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Core Dump

The core dump module enables dumping the CPU registers and memory content for offline debugging. This module is called when a fatal error is encountered and prints or stores data according to which backends are enabled.


Configure this module using the following options.

  • DEBUG_COREDUMP: enable the module.

Here are the options to enable output backends for core dump:

  • DEBUG_COREDUMP_BACKEND_LOGGING: use log module for core dump output.

  • DEBUG_COREDUMP_BACKEND_NULL: fallback core dump backend if other backends cannot be enabled. All output is sent to null.

Here are the choices regarding memory dump:

  • DEBUG_COREDUMP_MEMORY_DUMP_MIN: only dumps the stack of the exception thread, its thread struct, and some other bare minimal data to support walking the stack in the debugger. Use this only if absolute minimum of data dump is desired.

Additional memory can be included in a dump (even with the “DEBUG_COREDUMP_MEMORY_DUMP_MIN” config selected) through one or more coredump devices


When the core dump module is enabled, during a fatal error, CPU registers and memory content are printed or stored according to which backends are enabled. This core dump data can fed into a custom-made GDB server as a remote target for GDB (and other GDB compatible debuggers). CPU registers, memory content and stack can be examined in the debugger.

This usually involves the following steps:

  1. Get the core dump log from the device depending on enabled backends. For example, if the log module backend is used, get the log output from the log module backend.

  2. Convert the core dump log into a binary format that can be parsed by the GDB server. For example, scripts/coredump/ can be used to convert the serial console log into a binary file.

  3. Start the custom GDB server using the script scripts/coredump/ with the core dump binary log file, and the Zephyr ELF file as parameters.

  4. Start the debugger corresponding to the target architecture.


Developers for Intel ADSP CAVS 15-25 platforms using ZEPHYR_TOOLCHAIN_VARIANT=zephyr should use the debugger in the xtensa-intel_apl_adsp toolchain of the SDK.


This example uses the log module backend tied to serial console. This was done on X86 Emulation (QEMU) where a null pointer was dereferenced.

This is the core dump log from the serial console, and is stored in coredump.log:

Booting from ROM..*** Booting Zephyr OS build zephyr-v2.3.0-1840-g7bba91944a63  ***
Hello World! qemu_x86
E: Page fault at address 0x0 (error code 0x2)
E: Linear address not present in page tables
E:   PDE: 0x0000000000115827 Writable, User, Execute Enabled
E:   PTE: Non-present
E: EAX: 0x00000000, EBX: 0x00000000, ECX: 0x00119d74, EDX: 0x000003f8
E: ESI: 0x00000000, EDI: 0x00101aa7, EBP: 0x00119d10, ESP: 0x00119d00
E: EFLAGS: 0x00000206 CS: 0x0008 CR3: 0x00119000
E: call trace:
E: EIP: 0x00100459
E:      0x00100477 (0x0)
E:      0x00100492 (0x0)
E:      0x001004c8 (0x0)
E:      0x00105465 (0x105465)
E:      0x00101abe (0x0)
E: >>> ZEPHYR FATAL ERROR 0: CPU exception on CPU 0
E: Current thread: 0x00119080 (unknown)
E: #CD:5a4501000100050000000000
E: #CD:4101003800
E: #CD:0e0000000200000000000000749d1100f803000000000000009d1100109d1100
E: #CD:00000000a71a100059041000060200000800000000901100
E: #CD:4d010080901100e0901100
E: #CD:0100000000000000000000000180000000000000000000000000000000000000
E: #CD:00000000000000000000000000000000e364100000000000000000004c9c1100
E: #CD:000000000000000000000000b49911000004000000000000fc03000000000000
E: #CD:4d0100b4991100b49d1100
E: #CD:f8030000020000000200000002000000f8030000fd03000a02000000dc9e1100
E: #CD:149a1160fd03000002000000dc9e1100249a110087201000049f11000a000000
E: #CD:349a11000a4f1000049f11000a9e1100449a11000a8b10000200000002000000
E: #CD:449a1100388b1000049f11000a000000549a1100ad201000049f11000a000000
E: #CD:749a11000a201000049f11000a000000649a11000a201000049f11000a000000
E: #CD:749a1100e8201000049f11000a000000949a1100890b10000a0000000a000000
E: #CD:a49a1100890b10000a0000000a000000f8030000189b11000200000002000000
E: #CD:f49a1100289b11000a000000189b1100049b11009b0710000a000000289b1100
E: #CD:f49a110087201000049f110045000000f49a1100509011000a00000020901100
E: #CD:f49a110060901100049f1100ffffffff0000000000000000049f1100ffffffff
E: #CD:0000000000000000630b1000189b1100349b1100af0b1000630b1000289b1100
E: #CD:55891000789b11000000000020901100549b1100480000004a891000609b1100
E: #CD:649b1100d00b10004a891000709b110000000000609b11000a00000000000000
E: #CD:849b1100709b11004a89100000000000949b1100794a10000000000058901100
E: #CD:20901100c34a10000a00001734020000d001000000000000d49b110038000000
E: #CD:c49b110078481000b49911000004000000000000000000000c9c11000c9c1100
E: #CD:149c110000000000d49b110038000000f49b1100da481000b499110000040000
E: #CD:0e0000000200000000000000744d0100b4991100b49d1100009d1100109d1100
E: #CD:149c110099471000b4991100000400000800000000901100ad861000409c1100
E: #CD:349c1100e94710008090110000000000349c1100b64710008086100045000000
E: #CD:849c11002d53100000000000d09c11008090110020861000f5ffffff8c9c1100
E: #CD:000000000000000000000000a71a1000a49c1100020200008090110000000000
E: #CD:a49c1100020200000800000000000000a49c11001937100000000000d09c1100
E: #CD:0c9d0000bc9c0000b49d1100b4991100c49c1100ae37100000000000d09c1100
E: #CD:0800000000000000c888100000000000109d11005d031000d09c1100009d1100
E: #CD:109d11000000000000000000a71a1000f803000000000000749d110002000000
E: #CD:5904100008000000060200000e0000000202000002020000000000002c9d1100
E: #CD:7704100000000000d00b1000c9881000549d110000000000489d110092041000
E: #CD:00000000689d1100549d11000000000000000000689d1100c804100000000000
E: #CD:c0881000000000007c9d110000000000749d11007c9d11006554100065541000
E: #CD:00000000000000009c9d1100be1a100000000000000000000000000038041000
E: #CD:08000000020200000000000000000000f4531000000000000000000000000000
E: Halting system
  1. Run the core dump serial log converter:

