Release Notes for MPLAB® ICD 3
In-Circuit Debugger & Device (Production) Programmer

MPLAB® X IDE v1.95

DLL and Firmware versions:

 MPLAB ICD 3 Suite (OS, FW)   v01.29.33  (ICD3FW_012933.jam)


October 29, 2013


Table of Contents

1        Device Support

2        Other Support

3        Reference Documents

4        What's New in v1.95

5        Repairs and Enhancements Made in v1.95

6        USB Port Setup

7        Powering the Debugger and Target Board

8        Setting Up the Debugger and Target Board

9        Device Programming Considerations

10      Known Problems

11      Important Notes

12      Reserved Resources

13      Number of Hardware Breakpoints per Device

1      Device Support

Click the link below to see device support for “ICD 3 Debugging” (IC3D) and “ICD 3 Programming” (IC3P).

Device Support List

1.1      Programming Considerations

See "Device Programming Considerations" for special device programming considerations to avoid damage these devices:



1.2      Debugging Considerations

For low pin-count devices (8 to 28 pins), a Header board is usually required. See the Header Board Specification (DS51292) or Header help file (hlpHeader.chm) for a list of available headers by device.

For high pin-count devices (40 to 100 pins), a Header board may available, but is not required. See the Header Board Specification (DS51292) or Header help file (hlpHeader.chm) for a list of available headers by device.

2      Other Support

See the Readme for MPLAB X IDE.htm for other support information.

3      Reference Documents

The following documents may be found on our website:

·         Using MPLAB ICD 3 In-Circuit Debugger for MPLAB X IDE (DS52011)

·         MPLAB ICD 3 In-Circuit Debugger User's Guide for MPLAB X IDE (Help Only)

·         Development Tools Design Advisory (DS51764)

·         Header Specification (DS51292)

·         Transition Socket Specification (DS51194)

On-line help may be found in MPLAB X IDE under Help>Help Contents.

4      What's New in v1.95


5      Repairs and Enhancements Made in v1.95


6      USB Port Setup

MPLAB X IDE will install the USB device drivers for you; however, if you have previously used MPLAB IDE v8 or below, you should read “MPLAB IDE v8 Users – IMPORTANT” on the Start page.


USB 2.0 is recommended for use with these drivers. USB 1.1 may be used but may result in reduced performance.

If you change emulator units or PC USB ports, you will need to reinstall the drivers.

If you use a USB hub, it needs to be powered.

7      Powering the Debugger and Target Board

The MPLAB ICD 3 debugger is powered through its USB connection to the PC.

The target board is powered from its own supply. With some devices, the debugger can provide power to the target board, but is limited to a voltage range of 3-5v and current of 100 mA.

8      Setting Up the Debugger and Target Board

1.     Install the USB drivers on your PC, as discussed above (USB Port Setup). When this is complete, MPLAB ICD 3 debugger should be plugged into a USB port of the PC.

2.     If you have not already done so, connect to a target, either directly or through a header board. See on-line help or the user's guide for ways to connect the debugger to a target board.

3.     Power the target.

4.     Launch MPLAB X IDE.

5.     In MPLAB X IDE, create or open a project with the debugger selected as the Hardware tool. The debugger will automatically connect when code is executed. (To always be connected, see Tools>Options, Embedded, Generic Settings, “Maintain active connection to hardware tool”.) Also, the debugger can automatically detect if it has been disconnected/reconnected and if the target has been disconnected/reconnected.

6.     The debugger will now be ready for use.

9      Device Programming Considerations

9.1      For CodeGuard™ Security Devices

Several 16-bit devices allow customers to define up to 3 programming segments:  Boot, Secure and General. The purpose is to allow a customer to place proprietary data (libraries, IP address, etc.) into a protected boot or secure segment. That customer may then transfer these preprogrammed devices to another customer who would use the unprotected general segments.

For more details on CodeGuard Security functionality, please refer to the CodeGuard Security reference manual for 16-bit devices (DS70180) and dsPIC33F/PIC24H and dsPIC30F device programming specifications found on our website.

To program the preprogrammed devices, MPLAB IDE v8.00 and above provides a Secure Segment tab on the Settings dialog, accessed under either the Programmer or Debugger menu. This tab contains the following options:

·         Full Chip Erase/Program

·         Segment Programming

·         Boot, Secure & General Segments

·         Secure, General Segments

·         General Segment.

The programming function of this tool is now capable of identifying various device segments and their sizes upon connecting the device. Hence, these options allow you to selectively program the program memory segments and thus avoid accidental eraser of preprogrammed proprietary data (Libraries, IP, etc.)

