Fujitsu Microelectronics has announced that Accemic GmbH & Co. KG of Munich, Germany has developed an embedded debugger for the Fujitsu 16LX range of Flash microcontrollers.
Modern microcontrollers, such as the Fujitsu 16LX family, are characterised by the increasing number and complexity of on-chip peripherals. Many debuggers offer developers no assistance with this type of peripheral, resulting in time-consuming searches through increasingly thick manuals for the appropriate register address and the meaning of the individual control bits. These difficulties are compounded by the arithmetic calculations required in the conversion from hex to bin and vice versa.
The Accemic MDE (MDE = Monitor Debugging Environment) makes it possible to debug single chip Flash or ROM applications without the need of external RAM or evaluation chips. It is a source-level and symbolic debugger for embedded C applications. It offers facilities which have always been required by microcontroller developers but which were often not available on the market.
Developers spend 20%-50% of their time debugging applications, a considerable part of which is spent searching the manual. The Accemic MDE integrates a processor status window, designed to save time and effort during these debugging tasks. During the running-in process and trouble diagnosis, it is possible to determine at a glance the status of the on-chip peripheral, the interrupts and the I/O pins. By clicking on a peripheral element, the name, address and content of the relevant control register are clearly displayed. In addition, the meaning of the individual control bits that can be edited in the plain text is also displayed. With a capacity of approximately 3600 bits, which is typically required to control the peripherals of the Fujitsu MB90F594, for example, the processor status window is an invaluable tool.
Coloured borders around the peripheral units give an overview of the current interrupt status of the individual peripheral elements. A blue border signals the existence of an interrupt request but if the border turns red, the interrupt enable bit for the request is set.
Checking the I/O pins is very useful for fast set-up of hardware. The current status of the I/O pins is visualised and the orientation and level of the pins can be changed using the mouse. Depending on the enclosure, the pin number is displayed and the assignment of a pin is visualised via an internal peripheral.
When the application is running, it is often useful to still be able to access the debugger when required. Accemic MDE supports this by means of an "Automatic Start" function. If this is activated, the application is started immediately after a reset. However, developers have the option to establish a connection to the debugger while the application is running and to access global variables and registers without having to stop the application.
Running in the background of the debugger is a highly efficient download manager, which organises the continuous update of the data displayed in the watch window, memory window, variable browser or processor status window. Variables displayed in several windows are only downloaded once in this case and only the variables actually visible on the screen are updated. This is an enormous advantage in terms of speed, particularly when displaying large structures and arrays.
A recurrent problem when using a monitor debugger is the support of the watchdog timer. Once this has been started, reaching a breakpoint inevitably leads to a reset in many debuggers, as the watchdog timer has started up in the meantime and the debugger does not allow an automatic update of the watchdog timer. This is not the case with Accemic MDE, where the application program informs the monitor kernel when the watchdog timer has started up. It will then be regularly reset during breakpoints, program stops or when single stepping.
Programmers often want to transfer short messages or values of specific variables to the PC from the application. To do this, the application is made accessible via the communication channel of the monitor kernel.
Due to its broad functionality and user-friendliness, Accemic MDE is a tool also favoured by users of in-circuit emulators for quickly and easily detecting remaining errors in the target hardware. At present, Accemic MDE supports almost all current controllers in the Fujitsu 16LX range, including the MB90F400 and MB90F500 families.
The serial interface of the PC, which is linked to the relevant bootloader UART of the target system, is used for communication.
A professional version of Accemic MDE will shortly be available, which will allow a higher communication speed and greater flexibility in the selection of interfaces. With an USB-based communication unit, all UARTs of the target system can be synchronously or asynchronously addressed with up to 1 MBaud. It is also possible to communicate via the CAN bus. In a CAN network, the multiprocessor debugger will also be supported, selected processors can be simultaneously started or stopped, new programs can be loaded and variables and registers can be checked while an application is running.
The Accemic MDE monitor debugger supports developers with innovative features that far exceed the functional scope of traditional monitor debuggers. Visualisation of the internal peripheral of the processor means that there is often no need to resort to the hardware manual. Now, using Fujitsu’s Flash microcontollers, messages and data can be effortlessly transferred from the application to the PC. A demo version can be downloaded from http://www.accemic.com/download.htm
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