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ARM: executing code at a specific address in RAM

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I want to run a routine in RAM. Unfortunately, it must be located in a place that is shared as data buffer. So the routine must be copied to RAM before the respective activity starts, because data may have overwritten the routine, if it would be loaded at startup of the application.

How could this be done?


With a scatter file, create a region at the exact address needed, and give it a name. Then place the code (or data) with attribute((section("name"))). This attribute works for functions and for variables. Alternatively #pragma arm section or for assembly code, use AREA.

There are three parts needed to set this up:

  1. The code, that should be copied on demand, and that data buffer get placed in a separate sections. With the help of that, we can put all the stuff for this task into a separate execution regions.

    This example places a function in a separate region:

    __attribute__( ( section ( "RAMCODESECTION" ) ) ) void run_in_ram( void )
      __nop( ) ;
    The code in RAM should not have any dependencies to code in flash, which might become inaccessible, while the code in RAM executes.

    This example places a variable in a separate region:

    __attribute__( ( section ( "TEMPDATASECTION" ), zero_init ) ) int foo ;
    Note, that this object also will not get initialized at startup, so it can specifically put in the ZI section.
  2. To prevent the linker from loading the code at startup and to share the area with other data, like the data buffer, the OVERLAY attribute is used on the execution regions of the ram code and for the other regions that share this space in the scatter file. This can then look like this:
    LR_IROM1 0x08000000 0x0007FF00  {    ; load region size_region
      RW_CODE 0x2000B000 OVERLAY 0x00001000  {  ; RW data
      RW_TEMP 0x2000B000 OVERLAY 0x00001000  {  ; RW data
  3. As there is no automatism to get the code in the RAM, this needs to be done manually. To know, what data needs to be copied from and to which addresses, the linker image symbols can be used. This makes the copying simple.
    extern char Image$$RW_CODE$$Base ;
    extern char Image$$RW_CODE$$Length ;
    extern char Load$$RW_CODE$$Base ;
    int load_ramcode( void )
      memcpy( &Image$$RW_CODE$$Base,
              ( size_t )&Load$$RW_CODE$$Length ) ) ;
  4. A full example is attached to review the suggested approach of this article in detail.




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Last Reviewed: Friday, November 9, 2018

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