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Serial Ports

Overview

Starting with firmware released with ChipWhisperer 5.5, ChipWhisperer capture devices can enumerate as both a custom USB device, as before, as well as a USB CDC serial port.

This new serial port allows you to use a serial client, such as Tera Term or PuTTY, to send and receive USART data on the ChipWhisperer in the same way target module is normally used. These two USART methods can be used individually as they have separate RX buffer, or both at the same time, though we recommend that you don't send messages on both at the same time.

This new serial port has a few advantages:

  • Periodic polling by the OS means dropped RX data should be rare
  • The RX buffer on the OS means reading serial data costs almost no program time
    • With the cw target module, reading serial data, for example, slows down a capture loop
  • Can send/receive serial data using either Python, or a serial client (though not both at the same time)

As well as a few disadvantages:

  • Need to keep track of a serial port (/dev/ttyACM* or COMX) if not using pyserial
    • Old versions of PySerial don't allow us to figure out the correct serial port from the custom USB interface, meaning the serial port must also be input manually.
  • USART settings can be changed by the serial client, which will mess up your communication if you're using the target module to communicate with the target.

This last concern is addressed by the ChipWhisperer's option to ignore CDC USART settings changes (typically scope.io.cdc_settings).

If you're connected to the scope in Python, you can see the serial port name by calling scope.get_serial_ports(). See [its ReadTheDocs page]https://chipwhisperer.readthedocs.io/en/latest/api.html#chipwhisperer.capture.scopes.OpenADC.get_serial_ports) for more information.

Examples

Some ideas for how to use the serial port:

  1. To monitor serial data coming back from the target during glitching
  2. As your sole communication method
  3. With the SimpleSerial2_CDC target object, offering a small improvement to capture speed.

Tera Term Monitoring Password Check

Tera Term Monitoring Memory Dump Glitch

Troubleshooting

Permission Denied on Linux

Ensure you're a member of the dialout group:

usermod -a -G dialout $USER

Unable to communicate on Linux

Ensure your serial port is set up properly. Some serial programs seem to have flow control on by default, which can mess with serial communication.

modemmanager Issues

The program modemmanager, which comes installed by default on some versions of Ubuntu, sends data over all /dev/ttyACM* AT command capable serial ports to try to find modems. In modemmanager >= 1.12, this behaviour can be disabled by adding ENV{ID_MM_DEVICE_IGNORE}="1" to the device rule in /etc/udev/rules.d/50-newae.rules.

In older versions of modemmanager, it appears to be impossible to disable this behaviour if strict filtering is used. Unfortunately, some versions of Ubuntu, such as 18.04 have both strict filtering and an old version of modemmanager, meaning you'll need to remove modemmanager to use the ChipWhisperer's serial port.

See this StackOverflow post for more information.

This issue will be fixed in a future ChipWhisperer update, likely 5.5.1 with firmware version x.31.