By now you should be somewhat familiar with the tooling and the development process. In this section we'll switch to real hardware; the process will remain largely the same. Let's dive in.

Know your hardware

Before we begin you need to identify some characteristics of the target device as these will be used to configure the project:

  • The ARM core. e.g. Cortex-M3.

  • Does the ARM core include an FPU? Cortex-M4F and Cortex-M7F cores do.

  • How much Flash memory and RAM does the target device have? e.g. 256 KiB of Flash and 32 KiB of RAM.

  • Where are Flash memory and RAM mapped in the address space? e.g. RAM is commonly located at address 0x2000_0000.

You can find this information in the data sheet or the reference manual of your device.

In this section we'll be using our reference hardware, the STM32F3DISCOVERY. This board contains an STM32F303VCT6 microcontroller. This microcontroller has:

  • A Cortex-M4F core that includes a single precision FPU

  • 256 KiB of Flash located at address 0x0800_0000.

  • 40 KiB of RAM located at address 0x2000_0000. (There's another RAM region but for simplicity we'll ignore it).


We'll start from scratch with a fresh template instance. Refer to the previous section on QEMU for a refresher on how to do this without cargo-generate.

$ cargo generate --git https://github.com/rust-embedded/cortex-m-quickstart
 Project Name: app
 Creating project called `app`...
 Done! New project created /tmp/app

$ cd app

Step number one is to set a default compilation target in .cargo/config.toml.

tail -n5 .cargo/config.toml
# Pick ONE of these compilation targets
# target = "thumbv6m-none-eabi"    # Cortex-M0 and Cortex-M0+
# target = "thumbv7m-none-eabi"    # Cortex-M3
# target = "thumbv7em-none-eabi"   # Cortex-M4 and Cortex-M7 (no FPU)
target = "thumbv7em-none-eabihf" # Cortex-M4F and Cortex-M7F (with FPU)

We'll use thumbv7em-none-eabihf as that covers the Cortex-M4F core.

NOTE: As you may remember from the previous chapter, we have to install all targets and this is a new one. So don't forget to run the installation process rustup target add thumbv7em-none-eabihf for this target.

The second step is to enter the memory region information into the memory.x file.

$ cat memory.x
/* Linker script for the STM32F303VCT6 */
  /* NOTE 1 K = 1 KiBi = 1024 bytes */
  FLASH : ORIGIN = 0x08000000, LENGTH = 256K
  RAM : ORIGIN = 0x20000000, LENGTH = 40K

NOTE: If you for some reason changed the memory.x file after you had made the first build of a specific build target, then do cargo clean before cargo build, because cargo build may not track updates of memory.x.

We'll start with the hello example again, but first we have to make a small change.

In examples/hello.rs, make sure the debug::exit() call is commented out or removed. It is used only for running in QEMU.

fn main() -> ! {
    hprintln!("Hello, world!").unwrap();

    // exit QEMU
    // NOTE do not run this on hardware; it can corrupt OpenOCD state
    // debug::exit(debug::EXIT_SUCCESS);

    loop {}

You can now cross compile programs using cargo build and inspect the binaries using cargo-binutils as you did before. The cortex-m-rt crate handles all the magic required to get your chip running, as helpfully, pretty much all Cortex-M CPUs boot in the same fashion.

cargo build --example hello


Debugging will look a bit different. In fact, the first steps can look different depending on the target device. In this section we'll show the steps required to debug a program running on the STM32F3DISCOVERY. This is meant to serve as a reference; for device specific information about debugging check out the Debugonomicon.

As before we'll do remote debugging and the client will be a GDB process. This time, however, the server will be OpenOCD.

As done during the verify section connect the discovery board to your laptop / PC and check that the ST-LINK header is populated.

On a terminal run openocd to connect to the ST-LINK on the discovery board. Run this command from the root of the template; openocd will pick up the openocd.cfg file which indicates which interface file and target file to use.

cat openocd.cfg
# Sample OpenOCD configuration for the STM32F3DISCOVERY development board

# Depending on the hardware revision you got you'll have to pick ONE of these
# interfaces. At any time only one interface should be commented out.

# Revision C (newer revision)
source [find interface/stlink.cfg]

# Revision A and B (older revisions)
# source [find interface/stlink-v2.cfg]

source [find target/stm32f3x.cfg]

NOTE If you found out that you have an older revision of the discovery board during the verify section then you should modify the openocd.cfg file at this point to use interface/stlink-v2.cfg.

