

Thirdly, follow Write image to SPI flash from USB OTG port to flash image.

Finally, we can see that red(or blue) led is always on.

Method Two: Write image to SPI flash using mtd tool

This method requires a running system ( Ubuntu Server or Debian Desktop ) on ROCK Pi 4 board. So now power on the ROCK Pi 4. Maybe your ROCK Pi system is running on eMMC module or uSD card. It is OK.

Firstly, add Radxa APT source. The latest version of u-boot and kernel are still in testing.

For Debian stretch

 $ export DISTRO=stretch-testing # update more frequently but maybe unstable
 $ echo "deb http://apt.radxa.com/$DISTRO/ stretch main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/apt-radxa-com.list

or Ubuntu server

 $ export DISTRO=bionic-testing # update more frequently but maybe unstable
 $ echo "deb http://apt.radxa.com/$DISTRO/ bionic main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/apt-radxa-com.list

Get the pub key

 $ wget -O -  apt.radxa.com/$DISTRO/public.key | sudo apt-key add -

Update APT

 $ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Install necessary packages

 $ sudo apt-get install -y rockchip-fstab
 $ sudo apt-get install -y rockchip-overlay
 $ sudo apt-get install -y rockpi4-dtbo
 $ sudo apt-get install -y linux-4.4-latest # Will update kernel

Update u-boot in uSD card or eMMC:

 $ sudo apt-get install -y rockpi4b-rk-u-boot-latest

Screen shows

 ...
 You are currently running on board:
 ROCK PI 4B 
 There will be two steps that you have to confirm. One is upgrading bootloader on SPI Flash.
 The other is upgrading bootloader on eMMC or uSD card.
 
 Step one: upgrade bootloader on SPI Flash
 Boot device, SPI Flash, is not found. Make sure there is one SPI Flash on board.
 You can install package rockpi4-dtbo later manually and uncomment three lines in file /boot/hw_intfc.conf.
 intfc:uart4=off
 intfc:spi1=on
 intfc:dtoverlay=spi1-flash
 After restarting the Pi, execute command, /usr/local/sbin/rockpi4b_upgrade_bootloader.sh.

 Step two: upgrade bootloader on uSD card or eMMC.
 Boot device, uSD card or eMMC, is found. Would you like to upgrade bootloader on it?
 If yes, type Y/y. If no, type N/n.

Just type Y or y.

 y
 Backup bootloader on boot device (/dev/mmcblk1p2).
 8192+0 records in
 8192+0 records out
 4194304 bytes (4.2 MB, 4.0 MiB) copied, 0.107356 s, 39.1 MB/s
 Overwrite bootloader to boot device (/dev/mmcblk1p2).
 2048+0 records in
 2048+0 records out
 1048576 bytes (1.0 MB, 1.0 MiB) copied, 0.140072 s, 7.5 MB/s
 Done.

Modify file, /boot/hw_intfc.conf. Uncomment these lines.

 intfc:uart4=off
 intfc:spi1=on
 intfc:dtoverlay=spi1-flash

Reboot the machine.

After login, there is a device /dev/mtd0.

 $ ls /dev/mtd*
 /dev/mtd0  /dev/mtd0ro  /dev/mtdblock0

Execute command

 $ sudo /usr/local/sbin/rockpi4b_upgrade_bootloader.sh

Screen shows

 You are currently running on board:
 ROCK PI 4B 
 There will be two steps that you have to confirm. One is upgrading bootloader on SPI Flash.
 The other is upgrading bootloader on eMMC or uSD card.
 
 Step one: upgrade bootloader on SPI Flash
 One boot device, SPI Flash, is found, would you like to upgrade bootloader on it?
 The installation would cost several minutes.
 If yes, type Y/y. If no, type N/n.

Just type Y or y.

 y
 Overwrite bootloader to SPI Flash device.
 Writing /dev/mtd0 with content of /usr/lib/u-boot-rockpi4b/spi/uboot-trust-spi.img
 Erasing 4 Kibyte @ 3ff000 -- 100 % complete 
 Writing data to block 0 at offset 0x0
 Writing data to block 1 at offset 0x1000
 Writing data to block 2 at offset 0x2000
 Writing data to block 3 at offset 0x3000
 Writing data to block 4 at offset 0x4000
 ...
 Writing data to block 1020 at offset 0x3fc000
 Writing data to block 1021 at offset 0x3fd000
 Writing data to block 1022 at offset 0x3fe000
 Writing data to block 1023 at offset 0x3ff000
 
 Step two: upgrade bootloader on uSD card or eMMC
 Boot device, uSD card or eMMC, is found. Would you like to upgrade bootloader on it?
 If yes, type Y/y. If no, type N/n.

Type N or n.

 n
 Do not overwrite bootloader to uSD card or eMMC device.
 You can upgrade it by executing /usr/local/sbin/rockpi4b_upgrade_bootloader.sh later.
 Done.

Step 2 Install ROCK Pi 4 system image to M.2 NVME SSD

It is convenient to install system image to M.2 NVME SSD. System images used includes Ubuntu Server and Debian Desktop.

