Library 21- Read SD card with FatFs on STM32F4

Finally I got it working properly. Reading SDcard was very awesome for me for first time, so I decided to make a library for STM32F4xx devices and post it to my website. It’s basically just communication interface between STM32F4 and FatFS library by Chan. It supports SPI or SDIO communication. Library also supports USB communication, but for that purpose you need USB stack too. USB is available here.

Below I’m showing how to setup everything with STM32F4 to get SD card working with SPI or SDIO communication.

FATFS library can be used everywhere, but really, everywhere, not just SDCARD or USB flash drive. I’ve made an update to use source for FATFS SDRAM on STM32F429-Discovery or STM32F4x9-EVAL boards. Click here for more info.

Future updates will include also SPI FLASH (prototoype functions are added to FATFS library but not implemented yet) and option for user to add custom functions for FATFS low level.

FatFS Library

If you are interested for FATFS using HAL drivers, check here.


  • Fatfs by Chan supported, version R0.11
  • Support for SDIO or SPI interface
    • SDIO works with 1- or 4-bit mode
  • Support for Card detect pin
    • Can be disabled
  • Support for Write protect pin
    • Can be disabled
  • Custom fat time
    • Enables you to implement your own time using RTC
  • Updates
    • Version 1.2 – August 29, 2014
    • Version 1.3 – December 06, 2014
      • FatFs version R0.10C now implemented
    • Version 1.4 – December 29, 2014
      • Added support for truncate file from beginning
    • Version 1.5 – February 17, 2015
      • FatFs version R0.11 now implemented
      • Fixed problem which appers sometime using SDIO


    • STM32F4xx
    • STM32F4xx RCC
    • STM32F4xx GPIO
    • STM32F4xx SPI (only when SPI)
    • STM32F4xx DMA (only when SDIO)
    • STM32F4xx SDIO (only when SDIO)
    • MISC (only when SDIO)
  • TM
    • TM SPI (only when SPI)
    • TM DELAY (only when SPI)
    • TM GPIO
    • defines.h
    • attributes.h
  • FatFs by Chan (included in library)


SDCard pinout

SDCard pinout

Because different connections are possible, you have different pinouts. They are in table below:

NR SDIO Interface SPI Interface
Name STM32F4xx Description Name STM32F4xx Description
4-bit 1-bit
1 CD/DAT3 PC11 Connector data line 3 CS PB5 Chip select for SPI
2 CMD PD2 PD2 Command/Response line MOSI PA7 Data input for SPI
4 VDD 3.3V 3.3V 3.3V Power supply VDD 3.3V 3.3V Power supply
5 CLK PC12 PC12 Clock SCK PA5 Clock for SPI
7 DAT0 PC8 PC8 Connector data line 0 MISO PA6 Data output for SPI
8 DAT1 PC9 Connector data line 1
9 DAT2 PC10 Connector data line 2

Card detect and write protect pins are not part of SD card, but part of SDcard connector. They are listed below, and are same for both communications:

Name STM32F4xx Description
WP PB7 Write protect pin. Pin low when write is enabled
CD PB6 Card detect pin. Pin low when card detected

By default, both pins are disabled in library. If you want to use them, you have to enable them in defines.h file

SDIO Communication

STM32F4xx has internal SDIO peripheral to work with SD cards. Also, SDIO communication is faster than SPI, but if you don’t need speed in your project, you can use SPI aswell. With default settings, SDIO 4-bit mode communication is used. It means, that you need all four data lines. SDIO also supports 1-bit mode, where you need only Data0, CMD and CLK pins. To activate 1-bit mode, add this to your defines.h file:

To be able to get SDIO to work, you have to include these files:

  • tm_stm32f4_fatfs.h
  • tm_stm32f4_fatfs.c
  • fatfs/diskio.h
  • fatfs/diskio.c
  • fatfs/ff.h
  • fatfs/ff.c
  • fatfs/ffconf.h
  • fatfs/integer.h
  • fatfs/option/syscall.c
  • fatfs/option/unicode.c
  • fatfs/drivers/fatfs_sd_sdio.h
  • fatfs/drivers/fatfs_sd_sdio.c

And also make sure, that you include all STM32F4xx peripherals to work with. What it needs is described under “Dependencies” section.

SPI Communication

If you want to use SPI communication instead of SDIO on STM32F4xx for any reason, you can do that. To enable SPI communication, open your defines.h file and set constant

Now, SPI is activated. Make sure, that you include dependencies libraries, described in “Dependencies” section. By default SPI1 is used with Pinspack 1, but you can set it to your own SPI (in defines.h file) with

Look here to see, which pins are associated with each SPI. For SPI is also used CS (Chip select) pin. You can leave it’s settings as it is, or change it to what you want. You can do this with (in defines.h)

To properly work with SPI communication, you need files below:

  • tm_stm32f4_fatfs.h
  • tm_stm32f4_fatfs.c
  • fatfs/diskio.h
  • fatfs/diskio.c
  • fatfs/ff.h
  • fatfs/ff.c
  • fatfs/ffconf.h
  • fatfs/integer.h
  • fatfs/option/syscall.c
  • fatfs/option/unicode.c
  • fatfs/drivers/fatfs_sd.h
  • fatfs/drivers/fatfs_sd.c


To work with files, you have to use fatfs library. In order to get it work properly, you should check it’s manual here. My library is used only for “behind the scenes” settings, to get communication with SD card properly.

Custom get_fattime() function

Fatfs supports get_fattime() function, which returns time in integer format. By default get_fattime() returns time 0. That means 1.1.1980 00:00:00 time. If you have any RTC library or you want to set your own time, then you should set define in defines.h file:

After you set this, you have to create your project function:

My libraries for RTC


  • Fixed error for SPI communication

My functions

I have also made some additional functions:

  • TM_FATFS_DriveSize
    • Get full drive size and free space on your disk
  • TM_FATFS_TruncateBeginning
    • Truncate file from beginning

What could possibly go wrong?

You know, Murphy’s law 🙂 In this section I will add possible problems and (I hope) how to get it fixed.

  • Card not recognized by Fatfs
    • Is your card formatted in FAT16 or FAT32 format?


I have test this example with SPI and SDIO interface. In both cases I got the same result. I used 2 and 8GB cards in FAT16 format. In example below, default settings are in use, so:

  • SDIO interface
  • Card detect OFF
  • Write protect OFF
  • Led status
    • No leds on: It has not been mounted ok
      • Check if pinout is correct, also make sure FAT16 is selected
    • Only GREEN led on: mounted ok and opened ok, but data could not be written
    • Only RED led on: mounted OK, but could not open file
      • Maybe you have enabled Write protect pin. Disable it for this example
    • Both ON: everything OK

Example result with FatFS on STM32F429 Discovery

Example result with FatFS

View project on Github, download library below.


Owner of this site. Application engineer, currently employed by STMicroelectronics. Exploring latest technologies and owner of different libraries posted on Github.

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