Adding Secure Partition

Terms and abbreviations

This document uses the following terms and abbreviations.

Table 1: term table




Firmware Framework for M




Interprocess communication

IPC model

The secure IPC framework


Interrupt requests

Library model

The secure function call framework


Memory Mapped I/O


Platform Security Architecture


Root of Trust


Secure Function

SFN model

Secure Function model


RoT Service ID


Secure Partition


Secure Partition Manager


Trusted firmware M


Secure Partition is an execution environment that provides the following functions to Root of Trust (RoT) Services:

  • Access to resources, protection of its own code and data.

  • Mechanisms to interact with other components in the system.

Each Secure Partition is a single thread of execution and the smallest unit of isolation.

This document mainly describes how to add a secure partition in TF-M and focuses on the configuration, manifest, implement rules. The actual source-level implementation is not included in this document.


If not otherwise specified, the steps are identical for Library, IPC and SFN model.

The IPC and SFN model conforms to the PSA Firmware Framework for M (FF-M) v 1.1 changes. Refer to PSA Firmware Framework specification and Firmware Framework for M 1.1 Extensions for details.


The main steps to add a secure partition are as follows:

Add source folder

Add a source folder under <TF-M base folder>/secure_fw/partitions for the new secure partition (Let’s take example as the folder name):

This folder should include those parts:

  • Manifest file

  • CMake configuration files

  • Source code files

Add manifest

Each Secure Partition must have resource requirements declared in a manifest file. The Secure Partition Manager (SPM) uses the manifest file to assemble and allocate resources within the SPE. The manifest includes the following:

  • A Secure Partition name.

  • A list of implemented RoT Services.

  • Access to other RoT Services.

  • Memory requirements.

  • Scheduling hints.

  • Peripheral memory-mapped I/O regions and interrupts.


The current manifest format in TF-M is “yaml” which is different from the requirement of PSA FF.

Here is a manifest reference example for the IPC model:


To use SFN model, the user needs to replace "model": "IPC" to "model": "SFN". The user also needs to remove the attribute "entry_point", and optionally replace it with "entry_init".

  "psa_framework_version": 1.1,
  "name": "TFM_SP_EXAMPLE",
  "type": "APPLICATION-ROT",
  "priority": "NORMAL",
  "model": "IPC",
  "entry_point": "tfm_example_main",
  "stack_size": "0x0200",
  "services" : [
      "name": "ROT_A",
      "sid": "0x000000E0",
      "non_secure_clients": true,
      "connection_based": true,
      "version": 1,
      "version_policy": "STRICT"
      "mm_iovec": "disable"
  "mmio_regions": [
      "name": "TFM_PERIPHERAL_A",
      "permission": "READ-WRITE"
  "irqs": [
      "source": "TFM_A_IRQ",
      "name": "A_IRQ",
      "handling": "SLIH"
  "dependencies": [

Secure Partition ID Distribution

Every Secure Partition has an identifier (ID). TF-M will generate a header file that includes definitions of the Secure Partition IDs. The header file is <TF-M build folder>generated/interface/include/psa_manifest/pid.h. Each definition uses the name attribute in the manifest as its name and the value is allocated by SPM.

The Partition ID can be set to a fixed value or omitted to be auto allocated.

#define name id-value
Table 2: PID table

Secure Partitions

PID Range

TF-M Internal Partitions

0 - 255

PSA and user Partitions

256 - 2999

TF-M test Partitions

3000 - 4999

Firmware Framework test Partitions

5000 - 5999


6000 -

Please refer to <TF-M base folder>/tools/tfm_manifest_list.yaml, <TF-M test repo>/test/secure_fw/tfm_test_manifest_list.yaml and <TF-M base folder>/tools/tfm_psa_ff_test_manifest_list.yaml for the detailed PID allocations.

About where to add the definition, please refer to the chapter Add configuration.

RoT Service ID (SID) Distribution

An RoT Service is identified by its RoT Service ID (SID). A SID is a 32-bit number that is associated with a symbolic name in the Secure Partition manifest. The bits [31:12] uniquely identify the vendor of the RoT Service. The remaining bits [11:0] can be used at the discretion of the vendor.

Here is the RoT Service ID table used in TF-M.

Table 3: SID table


Vendor ID(20 bits)

Function ID(12 bits)


























































RoT Service Stateless Handle Distribution

A Secure partition may include stateless services. They are distinguished and referenced by stateless handles. In manifest, a stateless_handle attribute is set for indexing stateless services. It must be either "auto" or a number in the range [1, 32] in current implementation and may extend. Also the connection-based attribute must be set to false for stateless services.