9.2      For Non-CodeGuard Security Devices

When programming these devices, bulk erase commands should be issued between successive programming operations, i.e., erase, then program, then erase, then program, etc. Therefore, Microchip advises against multiple-stage programming sessions which may fail to verify. For example, you should NOT do the following sequence with these devices:

  1. load and program a particular hex file
  2. load a second hex file
  3. disable erase-all-before-programming
  4. specify an address sub-range
  5. program the device

10   Known Problems

The following is a list of known problems. For information on common problems, error messages and limitations please see Troubleshooting in the on-line help file for the MPLAB ICD 3 debugger.

10.1   Communications

If you do not use the included cables, make sure the cables you do use are: (1) not longer than 6 inches for standard communications or errors could result and (2) USB 2.0 compliant if you will be using USB 2.0 communications.

10.2   General Issues

Using the USB connection on a laptop PC with hibernate mode enabled will lock up the debugger if hibernate mode is entered. Unplug the USB cable from the MPLAB ICD 3 debugger and then plug the cable back in to resume debugging. You may want to disable hibernate mode while using the debugger. From Control Panel, select "Power Options" and disable hibernate mode.

Virus protection software can interfere with USB driver installation. If your development tool is not operational and you have tried reinstalling the USB drivers, consider disabling your virus protection software and reinstalling the USB drivers again.

SPI001-113: SPI misses SDI input when single-stepping with freeze in debug enabled.

10.2.1 PIC10F/12F/16F Devices

See Section 10.4 SSRs (System Service Requests).

10.2.2 PIC18F Devices

Watch window – It will take 1 cycle for the watch window to update properly for PORTx registers. Use an instruction that reads the port such as ‘MOVFF PORTx, PORTx_copy’ before the breakpoint is reached. This affects the following devices:



















For the PIC18F14K22 family, MPLAB X IDE debug/programming tools will not work below 1.9v. The work-around is to run the device above 1.9v.

PIC18F2520 MCUs: Table Read Protect (EBTRx) will not work unless Code Protect (CPx) is enabled. Also, once Table Read Protect is enabled, you cannot perform a Verify on the protected block.

PIC18F45K20/46K20 MCU family: There is a silicon issue that prevents some device revisions from being programmed with "power from programmer". The workaround is to use "power from target" OR increase the capacitance across VDD, VSS (for example to 47uF.)

For PIC18F8720, MEMCON cannot be read if in a microcontroller mode. This is a silicon issue.

See Section 10.4 SSRs (System Service Requests).

10.2.3 PIC24F/H Devices

See Section 10.4 SSRs (System Service Requests).

10.3   dsPIC33EP/PIC24EP Devices

See Section 10.4 SSRs (System Service Requests).

10.3.1 dsPIC30 Devices

See Section 10.4 SSRs (System Service Requests).

10.3.2 PIC32 Devices

See Section 10.4 SSRs (System Service Requests).

10.4   SSRs (System Service Requests)



Device Affected


MPLAB ICD 3 intermittently fails to connect when powering an AC162050 (PIC12F675) header or regular silicon from MPLAB ICD 3.

AC162050 (PIC12F675) header


Verify with preserve program memory checked may cause communications failure with MPLAB ICD 3 for the dsPIC33FJ256GP710 device.



PICkit 3, REAL ICE and MPLAB ICD 3 will not program a PIC24EP512GU810 below 3.1 v.



Trace is a MPLAB REAL ICE in-circuit emulator feature. Trace statements in code are compiled by the compiler when MPLAB ICD 3 is enabled, but ICD 3 does not have trace.

dsPIC33FJ16MC104, PIC24FJ16MC101


Getting error "ICD3Err0018: NMMR register read failed" when debugging dsPIC33EP256GP502 with certain ECAN Shadow registers being added to Watch window or being viewed in the SFR window.

dsPIC33EP256GP502. Other devices in the EP family might be affected too.


Self-writing the EEPROM in user code, the value being read back by the ICD 3 may not be correct if the ICD 3 is loaded as a programmer. Note this is only seen under the PICDEM 2.



Unable to initialize MPLAB ICD 3 or REAL ICE when PICDEM FS USB is connected to USB port on a Windows 7, 64-bit machine.



User ID is not programmed when using debug mode.



Two reserved locations 0xEF4 - 0xEF5 are not being reserved in RAM during a debug session for the PIC18F8722.



ICD3CMD fails to release the target PIC32MX devices from reset after the programming cycle is complete.



MPLAB ICD 3 may fail programming when a user switches the device to the PIC24F64GA002 from PIC24F16KA102 device.



