Build Options Summary

As far as possible, TF-A Tests dynamically detects the platform hardware components and available features. There are a few build options to select specific features where the dynamic detection falls short.

Unless mentioned otherwise, these options are expected to be specified at the build command line and are not to be modified in any component makefiles.


The build system doesn’t track dependencies for build options. Therefore, if any of the build options are changed from a previous build, a clean build must be performed.

Common (Shared) Build Options

Most of the build options listed in this section apply to TFTF, the FWU test images and Cactus, unless otherwise specified. These do not influence the EL3 payload, whose simplistic build system is mostly independent.

  • ARCH: Choose the target build architecture for TF-A Tests. It can take either aarch64 or aarch32 as values. By default, it is defined to aarch64. Not all test images support this build option.

  • ARM_ARCH_MAJOR: The major version of Arm Architecture to target when compiling TF-A Tests. Its value must be numeric, and defaults to 8.

  • ARM_ARCH_MINOR: The minor version of Arm Architecture to target when compiling TF-A Tests. Its value must be a numeric, and defaults to 0.

  • BRANCH_PROTECTION: Numeric value to enable ARMv8.3 Pointer Authentication (ARMv8.3-PAuth) and ARMv8.5 Branch Target Identification (ARMv8.5-BTI) support in the Trusted Firmware-A Test Framework itself. If enabled, it is needed to use a compiler that supports the option -mbranch-protection (GCC 9 and later). Selects the branch protection features to use:

  • 0: Default value turns off all types of branch protection

  • 1: Enables all types of branch protection features

  • 2: Return address signing to its standard level

  • 3: Extend the signing to include leaf functions

  • 4: Turn on branch target identification mechanism

    The table below summarizes BRANCH_PROTECTION values, GCC compilation options and resulting PAuth/BTI features.


    GCC option























    This option defaults to 0 and this is an experimental feature.

  • DEBUG: Chooses between a debug and a release build. A debug build typically embeds assertions checking the validity of some assumptions and its output is more verbose. The option can take either 0 (release) or 1 (debug) as values. 0 is the default.

  • ENABLE_ASSERTIONS: This option controls whether calls to assert() are compiled out.

    • For debug builds, this option defaults to 1, and calls to assert() are compiled in.

    • For release builds, this option defaults to 0 and calls to assert() are compiled out.

    This option can be set independently of DEBUG. It can also be used to hide any auxiliary code that is only required for the assertion and does not fit in the assertion itself.

  • LOG_LEVEL: Chooses the log level, which controls the amount of console log output compiled into the build. This should be one of the following:


    All log output up to and including the selected log level is compiled into the build. The default value is 40 in debug builds and 20 in release builds.

  • PLAT: Choose a platform to build TF-A Tests for. The chosen platform name must be a subdirectory of any depth under plat/, and must contain a platform makefile named For example, to build TF-A Tests for the Arm Juno board, select PLAT=juno.

  • V: Verbose build. If assigned anything other than 0, the build commands are printed. Default is 0.

Arm FVP Platform Specific Build Options

  • FVP_CLUSTER_COUNT : Configures the cluster count to be used to build the topology tree within TFTF. By default TFTF is configured for dual cluster for CPUs with single thread (ST) and single cluster for SMT CPUs. For ST CPUs this option can be used to override the default number of clusters with a value in the range 1-4.

  • FVP_MAX_CPUS_PER_CLUSTER: Sets the maximum number of CPUs implemented in a single cluster. This option defaults to the maximum value of 4 for ST CPUs and maximum value of 8 for SMT CPUs.

  • FVP_MAX_PE_PER_CPU: Sets the maximum number of PEs implemented on any CPU in the system. This option defaults to 1 to select ST CPUs. For platforms with SMT CPUs this value must be set to 2.

TFTF-specific Build Options

  • NEW_TEST_SESSION: Choose whether a new test session should be started every time or whether the framework should determine whether a previous session was interrupted and resume it. It can take either 1 (always start new session) or 0 (resume session as appropriate). 1 is the default.

  • TESTS: Set of tests to run. Use the following command to list all possible sets of tests:

    make help_tests

    If no set of tests is specified, the standard tests will be selected (see tftf/tests/tests-standard.xml).

  • USE_NVM: Used to select the location of test results. It can take either 0 (RAM) or 1 (non-volatile memory like flash) as test results storage. Default value is 0, as writing to the flash significantly slows tests down.

FWU-specific Build Options

  • FIRMWARE_UPDATE: Whether the Firmware Update test images (i.e. NS_BL1U and NS_BL2U) should be built. The default value is 0. The platform makefile is free to override this value if Firmware Update is supported on this platform.

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