Integrating Memfault into NXP i.MX 8M Mini based systems

While Memfault provides a user-friendly web interface that is consistent across various devices, there can be challenges in setting up the actual embedded system and ensuring the proper functioning of all services. However, with the assistance of Memfault's helpful integration guides and Linux SDK, the required customization is kept to a minimum.

In this article, we will showcase our attempt to integrate Memfault services into a PHYTEC phyBOARD-Polis i.MX 8M Mini (phyCORE i.MX8M Mini SoM) system using Yocto build system.

Figure 1: PHYTEC phyBOARD-i.MX8M Mini SBC

Getting the basic Memfault services up and running

Our starting point was PHYTEC’s Yocto BSP, which is necessary to get a customized Linux image running on the system. We then followed Memfault’s Linux Integration Guide, and added meta-memfault and meta-rust-bin meta-layers, which are part of the Memfault Linux SDK. Next, we proceeded to create our own meta-layer called meta-norik-memfault, which we based off of meta-memfault-example. We were able to reuse Memfault’s recipes-devtools, recipes-extended and recipes-memfault recipes. We created our own by starting with the phytec-headless-image and adding additional components:

IMAGE_INSTALL += "memfault-device-info"
	PACKAGECONFIG:pn_memfaultd := "collectd coredump logging"

We then had to append to memfaultd.conf with memfaultd.bbappend recipe:

persist_dir: "/"
	tmp_dir: "/"

as this image does not have an extra persistent partition by default and we weren’t setting up OTA updates just yet.

Before building our image, we had to set some variables in our local.conf:

LICENSE_FLAGS_ACCEPTED:append = " commercial_memfaultd"
	MEMFAULT_DEVICE_ID = "phytec_polis_1"
	MEMFAULT_PROJECT_KEY = <project_key>

The development board we were targeting was the PHYTEC phyBOARD-Polis i.MX8M Mini PB-02820-001.A2, hence the hardware revision “A2”. Our distro of choice was “ampliphy-vendor”.

And that was all. We now have a buildable image that is ready for testing.

Adding Memfault’s OTA updates capability

After confirming that all Memfault services, except OTA updates, are functioning correctly, we proceeded to integrate SWUpdate. By default, PHYTEC's BSP utilizes RAUC for OTA updates, but we chose to follow Memfault's guide and use SWUpdate instead.d adding additional components

We began by adding the meta-swupdate layer to our Yocto setup and copying over recipes-support from meta-memfault-example into our layer. The recipes required no modification.

Next, we had to set up SD-card partitioning. We opted for an A/B partitioning scheme (most common for embedded systems), with the layout depicted in Figure 1.

Figure 2: A/B Partitioning scheme of the system image

We’ve created a custom swupdate-sdimage.wks script and a machine configuration file in order to modify the PHYTEC BSP presets. Our custom machine configuration file contained the following entries:

WKS_FILES:mx8m-mainline-bsp = "swupdate-sdimage.wks"
	# 1 = SD card, 2 = eMMC
	EMMC_DEV:mx8mm-generic-bsp = "1"
	OTA_PARTITION_A = "mmcblk${EMMC_DEV}p2"
	OTA_PARTITION_B = "mmcblk${EMMC_DEV}p3"

Since we were flashing the image onto an SD-card, we set EMMC_DEV to 1. swupdate-sdimage.wks contained the following partitioning information:

part u-boot --source rawcopy --sourceparams="file=imx-boot" --ondisk mmc --no-table --align ${BOOTLOADER_SEEK}
	# Copy the u-boot environment to the predefined offset 0x3e0000
	part u-boot-env --source rawcopy --sourceparams="file=u-boot-env.bin" --ondisk mmc --no-table --offset 7936s --fixed-size 64k
	part --source bootimg-partition --fstype=vfat --label boot --ondisk mmc --active --align 4096 --size ${WKS_BOOTIMAGESIZE}
	part / --source rootfs --fstype=ext4 --label root_a --ondisk mmc --use-uuid
	part / --source rootfs --fstype=ext4 --label root_b --ondisk mmc --use-uuid
	part /data --fstype=ext4 --label data --ondisk mmc --fixed-size 64
	bootloader --timeout=0

After each software update, SWUpdate writes information about the new root file system partition to a U-Boot environment variable so that the system can boot it on the next reboot. To avoid the need to perform this step through the bootloader, we have decided to include the boot environment in the image itself. To generate the flashable u-boot-env.bin, we have created a recipe that invokes the U-Boot tool mkenvimage as part of the system image build process.