For the PIC32 family of devices, MPLAB ICD 3 may be unable to reset or single step correctly after a Soft Reset is performed.



ICD3CMD fails to connect to the device if an older version of MPLAB is active.
Workaround - Launch the MPLAB IDE version that the command line tool is taken from.



The breakpoint doesn't halt after breaking the first time for the AC162059 (PIC12F683) header.

AC162059 (PIC12F683) header


For PIC24F devices during a programming/verify operation (or subsequent verification operation) of user code that performs self-writes and/or self-erases to program space, a verify sequence may fail if the code execution occurs within the first execution cycles following reset.

Workaround: Place a delay in your code before the code section that performs the self-write and/or self-erase. The specific delay value may need to be adjusted, but 100 ms would be a conservative value to start out with. Here is a C language example that illustrates the workaround:

int main (void)


    // Place 100 ms delay here before any self-write/self-erase code

        :       :       :




Step-over will cause code to run if the following statement is part of a sequenced-breakpoint. Stepping over a function works by setting a breakpoint right after the function and issuing a Run. However if the next statement has a breakpoint already, the IDE will not set a breakpoint assuming that the existing breakpoint will suffice. If that existing breakpoint however is part of a sequence, MPLAB IDE will still not issue a breakpoint even though that execution isn't guaranteed to stop at the following statement (since the whole sequence has to be followed first before program halts).



PIC24FJ256DA210 Family: Data Memory not functional unless 96 MHz PLL is enabled. This is a silicon issue that is being worked on.



If you are not able to enter debug mode when power-up timer is enabled for the following devices, please disable power-up timer during the debugging session. (If the final application firmware requires power-up timer enabled, please enable it after the debugging session is complete and program the part with the final application firmware.)












SPI misses SDI input when single-stepping with freeze in debug enabled.



Don't read the FIFO when single stepping in debug mode. The FIFO should get set back to the user mode pointer when exiting debug, but instead it just keeps incrementing on its own. Work-around: Always reads the full FIFO.

dsPIC33EP512MC20x, dsPIC33EP512MC50x, dsPIC33EP512GP50x


PIC24F devices can start to run after programming but before verification. This can result in a verification failure if the code performs self-write to either program memory or Data EE.



When reading a device with a programmer, code or write protection applied to either the General or Auxiliary Segment is being applied to both; therefore all flash memory will read back as zero. Only devices with no code or write protection applied can be successfully read using a programmer. This limitation applies to revision B1 (0x4002) of the following devices:















10.5   Engineering Technical Notes (ETNs)

The following ETNs are related to the MPLAB ICD 3 in-circuit debugger. Please see the product webpage for details.

ETN-29: Applies to Assembly #10-00421-RC or below.

11   Important Notes

Make sure that table reads/writes are not code protected.

At low Vdd, bulk erase will not erase code protect bits.

11.1   PIC18 Devices

Before setting the Stopwatch between any 2 Software breakpoints, ensure that the total number of Hardware breakpoints being used is always 2 less than the maximum number of Hardware breakpoints available for the device.

11.2   16-Bit Devices

1.     RB0 and RB1 pins:
If the MPLAB ICD 3 debugger is selected as a debugger, it initializes all the A/D input pins - AN0 (RB0) through AN15 (RB15) pins - as "digital" pins, by setting all 16 bits in the ADPCFG register.

  1. If you have selected a pair of "debug pins" (EMUD/EMUC, EMUD1/EMUC1, EMUD2/EMUC2 or EMUD3/EMUC3) that are multiplexed with A/D input pin functions on the particular dsPIC30f device being used, then you must never clear the bits in the ADPCFG register that correspond to those A/D pins.

For example, if EMUD3 and EMUC3 are used as the debug pins on a dsPIC30F2010 device, then bits 0 and 1 of the ADPCFG register must remain set at all times. Similarly, if EMUD and EMUC are used as the debug pins on a dsPIC30F5011 device, then bits 6 and 7 of the ADPCFG register must remain set at all times. In such cases, you must also take proper precaution to isolate the application circuitry from the corresponding A/D pins during debugging.

  1. If your application needs to use certain A/D pins as analog input pins, then your code must clear the corresponding bits in the ADPCFG register during A/D module initialization.

For example, if AN4 and AN5 are required as analog input pins, then bits 4 and 5 of the ADPCFG register must be cleared.

2.     SLEEP, IDLE, WDT, Clock Switching:
For dsPIC devices, debug operations can be executed on programs which use SLEEP or IDLE mode, Watchdog Timer, and/or Clock Switching.