    ./scripts/coredump/ coredump.log coredump.bin
  2. Start the custom GDB server:

    ./scripts/coredump/ build/zephyr/zephyr.elf coredump.bin
  3. Start GDB:

    <path to SDK>/x86_64-zephyr-elf/bin/x86_64-zephyr-elf-gdb build/zephyr/zephyr.elf
  4. Inside GDB, connect to the GDB server via port 1234:

    (gdb) target remote localhost:1234
  5. Examine the CPU registers:

    (gdb) info registers

    Output from GDB:

    eax            0x0                 0
    ecx            0x119d74            1154420
    edx            0x3f8               1016
    ebx            0x0                 0
    esp            0x119d00            0x119d00 <z_main_stack+844>
    ebp            0x119d10            0x119d10 <z_main_stack+860>
    esi            0x0                 0
    edi            0x101aa7            1055399
    eip            0x100459            0x100459 <func_3+16>
    eflags         0x206               [ PF IF ]
    cs             0x8                 8
    ss             <unavailable>
    ds             <unavailable>
    es             <unavailable>
    fs             <unavailable>
    gs             <unavailable>
  6. Examine the backtrace:

    (gdb) bt

    Output from GDB:

    #0  0x00100459 in func_3 (addr=0x0) at zephyr/rtos/zephyr/samples/hello_world/src/main.c:14
    #1  0x00100477 in func_2 (addr=0x0) at zephyr/rtos/zephyr/samples/hello_world/src/main.c:21
    #2  0x00100492 in func_1 (addr=0x0) at zephyr/rtos/zephyr/samples/hello_world/src/main.c:28
    #3  0x001004c8 in main () at zephyr/rtos/zephyr/samples/hello_world/src/main.c:42

File Format

The core dump binary file consists of one file header, one architecture-specific block, and multiple memory blocks. All numbers in the headers below are little endian.

File Header

The file header consists of the following fields:

Table 5 Core dump binary file header


Data Type




Z, E as identifier of file.

Header version


Identify the version of the header. This needs to be incremented whenever the header struct is modified. This allows parser to reject older header versions so it will not incorrectly parse the header.