Here is the stateless handle allocation for partitions in TF-M. Partitions not listed are not applied to stateless mechanism yet.

Table 4: Stateless Handle table

Partition name

Stateless Handle










This attribute is a list of MMIO region objects which the Secure Partition needs access to. TF-M only supports the named_region current. Please refer to PSA FF for more details about it. The user needs to provide a name macro to indicate the variable of the memory region.

TF-M uses the below structure to indicate a peripheral memory.

struct platform_data_t {
  uint32_t periph_start;
  uint32_t periph_limit;
  int16_t periph_ppc_bank;
  int16_t periph_ppc_loc;


This structure is not expected by TF-M, it’s only that the current implementations are using. Other peripherals that need different information to create isolation need to define a different structure with the same name.

Here is an example for it:

struct platform_data_t tfm_peripheral_A;
#define TFM_PERIPHERAL_A                 (&tfm_peripheral_A)

Library model support

For the library model, the user needs to add a secure_functions item. The main difference between secure_function and services is the extra signal key for secure function entry. This is not required in FF-M v1.0.

The signal must be the upper case of the secure function name.

"secure_functions": [
    "name": "TFM_EXAMPLE_A",
    "signal": "EXAMPLE_A_FUNC",
    "sid": "0x00000000",
    "non_secure_clients": true,
    "version": 1,
    "version_policy": "STRICT"

Add configuration

The following configuration tasks are required for the newly added secure partition:

Add CMake configure files

  • <TF-M base folder>/secure_fw/partitions/example/CMakeLists.txt, which is the compilation configuration for this module. Add library tfm_app_rot_partition_example and associated source files.

Here is a reference example for CMakeLists.txt


The secure partition must be built as a standalone static library, and the name of the library must follow this pattern, as it affects how the linker script will lay the partition in memory: - tfm_psa_rot_partition* in case of a PSA RoT partition - tfm_app_rot_partition* in case of an Application RoT partition

The current CMake configuration should also be updated, by updating <TF-M base folder>/config/config_default.cmake to include the CMake configuration variable of the newly added Secure Partition, e.g, TFM_PARTITION_EXAMPLE and adding the relevant subdirectory in <TF-M base folder>/secure_fw/CMakeLists.txt, e.g. add_subdirectory(partitions/example). Please refer to the source code of TF-M for more detail.

Update manifest list

The <TF-M base folder>/tools/tfm_manifest_list.yaml is used to collect necessary information of secure partition. The manifest tool tools/ processes it and generates necessary files while building.

  • name: The name string of the secure partition.

  • short_name: should be the same as the name in the secure partition manifest file.

  • manifest: the relative path of the manifest file to TF-M root. In out-of-tree secure partition, manifest can be an absolute path or the relative path to the current manifest list file.

  • conditional: Optional configuration to enable or disable this partition. If it is not set, the Secure Partition is always enabled. The value of this attribute must be a CMake variable surrounded by @. The value of the CMake variable must be:

    • ON, TRUE or ENABLED - the Partition is enabled.

    • OFF, FALSE or DISABLED - the Partition is disabled.

    • unset - the Partition is disabled.

    The build system relies on the CMake command configure_file() to replace the CMake variables with the corresponding values before the manifest tool processes it. If you are using the manifest tool out of the CMake build system, you can also set this attribute to the values allowed above to make the tool work.

  • version_major: major version the partition manifest.

  • version_minor: minor version the partition manifest.

  • pid: Secure Partition ID value distributed in chapter Secure Partition ID Distribution.

  • output_dir: Optional path to hold the generated files. The files are generated to:

    • <build_dir>/generated/<output_dir>, if output_dir is relative path.

    • <output_dir>, if output_dir is absolute path.

    • <build_dir>/generated/, if output_dir is not set.

  • linker_pattern: contains the information for linker to place the symbols of the Secure Partition. The following patterns are supported:

    • library_list - the library defined by CMake in Add configuration section. It must be *tfm_*partition_<name>.*, the <name>> must match the CMake library name.

    • object_list - Any object files containing symbols belonging to the Secure Partition but are not included in the Secure Partitions library.

Reference configuration example:

  "name": "TFM Example Service",
  "short_name": "TFM_SP_EXAMPLE",
  "manifest": "secure_fw/partitions/example/tfm_example_partition.yaml",
  "conditional": "@TFM_PARTITION_EXAMPLE@",
  "output_path": "partitions/example",
  "version_major": 0,
  "version_minor": 1,
  "pid": 290,
  "linker_pattern": {
    "library_list": [

TF-M also supports out-of-tree Secure Partition build where you can have your own manifest lists. Please refer to Out-of-tree Secure Partition build for details.

