Debugger for ATXMEGAA3BU-XPLD

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Hi everyone,

 

I have now received an Xplained board for the Xmega256A3 AVR device, and find that there is "only" a USB bootloader for downloading a program.

What I would like to do is to be able to debug in hardware from AS7, but I think this is not possible without an ICE.

 

Is there a functional cheap ICE available for learning purposes, or is the ATMEL-ICE the only option?

 

NB: This has probably been asked before, but I havent found any answers to it so far.

 

Thanks in advance

Regards

Michael

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Last Edited: Wed. Aug 15, 2018 - 05:37 PM
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Only Atmel-ICE for "modern" AVRs like Xmega.

 

EDIT: or an alternative (which might be cheaper) is to find an Xmega Xplained board that does have a debugger. In Microchip/Atmel's range the "Xplained" boards don't have a debugger but the "Xplained Pro", "Xplained Mini" and "Xplained Ultra" ones do.

 

EDIT2: for example this one is an A1U (rather than A3U) board:

 

http://www.microchip.com/Develop...

 

It costs $41 which is a lot less than an Atmel-ICE ($130)

Last Edited: Wed. Aug 8, 2018 - 12:14 PM
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MFrandsen wrote:
This has probably been asked before

Indeed.

 

You need an XPlained Pro or Mini or Nano to have an on-board debugger: 

 

https://www.avrfreaks.net/commen...

 

So why not get an ATmega324PB-XPRO ( ATMEGA324PB-XPRO ):

product primary image

https://www.microchip.com/DevelopmentTools/ProductDetails/PartNo/ATMEGA324PB-XPRO#additional-summary

 

MFrandsen wrote:
Is there a functional cheap ICE

Define "cheap" ?

 

 

EDIT

 

Sorry for the irrelevant board link - you wanted XMega - but that's what Microchip themselves linked form the XMega page!!

 

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Last Edited: Wed. Aug 8, 2018 - 12:15 PM
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Thanks for clarifying :-)

It's as I expected then. I have this board as it is used in a course I will attend so unfortunately the other Xplained wont do.

 

I was hoping there was small designs of the EDBG or something similar that was a down-scaled version for student use.

 

EDIT: I know "cheap" is a wide phrase, but I mean something lower priced than an ATMEL-ICE for student purposes. Like en EDBG or mDBG external option.

Last Edited: Wed. Aug 8, 2018 - 12:20 PM
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There's a recent thread here on how to hack an Xplained Mini (328 or 168)  to debug an external target:

 

https://www.avrfreaks.net/forum/low-cost-debugger-xplained-kits

 

Not sure if that would work for debugging an external Target of a different type - such as your XMega ... ?

 

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MFrandsen wrote:
I have this board as it is used in a course I will attend

Hmmm ... I'd be questioning a course that doesn't use the debugger!

 

If you're serious enough to be investing in a course (which is a n excellent thing), I'd have thought an Atmel ICE would also be a worthwhile investment ... ?

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MFrandsen wrote:
I have this board as it is used in a course I will attend so unfortunately the other Xplained wont do.

But the course doesn't cover using a debugger anyhow - so why is that a worry?

 

Get the XPlained-Pro for your own "experiments" (with debugger), and do the coursework (without) on the other board ...

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Who needs a debugger when you have an LED ?? cheeky

 

(A3BU board apparently has TWO user LEDs - so the world is your veritable oyster!!)

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I do not think the hack will work for my Xmega board as the board provide a connector to JTAG and PDI.

 

True that I could afford to buy the ICE when I can afford the course, but what's the harm in trying not to just get everything all the time. 50$ saved is 100$ earned when you have the tax where i live.

 

Getting me another Xplained-Pro is for sure also a solution. Thanks.

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But like Andy says, if they are running the course (possibly ill-advisedly?) using boards that do not have debuggers then presumably nothing in the course is going to be reliant on having one anyway?

 

(in fact I rather envisage that you may be flashing one or more of those two LEDs quite often to signal progress!)

 

As the Xmega series (well the "old school" ones anyway) are homogenous then all models have all the same peripherals at all the same addresses with the same register and bit names - the only thing that varies between models is how many pins and how many of each peripheral exist in each (not all devices have all of them). So as long as the peripherals/pins for a particular peripheral exist in a given device then the very same source code should build for all models. As such I would just get that $41 A1U Xpro and run that alongside the 3BU for when you want to "look inside" with the debugger. I have a feeling the A1U is the "superset" device so will have at least all the bits inside the 3BU.

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MFrandsen wrote:
what's the harm in trying not to just get everything all the time.

I would consider an ICE to be an essential part of the basic toolkit.

