A new firmware named beta and a bootloader is being released by Raspberry PI Foundation that can quickly boot the Raspberry Pi 4 from a USB mass storage device.
The new firmware and bootloader may be useful to owners of Raspberry Pi 4 who want the option to boot from a faster USB mass storage system rather than using an SD card.
Launched in June 2019, one of the feature highlights of Raspberry Pi 4 Model B was USB 3.0 that made faster storage possible than previous versions of the computer.
Unlike previous versions, the Raspberry Pi 4 did not support USB mass storage boot that prevented users from installing an operating system from a USB mass storage device, thus having an anomaly, which the foundation promised to solve in the upcoming updates.
This software update is almost ready and is made available in beta form for the users who are willing to accept bugs, failures, and errors in documentation.
Tim Gover, Principal Software Engineer for Raspberry Pi Trading, said, “This is a beta release. If you aren’t already comfortable with manual firmware updates, then please wait until this is available in a standard release. It won’t be very long.”
The change in the design of the bootup procedure in the Raspberry Pi 4 is what demands the firmware update.
Rather than permanently burning the boot code into the System-on-Chip (SoC) ROM, the boot code of Raspberry Pi 4 is stored in SPI-attached, Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EEPROM) that can be modified.
Raspberry Pi reported the boot code could not be fixed permanently into the ROM as the USB was moved to a PCIe bus, and that there is a new Gigabit Ethernet set into the driver.
In an update to the Raspberry Pi 4 boot loader website, Gover provided instructions for booting from a USB storage card reader.
“Initially, we recommend using a USB pen drive or SSD. Hard drives will probably require a powered HUB, and in all cases, you should verify that the devices work correctly from within Raspbian using an SD card boot,” Raspberry PI Foundation quoted.