Put the M.2 NVME SSD into M.2 NVMe SSD Reader Adapter, and then insert them to PC.

When they are ready, use tool command dd or APP Etcher to install system image to M.2 NVME SSD.

Use Etcher APP

Click here.


Use tool command "dd"

Get your NVME SSD device path:

   sudo fdisk -l

You can see the out put message just like this:

   Disk /dev/nvme0n1: 232.9 GiB, 250059350016 bytes, 488397168 sectors             #The '/dev/nvme0n1' is your NVME SSD device path
   Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes                                           
   Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes                           
   I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes 

Write Image:

   sudo dd if='your image path' of='your NVME SSD device path' bs=1M             
   #such as: sudo dd if=rockpi4-debian-stretch-desktop-arm64-20190710_1940-gpt.img of=/dev/nvme0n1 bs=1M

Step 3 Test M.2 NVME SSD booting from SPI Flash

Power off ROCK Pi 4, remove eMMC module or uSD Card from ROCK Pi 4 since there is system image in eMMC module or uSD Card.

Insert M.2 NVME SSD into ROCK Pi 4.

Power on ROCK Pi 4 and the system runs on M.2 NVME SSD. Now we need to checkout some important information.

lsusb to see whether the fourth partition is mounted on /boot directory. If not, just install package, rockchip-fstab, which will add the following lines in file /etc/fstab. If the contents of /etc/fstab are incorrect, just modify it. Then do sudo mount -a.

The contents of files /etc/fstab.

 # UNCONFIGURED FSTAB FOR BASE SYSTEM
 # /etc/fstab: static file system information.
 #
 # <file system> <mount point>   <type>  <options>       <dump>  <pass>
 
 /dev/nvme0n1p4  /boot   vfat    defaults        0       2

lsusb should show like this when system runs on M.2 NVMEE SSD.

 root@linaro-alip:/boot# lsblk
 NAME        MAJ:MIN RM   SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT
 nvme0n1     259:0    0 232.9G  0 disk 
 ├─nvme0n1p1 259:1    0   3.9M  0 part 
 ├─nvme0n1p2 259:2    0     4M  0 part 
 ├─nvme0n1p3 259:3    0     4M  0 part 
 ├─nvme0n1p4 259:4    0   112M  0 part /boot
 └─nvme0n1p5 259:5    0 232.8G  0 part /

Since the fourth partition, /dev/nvme0n1p4, is mounted on /boot directory. Now need to update necessary u-boot and kernel packages.

 $ sudo apt-get install -y rockchip-overlay
 $ sudo apt-get install -y linux-4.4-latest rockpi4-dtbo rockpi4b-rk-u-boot-latest

Modify file, /boot/hw_intfc.conf. Uncomment these lines. Thus we can use SPI Flash device (/dev/mtd0)

intfc:uart4=off
intfc:spi1=on
intfc:dtoverlay=spi1-flash

Reboot the Pi.

FAQs

  • u-boot supporting NVME booting verison
    • 2017.09-2676-g4490220395 (or newer)
  • kernel version
    • 4.4.154-90-rockchip-ga14f6502e045 (or newer)
  • rockpi4-dtbo version
    • 4 (or newer)
  • Debug log
 rock@ubuntu:~$ ls /dev/mtd*
 /dev/mtd0  /dev/mtd0ro  /dev/mtdblock0
 
 rock@ubuntu:~$ cat /proc/mtd 
 dev:    size   erasesize  name
 mtd0: 00400000 00001000 "loader"
 
 rock@ubuntu:~$ sudo dmesg | grep spi  
 [sudo] password for rock: 
 [    2.227001] rockchip-spi ff1d0000.spi: Failed to request TX DMA channel
 [    2.227587] rockchip-spi ff1d0000.spi: Failed to request RX DMA channel
 [    2.228171] rockchip-spi ff1d0000.spi: no high_speed pinctrl state
 [    2.229257] m25p80 spi32766.0: xt25f32b (4096 Kbytes)
 [    2.229715] 1 ofpart partitions found on MTD device spi32766.0
 [    2.230273] Creating 1 MTD partitions on "spi32766.0":
  • Verified SPI Flash
    • W25Q64FV
    • GD25Q127CSIG
    • XT25F32B
    • XT25F128B
  • How to know that the image has been successfully installed to SPI Flash?
    • For the newest version of u-boot, when it runs, the red(or blue) led is on.
    • You can remove booting devices such as uSD card, eMMC module and so on. Power on ROCK Pi 4 with SPI Flash on board to see if the red(or blue) led is on. If yes, it means that you make it.
  • Check if there is a SPI flash on ROCK Pi 4 board. See SPI Flash.

Change log

uboot-trust-spi-20190816_1128.img

  • Check
    • md5sum: 45e8f258d8fcdf3c2d5571b37c30716c
    • sha256sum: 7f453ccd2009df3b6aaa2ab37b465f78cdd5962c665726651c86237a8b041095
  • Support MS Dos(MBR) partition table
  • Support Armbian system image for ROCK Pi 4.

Troubleshooting