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That is also why I investigate my options for an ICE. I have the same opinion, just not jumping to the solution in the higher price range.

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The AVR Dragon is less expensive alternative to the ICE.  It is an older Programmer/Debugger that will work fine with the older Xplained boards. 

Greg Muth

Portland, OR, US

Xplained/Pro/Mini Boards mostly

 

Make Xmega Great Again!

 

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The AVR Dragon is less expensive

Barely:

 

Dragon: £37 - https://www.microchipdirect.com/product/search/all/ATAVRDRAGON

this is just a PCBA, only supports (older?) AVR.

 

AtmelICE:

PCBA only: £38

Cased kit: £99

https://www.microchipdirect.com/product/search/all/ATATMEL-ICE

 

So, if you're happy with just a PCBA, why would you get a Dragon?

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So, if you're happy with just a PCBA, why would you get a Dragon?

I didn't know the bare board ICE was priced that low.

Greg Muth

Portland, OR, US

Xplained/Pro/Mini Boards mostly

 

Make Xmega Great Again!

 

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awneil wrote:
Hmmm ... I'd be questioning a course that doesn't use the debugger!

 

Well I'm not saying the course doesn't use a debugger. The debugger can run in simulation just not on the hardware. Personally I prefer the hardware to be part of it.

Besides, I am taking the course because I want to use that knowledge afterwards to make my own boards.

 

Getting the ATMEL-ICE-PCBA and making my own cables does seem a good compromise. Also if I decide to use a SAM device later on.

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MFrandsen wrote:
Also if I decide to use a SAM device later on.

or any of the AVRs with newer debug protocols.

 

also gives you the Data Gateway Interface (DGI): http://microchipdeveloper.com/atmelice:connecting-atmel-ice-to-data-gateway-interface

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Absolutely!

 

Great site. I will look closer to information contained on there.

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"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

Last Edited: Thu. Aug 9, 2018 - 10:13 AM
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So basically with PICkit 4 you get support for AVR and PIC and with ATMEL-ICE you get AVR and SAM support.

 

Are you basically saying that in the future there will be only one IDE?

Which is then MPLAB X?

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There's currently some SAM in MPLAB PICkit 4 (SAM S70 and E70) for MPLAB X 5.00

Atmel-ICE is in MPLAB X 5 (AVR)

MFrandsen wrote:
Are you basically saying that in the future there will be only one IDE?
Apparently yes though I'm not in, with, or at Microchip.

Atmel Studio still has "some" life left.

MFrandsen wrote:
Which is then MPLAB X?
Looks like that's it though some do like the Visual Studio experience.

 


https://www.avrfreaks.net/forum/atmel-studio-701931

https://www.avrfreaks.net/forum/hint-thing-come#comment-2526386

 

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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MFrandsen wrote:
in the future there will be only one IDE?

that would seem to be the obvious forecast - as Microchip seem to be erasing all memory of anything "Atmel" ...

 

EDIT

 

and it is logical - why would you want to maintain 2 separate  IDEs ?

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Last Edited: Thu. Aug 9, 2018 - 11:09 AM
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awneil wrote:
why would you want to maintain 2 separate  IDEs ?

I completely agree, but when is it the time to switch?

 

It now leaves me with more choices of the configuration to use.

 

AS7 + ATMEL-ICE

MPLAB X + ATMEL-ICE

MPLAB X + PICkit 4

 

Seem like 3rd option is the future, but will my ATXmega256A3BU be sufficiently supported when I need it?

Trying MPLAB X seems straight forward, but what of the HW.

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MFrandsen wrote:
 when is it the time to switch?

Well, that's always the $64M question - isn't it.

 

Presumably, in your case, your initial choice is governed by whatever your course will be using?

 

As the AVR support in MPLAB and PICkit is all very new, bleeding-edge stuff - I would suggest that you avoid it for now.

 

Note that well-established 3rd-party options are also available.

And, by the time AS becomes obsolete, who knows what other options may have become available ...

 

But, at the end of the day, all IDEs do basically the same thing, and require basically the same stuff to be configured.

So get yourself a good, solid understanding of how Atmel Studio works.

With that understanding - ie, not just rote-learning - you should be able to move easily to any other IDE.

 

 

EDIT

 

"well-established"

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I can only agree again as the IDE is not my concern really.

 

Currently, I am the one that thinks it is better to have an ICE, as I believe it is not a requirement of the upcoming course. I feel I'd be better learning if I can see what happens in HW as I'd have a better feeling that what I expect happens, really do happen.