Implement the RoT services

To implement RoT services, the partition needs a source file which contains the implementations of the services, as well as the partition entry point. The user can create this source file under <TF-M base folder>/secure_fw/partitions/example/tfm_example_partition.c.

As an example, the RoT service with SID ROT_A will be implemented.

Entry point for IPC Model Partitions

This function must have a loop that repeatedly waits for input signals and then processes them, following the Secure Partition initialization.

#include "psa_manifest/tfm_example.h"
#include "psa/service.h"

void tfm_example_main(void)
    psa_signal_t signals = 0;

    /* Secure Partition initialization */

     * Continually wait for one or more of the partition's RoT Service or
     * interrupt signals to be asserted and then handle the asserted
     * signal(s).
    while (1) {
        signals = psa_wait(PSA_WAIT_ANY, PSA_BLOCK);
        if (signals & ROT_A_SIGNAL) {
        } else {
            /* Should not come here */

Entry init for SFN Model Partitions

In the SFN model, the Secure Partition consists of one optional initialization function, which is declared as the entry_init symbol as mentioned in section Add manifest. After initialization, the entry_init function returns the following values:

  • Return PSA_SUCCESS if initialization succeeds.

  • Return PSA_SUCCESS if initialization is partially successful, and you want some SFNs to receive messages. RoT Services that are non-operational must respond to connection requests with PSA_ERROR_CONNECTION_REFUSED.

  • Return an error status if the initialization failed, and no SFNs within the Secure Partition must be called.

Service implementation for IPC Model

The service is implemented by the rot_A() function, which is called upon an incoming signal. This implementation is up to the user, however an example service has been included for reference. The following example sends a message “Hello World” when called.

#include "psa_manifest/tfm_example.h"
#include "psa/service.h"

static void rot_A(void)
    const int BUFFER_LEN = 32;
    psa_msg_t msg;
    int i;
    uint8_t rec_buf[BUFFER_LEN];
    uint8_t send_buf[BUFFER_LEN] = "Hello World";

    psa_get(ROT_A_SIGNAL, &msg);
    switch (msg.type) {
         * This service does not require any setup or teardown on connect
         * or disconnect, so just reply with success.
        psa_reply(msg.handle, PSA_SUCCESS);
    case PSA_IPC_CALL:
        for (i = 0; i < PSA_MAX_IOVEC; i++) {
            if (msg.in_size[i] != 0) {
                psa_read(msg.handle, i, rec_buf, BUFFER_LEN);
            if (msg.out_size[i] != 0) {
                psa_write(msg.handle, i, send_buf, BUFFER_LEN);
        psa_reply(msg.handle, PSA_SUCCESS);
        /* cannot get here [broken SPM] */

Service implementation for SFN Model

SFN model consists of a set of Secure Functions (SFN), one for each RoT Service. The connection, disconnection and request messages do not cause a Secure Partition signal to be asserted for SFN Secure Partitions. Instead, the Secure Function (SFN) for the RoT Service is invoked by the framework, with the message details provided as a parameter to the SFN. To add a secure function (SFN) to process messages for each RoT Service, each SFN will have following prototype.

psa_status_t <<name>>_sfn(const psa_msg_t *msg);

A connection-based example service has been included for reference which sends a message “Hello World” when called.

#include "psa_manifest/tfm_example.h"
#include "psa/service.h"

psa_status_t rot_a_sfn(const psa_msg_t *msg)
    const int BUFFER_LEN = 32;
    int i;
    uint8_t rec_buf[BUFFER_LEN];
    uint8_t send_buf[BUFFER_LEN] = "Hello World";

    switch (msg->type) {
         * This service does not require any setup or teardown on connect
         * or disconnect, so just reply with success.
        return PSA_SUCCESS;
    case PSA_IPC_CALL:
        for (i = 0; i < PSA_MAX_IOVEC; i++) {
            if (msg->in_size[i] != 0) {
                psa_read(msg->handle, i, rec_buf, BUFFER_LEN);
            if (msg.->out_size[i] != 0) {
                psa_write(msg->handle, i, send_buf, BUFFER_LEN);
        return PSA_SUCCESS;
        /* cannot get here [broken SPM] */

Test connection

To test that the service has been implemented correctly, the user needs to call it from somewhere. One option is to create a new testsuite, such as <TF-M-test base folder>/test/secure_fw/suites/example/non_secure/example_ns_ interface_testsuite.c.

