8-bit AVR Microcontrollers

Addressing the Flash During Self-Programming

The Z-pointer is used to address the SPM commands. The Z-pointer consists of the Z-registers ZL and ZH in the register file. The number of bits actually used is implementation dependent.

Since the Flash is organized in pages, the program counter can be treated as having two different sections. One section, consisting of the least significant bits, is addressing the words within a page, while the most significant bits are addressing the pages. This is shown in the following figure. The page erase and page write operations are addressed independently. Therefore, it is of major importance that the Boot Loader software addresses the same page in both the page erase and page write operation. Once a programming operation is initiated, the address is latched and the Z-pointer can be used for other operations.

The only SPM operation that does not use the Z-pointer is setting the boot loader lock bits. The content of the Z-pointer is ignored and will have no effect on the operation. The LPM instruction does also use the Z-pointer to store the address. Since this instruction addresses the Flash byte-by-byte, also the LSB (bit Z0) of the Z-pointer is used.

Figure 1. Addressing the Flash During SPM
Note: The different variables used in this figure are listed in the Related Links.