 

If Microchip is updating MPLAB X to over time have PICkit 4 support AVR, SAM and PIC, that would be my choice. It is currently at 20% discount in microchipdirect.

So the question is if PICkit 4 can be interfaced in AS7 and I think not. Why build support into a tool that may not have a long future?

 

For now, I am likely better of going with AS7 and ATMEL-ICE-PCBA and replace the ice at a later time if needed. MPLAB X I can install at any time I wish.

 

EDIT

As gchapman also states, it is only the ATXmega32C3 that has a yellow beta mark on the PICkit 4 so far. Of the Xmega devices that is. The rest are ATMEL programmer beta marked.

So, for now, the best option is to keep using AS7 and ATMEL-ICE.

Last Edited: Thu. Aug 9, 2018 - 02:43 PM
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awneil wrote:
AVR support in MPLAB and PICkit is all very new, bleeding-edge stuff

This was just posted in another thread:

 

 

You really don't want to be beta testing while trying to learn!

 

surprise

 

 

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awneil wrote:
You really don't want to be beta testing while trying to learn!

Absolutely not smiley

 

ATMEL-ICE-PCBA should arrive tomorrow yes

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ATMEL-ICE-PCBA arrived, and I made a squid wire on a small adapter board. When I use PDI in the programmer tool, it reads the "device information"the first time but then throws the interface saying it has no connection.

JTAG has no connection at all, but I must have connections right as it answers the first time.

Are there any fuses programmed in the default application of the Xplained board?

Is the interface that sensitive?

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MFrandsen wrote:
Is the interface that sensitive?
wrt PDI, yes as PDI is sensitive to ground bounce, overshoot, and timing (PDI is symmetric impedance and very fast (very short rise-time and fall-time); UPDI is relatively slow)

Atmel-ICE's PDI is significantly better than AVR Dragon's PDI.

Recommendations :

  • get the Atmel-ICE PCBA up off the table (PCB bumpers)
  • "short" target squib wires
  • re-review the small adapter board though well done as Atmel-ICE pitch adapters are a somewhat popular topic here
  • (likely not) 100 ohm plus or minus series termination (AVR Dragon needs those)

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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I will have to try to shorten the signals, but I find it a little strange this is a problem as the boart JTAG signals are routed to both the debug connector and to J3. This means stubs on the nets for PDI as well.

Is the VTG signal used to power anything on the ICE?

 

Is there some way check the JTAG fuse?

I am more familiar with JTAG communication.

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MFrandsen wrote:
This means stubs on the nets for PDI as well.
Yet stubs over a ground plane.

An advantage of an IDC is one or more instances of ground within the cable connecting the Atmel-ICE's ground to the target's ground.

PDI clock's frequency can be up to 30MHz; therefore, PDI is a bit of a challenge (obviously solvable)

MFrandsen wrote:
Is the VTG signal used to power anything on the ICE?
partially yes (level converters)

Atmel-ICE

Architecture Description

http://www.microchip.com/webdoc/GUID-DDB0017E-84E3-4E77-AAE9-7AC4290E5E8B/index.html?GUID-9B532A87-65FB-47FB-9572-A406F9A71F46

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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Well, I can shorten the wires for sure. They are currently around 15cm single ended after the ribbon cable connector. If needed I can also cut the ribbon cable and solder the squib directly on the cable. I'd prefer not cutting the cable though.

I will bring home an Olimex MKII programmer tomorrow and have a look at the JTAG fuse.

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gchapman wrote:
PDI clock's frequency can be up to 30MHz

In which situation will this frequency be reached?

The programming tools setting allows up to 7.5MHz and default set at 4MHz

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Just saw another post that was the same problem as mine. 

Maybe I have a FW problem too? The PCBA did an upgrade when first attached

 

https://www.avrfreaks.net/forum/...

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MFrandsen wrote:
In which situation will this frequency be reached?
Possibly via FPGA

MPLAB ICD 4 has an FPGA between the SAM E70 and the target interface.

There's an FPGA on a MCU hardware security tool that, IIRC, implements the target interface.

 

http://microchipdeveloper.com/icd4:icd4-block-diagram

https://wiki.newae.com/CW1200_ChipWhisperer-Pro#Basic_Usage

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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I just tried to power the board between PDI runs.

Power cycling my target allows me to do one PDI action.

So I can see fuses after power cycle, or start a debug. 

So when the connection is made, it appears stable until it disconnects.

Hard to see it has to be a signal problem.

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Wish I could try a different firmware on the PCBA

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Atmel-ICE firmware is with Atmel Studio.