3.     Debug during SLEEP or IDLE Mode:
When the device is in SLEEP and IDLE mode and a Halt command is issued, the MPLAB ICD 3 debugger will wake up the device and halt execution on the instruction immediately following the PWRSAV instruction.

4.     Interrupts:

  1. In general, single-stepping an instruction will not generate an interrupt or trap, because the corresponding interrupt/trap status flag bit would not get set. Essentially, the interrupt or trap condition would be ignored.
  2. However, if the user has explicitly set an interrupt/trap flag bit, either in the user program or by modifying the status flag values in the MPLAB Watch, SFR or File Registers window, then the interrupt/trap would get generated, and the user would be able to single-step into the Interrupt or Trap Service Routine.

5.     Break Point Behavior:
If a break point is set on an instruction that follows a taken branch, the Breakpoint will be triggered even though the branch went elsewhere.

6.     Break Point Behavior and Skidding:
It is possible that a breakpoint halt will exhibit program memory skidding in that the execution stops N instructions after reaching the breakpoint. The following definitions are provided and referred to:

·         One skid  - A breakpoint occurs AFTER the instructions is executed (PC+2)

·         Two skid  - A break point occurs AFTER the NEXT instruction (PC+4)

Break Point Behavior:

·         If a Non-Program-Flow, modifying, Single-Word, Two-Cycle instruction (such as Table or PSV) precedes a break point instruction, then the breakpoint occurs BEFORE the instruction at the breakpoint address is executed (ONE SKID).

·         All other instructions have a "TWO SKID", which means the break occurs AFTER the NEXT instruction is executed.

7.     The CAN module, unlike the other peripherals, does not get frozen in the following situations:

·         during a Halt

·         during a stop on a Breakpoint

·         after a Single-Step

For example, if you set a Breakpoint and run to it, the CAN module continues to run in the background, and it may seem that data transmissions and receptions have completed immediately.

8.     DISICNT register:
In five dsPIC30F devices (dsPIC30F6010, dsPIC30F6011, dsPIC30F6012, dsPIC30F6013 and dsPIC30F6014), since the DISICNT register continues to decrement even when the device is halted by the debugger, the DISICNT value will always be seen as 0x0000 in the Watch, SFR and File Registers windows. To monitor the DISICNT value, add code to copy the DISICNT register contents to a W register or memory location and monitor the value of the corresponding W register or memory location in the Watch, SFR or File Registers window.

9.     ADCMD bit in PMD1 register:
The user application must not set the ADCMD bit (bit 0 of PMD1 register). This would lead to incorrect ICD operation.

10.  SPLIM register:
When using the MPLAB ICD 3 debugger as a debugger, your software must initialize the Stack Pointer Limit register (SPLIM) before using the stack (device errata).

11.  Single-stepping a DO loop:
In five dsPIC30F devices (dsPIC30F6010, dsPIC30F6011, dsPIC30F6012, dsPIC30F6013 and dsPIC30F6014), single-stepping through a DO loop in dsPIC30F assembly code results in the loop getting executed one less time than expected.

12.  Pass Counter feature in Advanced Breakpoints:
For a specified Pass count of 'N', the code will break after 'N+1' occurrences of the breakpoint instead of 'N' occurrences.

13.  If you need to use the Fail-Safe Clock Monitor feature on a dsPIC device when using the MPLAB ICD 3 debugger for debugging your application, a Watchdog Timer Device Reset will occur, even if the Watchdog Timer has not been explicitly enabled in the application. To work around this issue, use the "CLRWDT" instruction in the main loop of your application code. This will ensure that the Watchdog Timer gets cleared before it causes the device to reset.

14.  For PIC16F616 devices, the MPLAB ICD 3 does not row erase the device below 4.5V.  A bulk erase will be required which must take place with Vdd above 4.5V. (ICD3-125)

11.3   32-Bit Devices


12   Reserved Resources

Due to the built-in in-circuit debugging capability of ICE devices, and the ICSP function offered by the debugger, the MPLAB ICD 3 in-circuit debugger uses on-chip resources when debugging, i.e., some device resources are reserved for use by the debugger.

Refer to the on-line help for the most up-to-date list of resources used by the debugger.

13   Number of Hardware Breakpoints per Device

To see the number of breakpoints supported for your device and the number of breakpoints used in your project, use the Dashboard window (Window>Dashboard).

Breakpoint support per device is as follows:


Number of Breakpoints



PIC16F1xxx enhanced




PIC18F enhanced



3 or 5 (Note 1)











Note 1: There is a limitation for these devices that only 1 data capture is available.