Raspberry Pi Imager: Updating Bootloader On A Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi Imager: Updating Bootloader On A Raspberry Pi

Keeping your Raspberry Pi's firmware up-to-date is crucial for accessing new features, improvements, and bug fixes. The Raspberry Pi Imager simplifies the process, making it easy for users to update their firmware. Follow this comprehensive guide to ensure your Raspberry Pi is running the latest firmware version.


This guidance is also crucial for those who want to utilize the PCIe features on Raspberry Pi 5 and wish to boot from their NVMe drive. At the time this article was written, the Raspberry Pi Bootloader (Version: 30de0ba5 – 2024/01/5) enabled users to boot from the NVMe drive via the PCIe without the need to modify the setting on the Raspberry Pi EEPROM thus simplifying the process.





Step 1: Download and Install Raspberry Pi Imager



Visit the official Raspberry Pi website to download the Raspberry Pi Imager. Follow the installation instructions to set up the Imager on your computer.


Step 2: Insert MicroSD Card

Insert the microSD card into the SD card reader.


Step 3: Open Raspberry Pi Imager

Launch the Raspberry Pi Imager on your computer and click on "CHOOSE OS".



Step 4: Choose Operating System

Scroll down and choose “Misc utility images”.



Step 5: Select Board Bootloader

Select your specific board bootloader from the list.



Step 6: Choose boot order.

Select “SD Card Boot”.



Step 7: Choose Storage

Select your SD Card storage.



Step 8: Flash the firmware
Click on "NEXT" and approve the prompt by selecting "YES."



Step 9: Flashing

The writing process will only take a few minutes at most. Once it completes, you will see a message like as shown below.

This indicates that the Raspberry Pi bootloader has been successfully written to the SD Card, and you can now remove it from your device.



Step 10: Insert the bootloader update SD card.

1. Power off the Raspberry Pi and remove all peripherals.

2. Insert the bootloader update SD card.



3. Power on the Raspberry Pi.

4. Wait at least 10 seconds.

*If successful, the green LED on the Raspberry Pi will blink rapidly forever. An unsuccessful update of the EEPROM is indicated by a different blinking pattern corresponding to the specific error.


*If an HDMI display is attached, then the screen will display green for success or red if a failure occurs.


Congratulations! You've successfully updated your Raspberry Pi firmware using the Raspberry Pi Imager. Periodically check for firmware updates to stay current with the latest enhancements. Continue to the next step if you want to use PCIe NVMe HAT for Raspberry Pi 5.


As indicated in the introduction, only Raspberry Pi bootloader versions from 30de0ba5 (released on 2024/01/5) and later are compatible with PCIe NVMe HAT. With the SD Card removed, figure below demonstrates that the earlier bootloader version c2da2ae7 (released on 2023/10/18) was unable to boot from the NVMe drive.



Step 11: Install NVMe HAT

Remove the SD Card and Install the Raspberry Pi 5 PCIe NVMe Hat with preinstalled Bookworm OS drive.



Step 12: Verify Update

After rebooting, open a terminal and enter the following command to verify the bootloader update:

vcgencmd bootloader_version



On the same terminal, enter the following command to verify if the NVMe is detected. The lsblk command is used in Linux to list information about block devices (e.g., hard drives, SSDs, partitions). When you run lsblk  in the terminal, it provides a tree-like view of the block devices and their relationships.





PCIe VS  USB 3.0 Speed Test

PCIe Boot: Cytron NVMe 2280 M-Key MakerDisk SSD 256GB


USB 3.0 Boot: Cytron NVMe 2280 M-Key MakerDisk SSD 256GB


In summary, when comparing the performance of booting from NVMe storage on a Raspberry Pi, both PCIe and USB 3.0 connections were examined using the same NVMe drive. The speed tests revealed that PCIe demonstrated superior performance over USB 3.0, showcasing faster sequential write speeds.


Therefore, for users seeking optimal speed and performance, particularly in scenarios with demanding applications and data-intensive tasks, utilizing the PCIe interface with an NVMe drive is recommended. The choice between PCIe and USB 3.0 should be based on the specific performance requirements of the project, as well as considerations for storage capacity and budget constraints.

Hardware Components

USB2.0 Cytron microSD Card Reader/Writer Best Seller
Raspberry Pi 5 Single Board Computer Best Seller
x 1 unit(s)
PCIe Hat for Raspberry Pi 5 with MakerDisk NVMe SSD - X1000 New Backorder Only