Updating Firmware

Received a message about a ChipWhisperer firmware update being available? Accidentally erased the firmware on your ChipWhisperer? If so, this page contains all the information you need to get your device up and running again!


All ChipWhisperer scopes and FPGA targets have a ROM base bootloader, meaning it is effectively impossible to “brick” your ChipWhisperer by updating or erasing its firmware.


This page only concerns firmware for ChipWhisperer scopes and FPGA boards like the CW310 or CW305, not for integrated targets or CW308 target boards


This update method for updating firmware only works for ChipWhisperer 5.6 and newer. For ChipWhisperer versions earlier than 5.6, see Firmware Update.


Windows Prerequisites

If you are already running ChipWhisperer natively on Windows, no steps are required before upgrading or flashing new firmware onto your ChipWhisperer.

If you have ChipWhisperer installed and are unable to connect due to not having the correct driver, follow the steps shown at How to Change Drivers.

Linux Prerequisites

If you are running natively on Linux, you will need to ensure you have access to the serial ports. As of ChipWhisperer 5.6, a rule in chipwhisperer/hardware/50-newae.rules will give serial port access to the current user

Older versions do not include this rule, so it is recommended to replace /etc/udev/rules.d/50-newae.rules with ChipWhisperer 5.6’s chipwhisperer/hardware/50-newae.rules, then run $ sudo udevadm control --reload-rules

Mac Prerequisites

Coming soon!

VirtualBox Prerequisites

In addition to the prerequisites for your guest system, you will also need to ensure that the serial bootloader is being passed through from your host, like with your other ChipWhisperer devices. To add a USB passthrough filter for the bootloader, go to the settings for your VM > USB and create a new USB filter with the following settings:

  • Name: ATSAM Bootloader

  • Vendor ID: 03eb

  • Product ID: 6124

This should already be done on the ChipWhisperer VM, but may not be present on older VMs.

Upgrading Firmware

If you just need to update the firmware on your ChipWhisperer, the easiest way is to connect to your ChipWhisperer as usual, then call the upgrade_firmware() method. For example, upgrading a ChipWhisperer-Lite:

>>> import chipwhisperer as cw
>>> scope = cw.scope()
>>> scope.upgrade_firmware()
Entering bootloader mode...
Detected com port COM13
Loading cwlite firmware...
Programming file SAM3U_CW1173.bin...
Verify OK!
Upgrade successful

If you don’t see the “Resetting…” line, you’ll need to power cycle your ChipWhisperer.

Programming New Firmware

If you’ve accidentally erased the firmware on your ChipWhisperer, the best way to flash new firmware is to use ChipWhisperer’s program_sam_firmware() function. You will need to specify the device you are upgrading from the following list:

  • ‘cwlite’

  • ‘cw1200’

  • ‘cwnano’

  • ‘cwhusky’

  • ‘cwbergen’

  • ‘cw305’

For example, to flash new firmware to a CW305:

>>> import chipwhisperer as cw
>>> cw.program_sam_firmware(hardware_type='cw305')

Old Firmware Upgrade

For ChipWhisperer versions earlier than 5.6, see Firmware Update.


Firmware upgrade failed

If scope.upgrade_firmware()/target.upgrade_firmware() fails for any reason, use cw.program_sam_firmware().

Could not find bootloader serial port

Ensure the device is plugged in. If you’re using a VM, ensure you have the USB device passed through.

Permission Error

If running on Linux, ensure you have the new 50-newae.rules file in /etc/udev/rules.d/, then run sudo udevadm control --reload-rules.

Additionally, try unplugging and replugging your ChipWhisperer. If the udev rules have been applied properly, you should see a cw_bootloader%n device in /dev/, where %n is some integer.

If you’re still unable to program new firmware, try adding your user to the dialout group:

sudo usermod -a -G dialout $USER

then logging out and back in again.

Accidentally flashed incorrect firmware

If the firmware you’ve flashed is for another NewAE device, then, as of ChipWhisperer 5.7.1 or commit 068ec19, you can use quick_firmware_erase() as follows to erase the firmware on your device:

from chipwhisperer.hardware.naeusb.naeusb import quick_firmware_erase

replacing <product_id> with the product ID of the firmware that you’ve uploaded. For example, if you’ve uploaded ChipWhisperer-Lite (0xACE2) firmware to your ChipWhisperer-Nano (0xACE0), you should use 0xACE2 as your product ID. You may find it helpful to use cw.list_devices() to list connected NewAE devices.

Otherwise, short the erase pins on your ChipWhisperer to enter bootloader mode, then flash the correct firmware onto your device.

Instructions for shorting the erase pins can be found on the documentation page for your device at https://rtfm.newae.com

If you run into any issues not covered here, or if none of these steps work for you, let us know over at https://forum.newae.com