Next, we had to adapt the SWUpdate configuration files. On PHYTEC’s BSP, the number of the root partition is stored in the environment variable mmcroot, and the generated rootfs archives are to be flashed at location / (root). This is reflected in the modifications to Memfault’s default

images: (
													filename = "base-image-__MACHINE.tar.gz";
													type = "archive";
													compressed = "zlib";
													device = "/dev/__OTA_PARTITION_A";
													filesystem = "ext4";
													path = "/";
									uboot: (
													name = "mmcroot";
													value = "2";

As a final step, we had to create a base-files_%.bbappend in which we appended /etc/fstab to mount the persistent /data partition:

do_install:append () {
			# Mount the persistent storgae used by Memfault
			echo "/dev/mmcblk${EMMC_DEV}p4  /data ext4  defaults  0  0" >> ${D}${sysconfdir}/fstab

Performance monitoring & metrics

With Memfault one can monitor performance and metrics for a specific device or for a fleet of devices. To see performance details for a specific device, go to: Fleet →Devices and select a device.

In Timeline tab we can observe multiple performance parameters of the device between two points in time.

To test how performance is shown on the charts, we created a script that stressed the system for 30 minutes every 2 hours (using cron), and left it running for two days. Stress test results are shown in the image below. Memfault can thus be used for the detailed performance monitoring of a device.

In the Reboots tab, we can also observe when device reboots occurred, type (cause) of the reboot and software version currently running on the device.

We can also monitor performance for entire device fleet using metrics, located under Dashboards→Metrics. Here we can add charts for Metrics and Issues for the fleet. We can choose from 7 different types of aggregations (Precentiles, Min/Mean/Max, Sum, etc.) and 2 Rollup types (Over time, By Cohort version or Software version).

Using these charts one can easily compare performance of different versions of device software. For easier comparisons Memfault can normalize values by calculating a value per 1000 devices. This is useful for comparing device sets of different sizes.

If we want to add a specific system metric that we would like to observe, we needs to configure it as attribute and timeseries. This can be done by going to Settings→Metrics. A list of metrics will appear where we can choose a specific metric to add as an attribute and timeseries. I.e. for CPU percent system sum:

We can now add a new chart in Metrics tab shown previously. Chart will be updated when new data is available.

Additionally, application-specific metrics, such as battery life, connectivity, and flash usage, can be effectively monitored by enabling them within the application code.

Crash Analytics

Devices in a fleet can upload diagnostics data to Memfault which analyzes the data. Detected problems are converted into Traces, similar Traces are then grouped into an Issue.

To use this, coredump support needs to be enabled. We must build Linux kernel with the following options enabled:


Configure Yocto to generate an image with DEBUGFS support:

# Support memfault-cli upload-yocto-symbols command
	DEPENDS:append = " elfutils-native"

Test the integration with memfaultctl using trigger-coredump command:

# memfaultctl trigger-coredump

Force memfaultd to sync data immediately (if developer mode is not active).

# memfaultctl sync

If the integration is set up correctly and data collection is enabled, a new issue will appear in the project’s Issues page:

For example, one can create another “test” issue with the following line:

# kill -SEGV $$

Like expected, this will produce additional issue:

By clicking on the Issue we can observe Threads, Registers & Locals, Globals & Statics ISR Analysis and MPU, all of which are useful when debugging.


Integrating Memfault into your embedded system can be a straightforward process, as we have demonstrated. If your system already uses SWUpdate, many steps can be skipped. The meta-memfault-example is a useful resource to start with. Many of the examples can be applied to integrate Memfault into an actual product. Additionally, the inclusion of support for Raspberry Pi provides insight into the requirements for running Memfault on an embedded device.

We, here at Norik Systems, are pleased to report that all Memfault features worked flawlessly during our experimentation. Therefore, we recommend giving Memfault a try if you are seeking a remote administration platform for your embedded fleet.