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Using the K400 PSE with Ubuntu for Intel IoT

Installing Ubuntu for Intel IoT

Ubuntu Desktop 20.04 for Intel IoT platforms is a version of Ubuntu that is validated to run a 5.13-intel kernel.

This version of Ubuntu is available from Canonical at https://ubuntu.com/download/iot/intel-iotg, and can be installed like any other Ubuntu release.

For the standard Ubuntu experience, download and install Ubuntu Desktop 20.04, instead of ‘Ubuntu Core’

IMPORTANT In this release of Ubuntu, the 'pinctrl_elkhartlake' driver will timeout during startup and crash during shutdown. Until a BIOS update is available that addresses the issue, it is recommended that you disable this driver module.

One method is to add "modprobe.blacklist=pinctrl_elkhartlake" to the kernel command line.

Installing the PSE Driver

Several system hardware interfaces, including CAN and DIO, are managed through the system’s Programmable Services Engine.

The Elkhart Lake PSE can be managed over ISHTP/HECI from the host processor: This driver creates and manages a pse character device, which allows userspace applications to read and write data over the underlying ISHTP bus driver.

You can download the driver files and installation bundle here: PSE HECI Driver v1.0.0.

Or download and extract them from the command line:

$ wget https://static.onlogic.com/resources/firmware/utilities/pse_heci_v100.zip && unzip pse_heci_v100.zip -d pse_heci && cd pse_heci
NOTE This driver was written for the 5.13.0-intel kernel. Running it against any other kernel version may require modification. At a minimum, the system requires an ISHTP bus device with UUID bb579a2e-cc54-4450-b1d0-5e7520dcad25, and the bundled additional source headers (intel-ish-hid-5.13) will need to be updated.


To build and install the pse kernel module automatically, simply run:

$ sudo chmod +x install.sh && sudo ./install.sh

This will check if the pre-compiled kernel modules are compatible with your system, and either install them or compile new ones in-place. If all goes well, you can move on to Using the PSE.


It is also possible to manually build and install the PSE kernel module, which may be required if you intend to run a signed kernel.

Build Preparation

Install the prerequisites for building kernel modules:

$ sudo apt-get install build-essential flex bison libssl-dev libelf-dev

Download the kernel headers for the current kernel:

$ sudo apt-get install linux-headers-$(uname -r)


You should now be able to build with:

$ make

This will generate the kernel modules files, which can be loaded and checked with:

$ sudo insmod pse.ko && dmesg
$ cd examples
$ make version
$ sudo ./version
$ sudo rmmod pse


Permanently installing the PSE driver can be done by copying it to your modules directory:

$ sudo cp pse.ko /lib/modules/$(uname -r)/kernel/drivers/hid/intel-ish-hid/
$ echo 'pse' | sudo tee -a /etc/modules-load.d/modules.conf
$ sudo depmod -a

After this, the PSE module should be loaded and ready for use on each boot. You can confirm this with:

$ sudo reboot now
$ sudo lsmod | grep pse

Using the PSE

The programmable services engine consumes commands in the form of packed header and body data structures. The complexity of these structures can be completely ignored by using the pre-compiled command-line application available from the OnLogic Support Site (Ubuntu release TBD).

However, for tight application integration, it is possible to interface with the PSE directly from your software stack by reading and writing to the PSE character file (/dev/pse). A complete example that establishes a connection to the PSE and reads the firmware version information is included in the examples directory, and can be compiled with:

$ cd examples
$ make version
$ sudo ./version

All source code referenced in the instructions below is included in full context in the examples directory. Additional example code is provided for using the CAN and DIO peripherals, as well as sample code for configuring the system’s automotive features. You can build all targets with:

$ make all

1. Establish a Connection

Before communication with the PSE can begin, the host client must establish a connection with the firmware client. This is performed by sending the ‘client connection’ IOCTL to the device file:

/// ... int pse_client_connect(void)
int fd, ret;
struct ishtp_cc_data cc_data;

/// Prep input connection data
memcpy(&(cc_data.in_client_uuid), &pse_smhi_guid, sizeof(pse_smhi_guid));

/// Open the pse character device (fails if not root)
fd = open(PSE_CHRDEV, O_RDWR);
if (fd <= 0) {
    printf("Failed to open the pse device file\n");
    return fd;

/// Send the connection IOCTL
ret = ioctl(fd, IOCTL_ISHTP_CONNECT_CLIENT, &cc_data);
if (ret) {
    printf("Failed to connect to the PSE over ISHTP/HECI\n");
    return ret;

/// Return the file descriptor for use
return fd;

Once the connection has been established and returned, it is possible to send commands to the PSE.

2. Send a Command

Commands sent to the programmable services engine can either be header-only ‘short’ commands, or complete header + body ‘long’ commands.

The header portion of the command is as 48-bit wide structure that is transmitted as raw data to the PSE:

NOTE When sending a command the 'is response' and 'status' bytes are ignored; these are only set by the firmware endpoint when sending data back to the host.

