Software-over-the-air (SOTA) versus Firmware-over-the-air (FOTA) and JamaicaCAR
David Beberman
ESE Kongress 2016


Firmware-over-the-air (FOTA) updates refer to downloading either a complete replacement for a specific firmware image in a device or ECU's FLASH, or a patch to an existing firmware image, and updating the FLASH with the changes. The “over-the-air” part refers to using a cell modem data link, a Bluetooth link, a WiFi link, or some other network data link connection. The “firmware” part refers to a monolithic software package that is burned into the FLASH ROM, and loaded by the CPU at the next reset or power cycle. The firmware image includes a built-in bootstrap loader, and some mix of an operating system and built-in applications. In the usual case, the firmware image is self-contained and does not load any additional software components from an external filesystem.

Whether or not the FOTA download is a complete firmware image or a patch to an existing firmware image relates to the size of the download. A complete firmware image is likely to take longer to download and potentially longer to update the target ECU's FLASH. Conceptually FOTA for a complete firmware image and a patch to a firmware image is identical.


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