Build SOF with Zephyr

This guide describes how to build and run Sound Open Firmware as a Zephyr application.


The following example uses $ZEPHYR_WORKSPACE as the working directory for both SOF and Zephyr projects.


  • The easiest way to build Zephyr is to use its recommended toolchain which is included in its SDK. Refer to Install Zephyr SDK for details.

  • Install west. Zephyr uses west as a source management and building system. Follow the Zephyr Getting Started guide for dependencies and for the west installation.

Clone and initialize SOF project

Initialize the west manifest $ZEPHYR_WORKSPACE/sof/west.yml using the west tool:

  • Clone the SOF repository:

    west init -m
  • Or initialize the west manifest from the existing SOF clone. Note that when using the Python convenience script, as described in the next section, this is not mandatory.

    west init -l ./sof


Since the Zephyr project also uses the west manifest, your west tool might already be initialized to manifest Zephyr. In this case, west issues the following error during initialization:
“FATAL ERROR: already initialized in $ZEPHYR_WORKSPACE, aborting.”

To verify that the manifest is currently used by the west tool, execute the following command from the $ZEPHYR_WORKSPACE directory:
west config -l.

If command output shows the following, remove the $ZEPHYR_WORKSPACE/.west directory and reinitialize the west manifest using one of the two methods described above:


The SOF project must be cloned to the sof directory because this name is hardcoded in the west manifest file. Failure to do so may result in SOF dependencies being cloned into a newly created $ZEPHYR_WORKSPACE/sof/rimage directory along with other undesirable consequences.

All commands described in the guide from this point should be executed from the $ZEPHYR_WORKSPACE directory.

Check out and build using Python convenience script

The SOF project offers a Python convenience script, ./sof/scripts/, that provides a friendly build process for the end user. It is a wrapper for a west tool that performs steps described in the Check out and build using west tool directly section below.

This script can be used on both Windows and Linux operating systems. Note that it will be removed when the SOF project creates better integration with west tool commands.

The script automates the following steps that are required to build firmware for the SOF platform:
  • Initializes your west tool to SOF’s west manifest.

  • Clones and checks out SOF and Zephyr dependencies.

  • Builds a firmware .elf file for the requested platform.

  • Builds a rimage tool.

  • Uses the rimage tool and a private key to sign the .elf file. It produces a final firmware image file with the .ri extension.

  • Uses the smex tool to generate debugging symbols file with the .ldc extension.

A list of platforms that can be built with the script is shown in this help message:
./sof/scripts/ --help
Usage example 1:

You cloned the SOF project and you want to build firmware for the Tigerlake platform.

./sof/scripts/ -u tgl

Running this command will:

  • Initialize west to the ./sof/west.yml manifest if it is not already initialized.

  • Clone and check out projects to the revision defined in the ./sof/west.yml file:

    • SOFs submodules (Rimage and Tomlc99)

    • Zephyr project

    • Zephyr project dependencies needed by SOF in $ZEPHYR_WORKSPACE/modules directory

  • Build a signed firmware image ./build-tgl/zephyr/zephyr.ri and debug symbols file ./build-sof-staging/sof/sof-tgl.ldc.


You may wish to rebuild all files from scratch. To do this, add a -p flag to the script invocation. To provide better build verbosity, use the -v flag. Make sure to check --help to see all build options.

Usage example 2:

Your environment is set up as a cloned SOF project and you are working on a fork/branch of the Zephyr and Rimage submodules. You want to build a Tigerlake platform with your changes.

./sof/scripts/ tgl

Running this command will:

  • Initialize west to the ./sof/west.yml manifest if it is not already initialized.

  • Build a signed firmware image ./build-tgl/zephyr/zephyr.ri and debug symbols file ./build-sof-staging/sof/sof-tgl.ldc.

  • Skip cloning dependencies and check them out to revisions from the ./sof/west.yml manifest.

Usage example 3:

Your environment is set up as a cloned SOF project and you are working on a fork/branch of the Zephyr and Rimage submodules. You want to restore default revisions for SOF dependencies from the ./sof/west.yml manifest.

./sof/scripts/ -u

Running this command will:

  • Initialize west to the ./sof/west.yml manifest if it is not already initialized.

  • Clone and checkout projects to revisions defined in the ./sof/west.yml file.

  • Skip building the firmware image.