Can pull it from each Atmel Studio then with the current Atmel Studio's atfw.exe burn what firmware you want; there may be an incompatibility with atbackend.exe

Might be easier to put each Atmel Studio instance into a Hyper-V virtual machine (Hyper-V is in Windows Pro and subsequent, Windows 8 and subsequent)

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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yes, I will download a few versions and try to locate the firmware.

I guess I'm not so lucky that multiple versions of it are in the installation.

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Actually all the firmware versions are available as a zip download in the Microchip knowledge base which can be accessed as a registered user in the customer case console.

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Downgraded firmware to 1.21 and let AS7 upgrade again does not solve the problem. I can still only run one PDI session and need to power cycle the target.

I will now try an earlier version of AS7 that has 1.21 in it.

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I am a little gobsmacked. I have a regular ATMEL-ICE with standard ribbon cable and multi-way adapter.
.
My first priority would always be to buy a tool with a protective case. The second is to have a ready-made ribbon cable.
.
I can make custom ribbon cables with 2.54mm 3x2 or 5x2 e.g. for Dragon. I would never risk making cables with 1.27mm connectors.
.
My advice would be: protect your bare PCBA board. double-check your cable assembly.
.
Perform regular debugging with a standard ARM-Cortex straight-through ribbon cable on JTAG/SWD targets. Use ARM socket and test for pin#1
.
Anything else e.g. ICSP, TPI, PDI, UPDI, debugWIRE and even AVR JTAG requires the AVR socket and a hand-made cable.
.
My ATMEL-ICE works fine with ARM targets and even with Keil, Rowley, ... as well as AS7.
Likewise, I have used ICSP, debugWIRE, PDI, JTAG on Tiny, Mega, Xmega targets without problem.
.
In fact the ATMEL-ICE is much FASTER than Dragon or JTAGICE-mkII.
.
David.

Last Edited: Wed. Aug 15, 2018 - 03:39 PM
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Yep, I already heard all that but I have made JTAG cables for more than 20 years and never had any problem. In fact, I can make 50cm JTAG cables and still have a working bus.

 

As already mentioned I can start a PDI debug session and run through it with no problem at the highest clock setting (7.5MHz) and only get problems starting the next session.

 

I have not made custom ribbon cable for the 1,27mm connectors as it is a standard Atmel cable with an adapter board. I only added squib wires to the adapter board.

 

That it has no case is surely not my problem!

 

When I do a debug (first PDI session) it runs quite satisfactory but in the end, I am inclined to purchase the full adapter kit and rule out that too.

 

So can't really see a solution in all that!

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MFrandsen wrote:
I have not made custom ribbon cable for the 1,27mm connectors as it is a standard Atmel cable with an adapter board. I only added squib wires to the adapter board.

 

What Atmel cable?   The ATMEL-ICE ribbon costs as much as  your PCBA.

 

Seriously,   I am sure that your problems are down to the "cable".    And I really dislike squib wires.

 

The good thing about the Dragon was that you have 2.54mm 3x2 and 5x2 headers.    Just make straight-through 6-way ribbon and 10-way ribbon with regular IDC connectors.   (or buy ready-made ribbons)

 

David.

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david.prentice wrote:
The ATMEL-ICE ribbon costs as much as  your PCBA.
half

https://new.microchipdirect.com/product/search/all/ATATMEL-ICE-CABLE

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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david.prentice wrote:
What Atmel cable? 

Yes! an Atmel cable that came out of an Atmel box and yes the adapter shorts pin 2 and 10 and they are both GND.

The problem is with initializing the second PDI session.

 

"

Severity: ERROR

ComponentId: 20100

StatusCode: 1

ModuleName: TCF (TCF command: Device:startSession failed.)

 

PDI enable failed. Debugger command Activate physical failed.

"

 

I could also remove the squib and do a 2x5 -> 2x3 PDI converter.

EDIT: Those are 2.54mm IDC both

Last Edited: Wed. Aug 15, 2018 - 04:51 PM
This reply has been marked as the solution. 
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I just came across this looking over the Getting Started Guide for XMEGA-A3BU Xplained:

 

Greg Muth

Portland, OR, US

Xplained/Pro/Mini Boards mostly

 

Make Xmega Great Again!

 

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Thanks Greg

 

I missed that note completely as my plan with the squibs was to connect as JTAG. Unfortunately, JTAG does not respond at all so I'm not really sure how to disable the JTAG fuse.

 

EDIT:

There is actually a note on the schematic about potential lockup due to this. Perhaps I should start by breaking this strap!

However, JTAG is not disabled and that is a contradicting statement with the getting started.

Last Edited: Wed. Aug 15, 2018 - 05:24 PM
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Thank you all for inputs :-)