Target code


Indicate which target (e.g. architecture or SoC) so the parser can instantiate the correct register block parser.

Pointer size


Size of uintptr_t in power of 2. (e.g. 5 for 32-bit, 6 for 64-bit). This is needed to accommodate 32-bit and 64-bit target in parsing the memory block addresses.



Fatal error reason

unsigned int

Reason for the fatal error, as the same in enum k_fatal_error_reason defined in include/zephyr/fatal.h

Architecture-specific Block

The architecture-specific block contains the byte stream of data specific to the target architecture (e.g. CPU registers)

Table 6 Architecture-specific Block


Data Type




A to indicate this is a architecture-specific block.

Header version


Identify the version of this block. To be interpreted by the target architecture specific block parser.

Number of bytes


Number of bytes following the header which contains the byte stream for target data. The format of the byte stream is specific to the target and is only being parsed by the target parser.

Register byte stream


Contains target architecture specific data.

Memory Block

The memory block contains the start and end addresses and the data within the memory region.

Table 7 Memory Block


Data Type




M to indicate this is a memory block.

Header version


Identify the version of the header. This needs to be incremented whenever the header struct is modified. This allows parser to reject older header versions so it will not incorrectly parse the header.

Start address


The start address of the memory region.

End address


The end address of the memory region.

Memory byte stream


Contains the memory content between the start and end addresses.

Adding New Target

The architecture-specific block is target specific and requires new dumping routine and parser for new targets. To add a new target, the following needs to be done:

  1. Add a new target code to the enum coredump_tgt_code in include/zephyr/debug/coredump.h.

  2. Implement arch_coredump_tgt_code_get() simply to return the newly introduced target code.

  3. Implement arch_coredump_info_dump() to construct a target architecture block and call coredump_buffer_output() to output the block to core dump backend.

  4. Add a parser to the core dump GDB stub scripts under scripts/coredump/gdbstubs/

    1. Extends the gdbstubs.gdbstub.GdbStub class.

    2. During __init__, store the GDB signal corresponding to the exception reason in self.gdb_signal.

    3. Parse the architecture-specific block from self.logfile.get_arch_data(). This needs to match the format as implemented in step 3 (inside arch_coredump_info_dump()).

    4. Implement the abstract method handle_register_group_read_packet where it returns the register group as GDB expected. Refer to GDB’s code and documentation on what it is expecting for the new target.

    5. Optionally implement handle_register_single_read_packet for registers not covered in the g packet.

  5. Extend get_gdbstub() in scripts/coredump/gdbstubs/ to return the newly implemented GDB stub.

API documentation

group coredump_apis

Coredump APIs.


void coredump(unsigned int reason, const z_arch_esf_t *esf, struct k_thread *thread)

Perform coredump.

Normally, this is called inside z_fatal_error() to generate coredump when a fatal error is encountered. This can also be called on demand whenever a coredump is desired.

  • reason – Reason for the fatal error

  • esf – Exception context

  • thread – Thread information to dump

void coredump_memory_dump(uintptr_t start_addr, uintptr_t end_addr)

Dump memory region.

  • start_addr – Start address of memory region to be dumped

  • end_addr – End address of memory region to be dumped

void coredump_buffer_output(uint8_t *buf, size_t buflen)

Output the buffer via coredump.

This outputs the buffer of byte array to the coredump backend. For example, this can be called to output the coredump section containing registers, or a section for memory dump.

  • buf – Buffer to be send to coredump output

  • buflen – Buffer length

int coredump_query(enum coredump_query_id query_id, void *arg)

Perform query on coredump subsystem.

Query the coredump subsystem for information, for example, if there is an error.

  • query_id[in] Query ID

  • arg[inout] Pointer to argument for exchanging information


Depends on the query

int coredump_cmd(enum coredump_cmd_id query_id, void *arg)

Perform command on coredump subsystem.

Perform certain on coredump subsystem, for example, output the stored coredump via logging.

  • cmd_id[in] Command ID

  • arg[inout] Pointer to argument for exchanging information


Depends on the command

group arch-coredump


void arch_coredump_info_dump(const z_arch_esf_t *esf)

Architecture-specific handling during coredump.

This dumps architecture-specific information during coredump.

  • esf – Exception Stack Frame (arch-specific)

uint16_t arch_coredump_tgt_code_get(void)

Get the target code specified by the architecture.