$ openocd
Open On-Chip Debugger 0.10.0
Licensed under GNU GPL v2
For bug reports, read
Info : auto-selecting first available session transport "hla_swd". To override use 'transport select <transport>'.
adapter speed: 1000 kHz
adapter_nsrst_delay: 100
Info : The selected transport took over low-level target control. The results might differ compared to plain JTAG/SWD
none separate
Info : Unable to match requested speed 1000 kHz, using 950 kHz
Info : Unable to match requested speed 1000 kHz, using 950 kHz
Info : clock speed 950 kHz
Info : STLINK v2 JTAG v27 API v2 SWIM v15 VID 0x0483 PID 0x374B
Info : using stlink api v2
Info : Target voltage: 2.913879
Info : stm32f3x.cpu: hardware has 6 breakpoints, 4 watchpoints

On another terminal run GDB, also from the root of the template.

gdb-multiarch -q target/thumbv7em-none-eabihf/debug/examples/hello

NOTE: like before you might need another version of gdb instead of gdb-multiarch depending on which one you installed in the installation chapter. This could also be arm-none-eabi-gdb or just gdb.

Next connect GDB to OpenOCD, which is waiting for a TCP connection on port 3333.

(gdb) target remote :3333
Remote debugging using :3333
0x00000000 in ?? ()

Now proceed to flash (load) the program onto the microcontroller using the load command.

(gdb) load
Loading section .vector_table, size 0x400 lma 0x8000000
Loading section .text, size 0x1518 lma 0x8000400
Loading section .rodata, size 0x414 lma 0x8001918
Start address 0x08000400, load size 7468
Transfer rate: 13 KB/sec, 2489 bytes/write.

The program is now loaded. This program uses semihosting so before we do any semihosting call we have to tell OpenOCD to enable semihosting. You can send commands to OpenOCD using the monitor command.

(gdb) monitor arm semihosting enable
semihosting is enabled

You can see all the OpenOCD commands by invoking the monitor help command.

Like before we can skip all the way to main using a breakpoint and the continue command.

(gdb) break main
Breakpoint 1 at 0x8000490: file examples/hello.rs, line 11.
Note: automatically using hardware breakpoints for read-only addresses.

(gdb) continue

Breakpoint 1, hello::__cortex_m_rt_main_trampoline () at examples/hello.rs:11
11      #[entry]

NOTE If GDB blocks the terminal instead of hitting the breakpoint after you issue the continue command above, you might want to double check that the memory region information in the memory.x file is correctly set up for your device (both the starts and lengths).

Step into the main function with step.

(gdb) step
halted: PC: 0x08000496
hello::__cortex_m_rt_main () at examples/hello.rs:13
13          hprintln!("Hello, world!").unwrap();

After advancing the program with next you should see "Hello, world!" printed on the OpenOCD console, among other stuff.

$ openocd
Info : halted: PC: 0x08000502
Hello, world!
Info : halted: PC: 0x080004ac
Info : halted: PC: 0x080004ae
Info : halted: PC: 0x080004b0
Info : halted: PC: 0x080004b4
Info : halted: PC: 0x080004b8
Info : halted: PC: 0x080004bc

The message is only displayed once as the program is about to enter the infinite loop defined in line 19: loop {}

You can now exit GDB using the quit command.

(gdb) quit
A debugging session is active.

        Inferior 1 [Remote target] will be detached.

Quit anyway? (y or n)

Debugging now requires a few more steps so we have packed all those steps into a single GDB script named openocd.gdb. The file was created during the cargo generate step, and should work without any modifications. Let's have a peek:

cat openocd.gdb
target extended-remote :3333

# print demangled symbols
set print asm-demangle on

# detect unhandled exceptions, hard faults and panics
break DefaultHandler
break HardFault
break rust_begin_unwind

monitor arm semihosting enable


# start the process but immediately halt the processor

Now running <gdb> -x openocd.gdb target/thumbv7em-none-eabihf/debug/examples/hello will immediately connect GDB to OpenOCD, enable semihosting, load the program and start the process.

Alternatively, you can turn <gdb> -x openocd.gdb into a custom runner to make cargo run build a program and start a GDB session. This runner is included in .cargo/config.toml but it's commented out.

head -n10 .cargo/config.toml
# uncomment this to make `cargo run` execute programs on QEMU
# runner = "qemu-system-arm -cpu cortex-m3 -machine lm3s6965evb -nographic -semihosting-config enable=on,target=native -kernel"

[target.'cfg(all(target_arch = "arm", target_os = "none"))']
# uncomment ONE of these three option to make `cargo run` start a GDB session
# which option to pick depends on your system
runner = "arm-none-eabi-gdb -x openocd.gdb"
# runner = "gdb-multiarch -x openocd.gdb"
# runner = "gdb -x openocd.gdb"
$ cargo run --example hello
Loading section .vector_table, size 0x400 lma 0x8000000
Loading section .text, size 0x1e70 lma 0x8000400
Loading section .rodata, size 0x61c lma 0x8002270
Start address 0x800144e, load size 10380
Transfer rate: 17 KB/sec, 3460 bytes/write.