The command header can be easily described as a packed struct in C:

typedef struct {
    // The command 'class' of this message
    uint8_t command;
    // True when the message is a response from the PSE
    bool is_response;
    // If this command has follow-on body data
    bool has_next;
    // The packed command argument; exact data depends on the command
    uint16_t argument;
    // Status of the received command when responding; zero on success
    uint8_t status;
} __packed heci_header_t;

The possible valid system commands are enumerated by the heci_command_id_t, and include:

System Info0x01Report the system firmware version number
Digital IO0x02Set and read the system’s digital IO and LEDs
UART0x03Send data over an attached UART. Allows control of automotive features
CAN Bus0x04Send and receive CAN messages
PWM0x05Manage the Pulse Width Modulation of a DIO configured as PWM
I2C0x06Send/receive I2C data (not recommended for end-user configuration)
QEP0x07Configure a group of DIOs set as a Quadrature Encoder Peripheral

The argument packing depends on this command, and is described by the *_command_t structures.

UART, I2C, PWM, and QEP all use a generic ‘operation + device’ scheme, while DIO and CAN have separate formats:


The ‘body’ portion of each command is described by another structure:

typedef struct {
    /// Indicates the format of the following data
    heci_data_kind_t kind: 8;
    /// Length, in bytes, of the data portion
    uint32_t length;
    uint32_t padding;
    /// Packed message body data
    uint8_t data[MAX_HECI_DATA_LEN];
} __packed heci_body_t;

The actual data format depends on the command sent; the can_send example function in examples/can.c shows one method for populating message data.

Once a message’s header and optional body portions are prepared, sending the command is as simple as writing to the open PSE device:

/// pse_send_command(int fd, heci_command_id_t command, uint16_t data, heci_body_t * body)

size_t len;

/// Create the initial header
heci_header_t header = {
    .status = 0,
    .is_response = 0,
    .has_next = body != NULL ? 1 : 0,
    .command = (uint8_t)command,
    .argument = data

/// Copy the header into the transmit buffer
memcpy(heci_tx_buffer, &header, sizeof(heci_header_t));

/// Add a body to the command if one is present
if (header.has_next) {
    memcpy(heci_tx_buffer + sizeof(heci_header_t), body, sizeof(heci_body_t));

    len = sizeof(heci_header_t) + sizeof(heci_body_t);
} else {
    len = sizeof(heci_header_t);

write(fd, heci_tx_buffer, len);

3. Read the Response

Any message sent to the PSE will receive a response from the embedded controller. The response message format is identical to the transmit format, and will always include the status of the last command received.

Some commands (like reading a CAN message), will result in additional data being returned, as indicated by the has_next flag. Application code may check this flag to determine if it should continue reading data:

/// pse_read_response(int fd, heci_header_t *header, heci_body_t *body)

/// NOTE: Some file preparation occurs here; check sample code

/// Read the message header
length = read(fd, data, sizeof(heci_header_t));
if (length <= 0 || length != sizeof(heci_header_t)) {
    printf("Failed reading header from the pse file (%i)\n", length);
    return length;

memcpy(header, data, sizeof(heci_header_t));

/// If the header has followup data, read it
if (header->has_next && !body) {
    printf("Warning: Returned body data was dropped!\n");
    return length;
} else if (header->has_next) {
    length = read(fd, data + sizeof(heci_header_t), sizeof(heci_body_t));
    if (length <= 0 || length != sizeof(heci_body_t)) {
        printf("Failed reading body from the pse file (%i)\n", length);
        return length;

    memcpy(body, data + sizeof(heci_header_t), sizeof(heci_body_t));

    length = sizeof(heci_body_t) + sizeof(heci_header_t);
} else {
    length = sizeof(heci_header_t);

4. Minimal Example

In the provided sample code, the files examples/pse.c and examples/pse.h provide some helpful abstraction to simplify this process. For instance, reading the PSE firmware version can be performed with the following code:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <unistd.h> // close

#include "pse.h" // pse_client_connect, pse_send_command, pse_read_response, heci_types

static int get_version(int fd) {
    int ret;
    heci_body_t body;
    heci_version_t * version;

    ret = pse_command_checked(fd, kHECI_SYS_INFO, 0, NULL, &body);

    if (ret < 0) {
        printf("Could not read the version information: %i\n", ret);
        return ret;
    } else if (ret == 0) {
        printf("No version data returned from the PSE\n");
        return -1;

    version = (heci_version_t *)body.data;

    printf("Version: %u.%u.%u.%u\n",
        version->major, version->minor, version->hotfix, version->build);

    return 0;

int main(void) {
    int fd;
    int ret;

    fd = pse_client_connect();

    if (fd <= 0) {
        printf("Failed to establish a connection with the PSE\n");
        return -1;

    ret = get_version(fd);


    return ret;
Updated on April 20, 2022

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