debugWIRE Software Breakpoints

The debugWIRE OCD is drastically downscaled when compared to the Microchip megaAVR (JTAG) OCD. This means that it does not have any Program Counter breakpoint comparators available to the user for debugging purposes. One such comparator does exist for purposes of run-to-cursor and single-stepping operations, but additional user breakpoints are not supported in hardware.

Instead, the debugger must make use of the AVR BREAK instruction. This instruction can be placed in FLASH, and when loaded for execution, it will cause the AVR CPU to enter Stopped mode. To support breakpoints during debugging, the debugger must insert a BREAK instruction into FLASH at the point at which the users request a breakpoint. The original instruction must be cached for later replacement. When single-stepping over a BREAK instruction, the debugger has to execute the original cached instruction to preserve program behavior. In extreme cases, the BREAK has to be removed from FLASH and replaced later. All these scenarios can cause apparent delays when single-stepping from breakpoints, which will be exacerbated when the target clock frequency is very low.

It is thus recommended to observe the following guidelines, where possible: