Board Porting Guide

When building an application you must specify the target hardware and the exact board or model. Specifying the board name results in a binary that is suited for the target hardware by selecting the right Zephyr features and components and setting the right Zephyr configuration for that specific target hardware.

A board is defined as a special configuration of an SoC with possible additional components. For example, a board might have sensors and flash memory implemented as additional features on top of what the SoC provides. Such additional hardware is configured and referenced in the Zephyr board configuration.

The board implements at least one SoC and thus inherits all of the features that are provided by the SoC. When porting a board to Zephyr, you should first make sure the SoC is implemented in Zephyr.

Hardware Configuration Hierarchy

Hardware definitions in Zephyr follow a well-defined hierarchy of configurations and layers, below are the layers from top to bottom:

  • Board
  • SoC
  • SoC Series
  • SoC Family
  • CPU Core
  • Architecture

This design contributes to code reuse and implementation of device drivers and features at the bottom of the hierarchy making a board configuration as simple as a selection of features that are implemented by the underlying layers. The figures below shows this hierarchy with a few example of boards currently available in the source tree:

Configuration Hierarchy

Configuration Hierarchy

Hierarchy Example

Board FRDM K64F nRF52 NITROGEN nRF51XX Quark SE C1000 Devboard Arduino 101
SOC MK64F12 nRF52832 nRF51XX Quark SE C1000 Curie
SOC Series Kinetis K6x Series Nordic NRF52 Nordic NRF51 Quark SE Quark SE
SOC Family NXP Kinetis Nordic NRF5 Nordic NRF5 Quark Quark
CPU Core Cortex-M4 Cortex-M4 Cortex-M0+ Lakemount Lakemount
Architecture ARM ARM ARM x86 x86


If your CPU architecture is already supported by Zephyr, there is no architecture work involved in porting to your board. If your CPU architecture is not supported by the Zephyr kernel, you can add support by following the instructions available at Architecture Porting Guide.

CPU Core

Some OS code depends on the CPU core that your board is using. For example, a given CPU core has a specific assembly language instruction set, and may require special cross compiler or compiler settings to use the appropriate instruction set.

If your CPU architecture is already supported by Zephyr, there is no CPU core work involved in porting to your platform or board. You need only to select the appropriate CPU in your configuration and the rest will be taken care of by the configuration system in Zephyr which will select the features implemented by the corresponding CPU.


This layer implements most of the features that need porting and is split into three layers to allow for code reuse when dealing with implementations with slight differences.

SoC Family

This layer is a container of all SoCs of the same class that, for example implement one single type of CPU core but differ in peripherals and features. The base hardware will in most cases be the same across all SoCs and MCUs of this family.

SoC Series

Moving closer to the SoC, the series is derived from an SoC family. A series is defined by a feature set that serves the purpose of distinguishing different SoCs belonging to the same family.


Finally, an SoC is actual hardware component that is physically available on a board.


A board implements an SoC with all its features, together with peripherals available on the board that differentiates the board with additional interfaces and features not available in the SoC.

While adding your board support, make sure to add it to the list of platforms in the appropriate architecture .ini file in scripts/sanity_chk/arches/.