Output directory

For convenience, the script copies all firmware files into a single, staging directory:

$ tree build-sof-staging/

├── sof
│   ├── community
│   │   ├── sof-apl.ri
│   │   ├── sof-imx8.ri
│   │   └── sof-tgl-h.ri

Check out and build using west tool directly

  1. Clone and check out SOF dependencies such as submodules, the Zephyr project, and some of its modules needed by SOF:

    west update


    This command will check out revisions specified in the $ZEPHYR_WORKSPACE/sof/west.yml file for the following projects:
    • Rimage (SOF submodule)

    • Tomlc99 (Rimage submodule)

    • Zephyr

    • projects in $ZEPHYR_WORKSPACE/modules directory.

    Make sure you back up your work before changing revisions! This will not affect your SOF project revision.

  2. Build a board. Make sure to use the appropriate Zephyr SDK or other toolchain of your choice. Boards to build are listed in the $ZEPHYR_WORKSPACE/sof/app/boards directory.

    west build --build-dir build-tgl --board intel_adsp_cavs25 ./sof/app

    Note that the SOF project defines platform names that have Zephyr board counterparts. In the above example, the Tigerlake platform matches the inteL_adsp_cavs25 Zephyr board. This is why the output directory is named build-tgl; however, you may use any name you wish.


    To add verbosity to the build output use the -v -v flags. Example:

    west -v -v build --build-dir build-tgl --board intel_adsp_cavs25 ./sof/app

    To perform a complete clean rebuild, use the –pristine flag. Example:

    west -v -v build --build-dir build-tgl --pristine always --board intel_adsp_cavs25 ./sof/app

    The .elf file produced by the west build is missing a manifest and signature. A a result, you must sign the file using the rimage tool and a private key to generate the final firmware image (.ri file).

  3. Build the rimage tool by running the following:

    cmake -B ./build-rimage -S ./sof/rimage
    cmake --build ./build-rimage
  4. Sign the firmware using the rimage tool and a private key by running the following:

    west sign --build-dir ./build-tgl -t rimage --tool-path ./build-rimage/rimage --tool-data ./sof/rimage/config -- -k ./sof/keys/otc_private_key_3k.pem

    The signed output firmware image file is ./build-tgl/zephyr/zephyr.ri .


    The SOF project provides some pre-generated key pairs of different lengths:
    • ./sof/keys/otc_private_key_3k.pem + ./sof/keys/otc_public_key_3k.pem

    • ./sof/keys/otc_private_key.pem + ./sof/keys/otc_public_key.pem

    You may wish to generate your own set of keys for firmware signing.

  5. (Optional) Generate debug symbols.

    The output file ./build-tgl/zephyr/zephyr.ldc may be used for reading firmware logs.


  1. Copy the firmware image(s) to the usual location on all your target systems. Example:

    sudo rsync -a build-sof-staging/sof/ testsystemN.local:/lib/firmware/intel/sof/

    Note that rsync also works locally and, unlike cp -R, it is always idempotent. You may want to use the rsync -a --delete option to make absolutely sure you’re not running some older version, but do so only after first backing up your original sof/ directory. The --delete option is dangerous; use it only in very well-tested scripts.

    Also make sure nothing in /lib/firmware/updates takes precedence. Refer to Firmware search paths.

  2. Reboot the system. Note that the location and name of your SOF firmware image may vary by system. Search your kernel logs with journalctl -k -g sof, looking for a line such as the following to identify which file under /lib/firmware/ your hardware is using:

    sof-audio-pci 0000:00:0e.0: request_firmware intel/sof/community/sof-apl.ri successful

  3. Verify that the new firmware is being used by running the following:

    dmesg | grep zephyr

    You should see a line such as the following:

    sof-audio-pci 0000:00:0e.0: Firmware info: used compiler GCC 9:2:0 zephyr used optimization flags -Os

For firmware log extraction, use zephyr/boards/xtensa/intel_adsp_cavs15/tools/

You might also need to build and update your system audio topology file. For details see Build toolchains and SOF from sources.


  1. The west tool version is older than the minimal version requirement defined in the ./sof/west.yml manifest.

    The manifest file defines the minimal yaml schema version that sets compatibility with west tool according to Zephyr documentation. If your west tools version is not sufficient to process the manifest file, west raises an exception (reference to west 0.12.0 for Windows):
    west.manifest.ManifestVersionError: ('0.13', WindowsPath('$ZEPHYR_WORKSPACE/.west/manifest-tmp/west.yml'))
    In this example, ./sof/west.yml defines minimal version as 0.13 while the west tool used has version 0.12.0. Update your west tool to a newer version.