The process of adding test connection is explained in the specification Adding TF-M Regression Test Suite

#include "psa_manifest/sid.h"
#include "psa/client.h"

#include "test_framework.h"
#include "test_log.h"

static void tfm_example_test_1001(struct test_result_t *ret)
    char str1[] = "str1";
    char str2[] = "str2";
    char str3[128], str4[128];
    struct psa_invec invecs[2] = {{str1, sizeof(str1)},
                                  {str2, sizeof(str2)}};
    struct psa_outvec outvecs[2] = {{str3, sizeof(str3)},
                                    {str4, sizeof(str4)}};
    psa_handle_t handle;
    psa_status_t status;
    uint32_t version;

    version = psa_version(ROT_A_SID);
    TEST_LOG("TFM service support version is %d.\r\n", version);
    handle = psa_connect(ROT_A_SID, ROT_A_VERSION);
    status = psa_call(handle, PSA_IPC_CALL, invecs, 2, outvecs, 2);
    if (status >= 0) {
        TEST_LOG("psa_call is successful!\r\n");
    } else {
        TEST_FAIL("psa_call is failed!\r\n");

    TEST_LOG("outvec1 is: %s\r\n", outvecs[0].base);
    TEST_LOG("outvec2 is: %s\r\n", outvecs[1].base);
    ret->val = TEST_PASSED;

Once the test and service has been implemented, the project can be built and executed. The user should see the “Hello World” message in the console as received by the testsuite.

Out-of-tree Secure Partition build

TF-M supports out-of-tree Secure Partition build, whose source code folders are maintained outside TF-M repo. Developers can configure TFM_EXTRA_MANIFEST_LIST_FILES and TFM_EXTRA_PARTITION_PATHS in build command line to include out-of-tree Secure Partitions.


    A list of the absolute path(s) of the manifest list(s) provided by out-of-tree Secure Partition(s). Use semicolons ; to separate multiple manifest lists. Wrap the multiple manifest lists with double quotes.


    A list of the absolute directories of the out-of-tree Secure Partition source code folder(s). TF-M build system searches CMakeLists.txt of partitions in the source code folder(s). Use semicolons ; to separate multiple out-of-tree Secure Partition directories. Wrap the multiple directories with double quotes.

A single out-of-tree Secure Partition folder can be organized as the figure below.

secure partition folder
      ├── CMakeLists.txt
      ├── manifest_list.yaml
      ├── out_of_tree_partition_manifest.yaml
      └── source code

In the example above, TFM_EXTRA_MANIFEST_LIST_FILES and TFM_EXTRA_PARTITION_PATHS in the build command can be configured as listed below.


Multiple out-of-tree Secure Partitions can be organized in diverse structures. For example, multiple Secure Partitions can be maintained under the same directory as shown below.

top-level folder
      ├── Partition 1
      │       ├── CMakeLists.txt
      │       ├── partition_1_manifest.yaml
      │       └── source code
      ├── Partition 2
      │       └── ...
      ├── Partition 3
      │       └── ...
      ├── manifest_list.yaml
      └── Root CMakeLists.txt

In the example above, a root CMakeLists.txt includes all the partitions’ CMakLists.txt, for example via add_subdirectory(). The manifest_list.yaml lists all partitions’ manifest files. TFM_EXTRA_MANIFEST_LIST_FILES and TFM_EXTRA_PARTITION_PATHS in build command line can be configured as listed below.


Alternatively, out-of-tree Secure Partitions can be separated in different folders.

partition 1 folder                    partition 2 folder
    ├── CMakeLists.txt                    ├── CMakeLists.txt
    ├── manifest_list.yaml                ├── manifest_list.yaml
    ├── partition_1_manifest.yaml         ├── partition_2_manifest.yaml
    └── source code                       └── source code

In the example above, each Secure Partition manages its own manifest files and CMakeLists.txt. TFM_EXTRA_MANIFEST_LIST_FILES and TFM_EXTRA_PARTITION_PATHS in build command line can be configured as listed below. Please note those input shall be wrapped with double quotes.



Manifest list paths in TFM_EXTRA_MANIFEST_LIST_FILES do NOT have to be one-to-one mapping to Secure Partition directories in TFM_EXTRA_PARTITION_PATHS. The orders don’t matter either.

Further Notes

  • In the IPC model, Use PSA FF proposed memory accessing mechanism. SPM provides APIs and checking between isolation boundaries, a free accessing of memory can cause program panic.

  • In the IPC model, the memory checking inside partition runtime is unnecessary. SPM handles the checking while memory accessing APIs are called.

  • In the IPC model, the client ID had been included in the message structure and secure partition can get it when calling psa_get() function. The secure partition does not need to call tfm_core_get_caller_client_id() to get the caller client ID anymore.

  • In the IPC model, SPM will check the security policy and partition dependence between client and service. So the service does not need to validate the secure caller anymore.


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