Xilinx® FPGAs, system-on-chip (SoC) devices, and adaptive compute acceleration platforms (ACAPs) typically have multiple hardware and software binaries used to boot them to function as designed and expected. These binaries can include FPGA bitstreams, firmware images, bootloaders, operating systems, and user-chosen applications that can be loaded in both non-secure and secure methods.

Bootgen is a Xilinx tool that lets you stitch binary files together and generate device boot images. Bootgen defines multiple properties, attributes and parameters that are input while creating boot images for use in a Xilinx device.

The secure boot feature for Xilinx devices uses public and private key cryptographic algorithms. Bootgen provides assignment of specific destination memory addresses and alignment requirements for each partition. It also supports encryption and authentication, described in Using Encryption and Using Authentication. More advanced authentication flows and key management options are discussed in Using HSM Mode, where Bootgen can output intermediate hash files that can be signed offline using private keys to sign the authentication certificates included in the boot image. Bootgen assembles a boot image by adding header blocks to a list of partitions. Optionally, each partition can be encrypted and authenticated with Bootgen. The output is a single file that can be directly programmed into the boot flash memory of the system. Various input files can be generated by the tool to support authentication and encryption as well. See BIF Syntax and Supported File Types for more information.

Bootgen comes with both a GUI interface and a command line option. The tool is integrated into the Vitis™ Integrated Development Environment (IDE), for generating basic boot images using a GUI, but the majority of Bootgen options are command-line driven. Command line options can be scripted. The Bootgen tool is driven by a boot image format (BIF) configuration file, with a file extension of *.bif. Along with Xilinx SoC and ACAP, Bootgen has the ability to encrypt and authenticate partitions for Xilinx 7 series and later FPGAs, as described in FPGA Support. In addition to the supported command and attributes that define the behavior of a Boot Image, there are utilities that help you work with Bootgen. Bootgen code is now available on Github.

Navigating Content by Design Process

Xilinx® documentation is organized around a set of standard design processes to help you find relevant content for your current development task. All Versal™ ACAP design process Design Hubs can be found on the website. This document covers the following design processes:

System and Solution Planning
Identifying the components, performance, I/O, and data transfer requirements at a system level. Includes application mapping for the solution to PS, PL, and AI Engine.
Embedded Software Development
Creating the software platform from the hardware platform and developing the application code using the embedded CPU. Also covers XRT and Graph APIs.

Installing Bootgen

You can use Bootgen in GUI mode for simple boot image creation, or in a command line mode for more complex boot images. You can install Bootgen from the Vivado Design Suite installer. The Vitis software platform is available for use when you install the Vivado® Design Suite, or it can be downloaded and installed individually. See the Vivado Design Suite User Guide: Release Notes, Installation, and Licensing (UG973) for all possible installation options.

To install Bootgen from Vivado, go to the Xilinx Download Site, and select the Vivado self-extracting installer. During Vivado installation, choose the option to install Vitis as well. Bootgen is included along with Vitis. You can also install Bootgen from the Vitis Installer. The Vitis self-extracting installer found on the Xilinx Download site. After you install Vitis with Bootgen, you can start and use the tool from the Vitis GUI option that contains the most common actions for rapid development and experimentation, or from the XSCT.

The command line option provides many more options for creating a boot image. See the Using Bootgen Interfaces to see the GUI and command line options:

Boot Time Security

Secure booting through latest authentication methods is supported to prevent unauthorized or modified code from being run on Xilinx® devices, and to make sure only authorized programs access the images for loading various encryption techniques.

For device-specific hardware security features, see the following documents:

  • Zynq-7000 SoC Technical Reference Manual (UG585)
  • Zynq UltraScale+ Device Technical Reference Manual (UG1085)
  • Versal ACAP Technical Reference Manual (AM011)

See Using Encryption and Using Authentication for more information about encrypting and authenticating content when using Bootgen.

The Bootgen hardware security monitor (HSM) mode increases key handling security because the BIF attributes use public rather than private RSA keys. The HSM is a secure key/signature generation device which generates private keys, encrypts partitions using the private key, and provides the public part of the RSA key to Bootgen. The private keys do not leave the HSM. The BIF for Bootgen HSM mode uses public keys and signatures generated by the HSM. See Using HSM Mode for more information.