Intel prepares “PFRUT” for Linux 5.17 to allow system firmware update without reboot

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Intel’s open source engineers have prepared ‘PFRUT’ support for platform firmware runtime updates to enable EFI (U) capsule updates to run on high-performance devices. capable systems without restarting the system to eliminate downtime.

Intel has been working on PFRUT which is now part of the ACPI specification to allow on-the-fly update of platform firmware components without the need to reboot the system. The purpose of this is for servers where they need to be “100% available” and other cases where downtime needs to be kept to a minimum. This set of “pfr_update” drivers for the introduction of Linux 5.17 seems to be primarily designed to be able to update the system firmware in the event of critical bugs or security issues in a timely manner without introducing new downtime.

In September, I wrote about Intel engineers working on such a feature for the Linux kernel and around this ACPI specification. At the time, it was called Intel “Seamless Update” as probably their trade name. The fixes for this new driver simply reference it as ACPI PFRUT without calling it Seamless Update, so we’ll see if that brand has changed or if Intel is just trying to keep this ACPI driver completely vendor-independent.

Another change with this new patch set is PFRUT where as before it mentioned PFRU …. The “T” added now is for telemetry. As part of this activation, a platform firmware runtime telemetry driver is now also. This driver is used to read telemetry data from firmware in a standardized way.

This patch Monday presented the new pfr_update driver and followed by the telemetry pilot. Is also added a simple PFRUT tool for the user space to demonstrate firmware updates and telemetry access.

These fixes were picked up by the “linux-next” branch of Linux power management, which means they are important for the next kernel cycle, which will be Linux 5.17 with this merge window opening at mid-January.

For those interested in more information on Intel’s Runtime Firmware Update, starting August is the Intel Management Mode Firmware Update Specification. We’ll see in the future whether desktop systems end up supporting it or are only reserved for server-class hardware.


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