GeckoLoader: An EFM32 Bootloader’s Utility

Are you looking for a CLI or GUI utility to upload programs to EFM32 microcontrollers through the factory-programmed bootloader? Look no further.


Why EFM32 microcontrollers?

EFM32 are my first choice for low-power sensor-based systems because, well, they are “Energy Friendly Microcontrollers”, providing several interesting features specially designed for that purpose and a nice set of peripherals (go figure on their website). With a 32-bit ARM Cortex processor at its core, performance is guaranteed. They also provide support for GCC ARM Embedded toolchain which, in my opinion, is a HUGE plus, making them really nice and easy to use (or getting started with), without code size limits or having to pay for a commercial toolchain (like Keil or IAR). Silicons Labs provide all the startup code, linker scripts, an easy to use and well documented peripheral library, tools to monitor power consumption and even an Eclipse-based IDE. It’s everything inside Simplicity Studio which can be freely downloaded.

Disclosure: I don’t work at Silicon Labs and I am by any means associated with them. I’m just an EFM32 enthusiast 🙂


A great feature of EFM32 microcontrollers, by Silicons Labs, is the factory-programmed UART bootloader that may be used to upload programs into the microcontroller instead of using a commercial programmer. The bootloader uses the XMODEM-CRC protocol to transfer data and, as referred on the  application note AN0003 UART Bootloader, TeraTerm, which supports that kind of data transfers, may be used. However, if you want the capability of uploading a program through your own application a command-line utility is what you need. Look no further, you have efm32_loader which can run in CLI or GUI mode (if any arguments are provided).

Gecko Loader

CLI mode usage:

UART: efm32_loader.exe <port_name> <bin_file> uart <boot_pol>
USB:  efm32_loader.exe <port_name> <bin_file> usb

Regarding hardware, all you need is a USB-to-UART converter connected to your computer. Connections are as follows:

TX  -- BOOT_RX (E11)
RX  -- BOOT_TX (E10)
DTR -- BOOT_EN (DBG_SWCLK)
RTS -- RESET

Please be aware that, in order to prevent the bootloader from being overwritten, the linker script must be modified as described on application note AN0003.

The source code is available on Github:

https://github.com/cidadao/efm32_loader

And there’s also a Windows executable, available here:

Download

Bugs report? Suggestions or feature requests? Please use the Github or the comment section bellow.

Update (29/09/2015): added support for USB bootloader