Release Notes for MPLAB® REAL ICE™ In-Circuit Emulator &
Device (Production) Programmer

MPLAB® X IDE v1.95


October 29, 2013


Table of Contents

1       Device Support

2       Other Support

3       Reserved Resources

4       Reference Documents

5       What's New in v1.95

6       Repairs and Enhancements Made in v1.95

7       USB Port Setup

8       Powering the Emulator and Target Board

9       Setting Up the Emulator and Target Board

10     Device Programming Considerations

11     Known Problems

12     Important Notes

13     Number of Hardware Breakpoints per Device

14     Durability/Insertion Life Cycle of the Card Guide

1         Device Support

Click the link below to see device support for “REAL ICE Debugging” (RID) and “REAL ICE Programming” (RIP).

·         Device Support List

For feature support by device family, see the emulator on-line help file, “Device and Feature Support”.

1.1      Programming Considerations

See section 10 for special device programming considerations to avoid damage these devices:



1.2      Trace Considerations

No Native trace available for these devices:


dsPIC30F (2)

PIC18F (1)

PIC32MX (3)

(1) Except for PIC18FXXJXX devices
(2) Except for dsPIC30F SMPS devices (dsPIC30F1010/2020/2023)
(3) These devices use PIC32 instruction trace, if available (see below)

No real-time data capture available for these devices:


dsPIC30F (2)

PIC18F (1)


(1) Except for PIC18FXXJXX devices
(2) Except for dsPIC30F SMPS devices (dsPIC30F1010/2020/2023)

No SPI trace is available for these devices:



















No I/O Port trace is available for these devices:



















The following devices cannot perform data capture, runtime watches, and Native trace at 40 MIPS, or use trace on Ports C and D:

dsPIC33F RevA1 DSCs

PIC32 instruction trace is available for these devices:





1.3      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 be 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      Reserved Resources

Due to the built-in in-circuit debugging capability of ICE devices, and the ICSP function offered by the emulator, the MPLAB REAL ICE in-circuit emulator uses on-chip resources when debugging, i.e., some device resources are reserved for use by the emulator. For a list of reserved resources by device for the emulator, click the link below.

·         MPLAB REAL ICE In-circuit Emulator Reserved Resources by Device

4      Reference Documents

The following documents may be found on our website:

·         Using MPLAB REAL ICE In-Circuit Emulator for MPLAB X IDE (DS51997)

·         MPLAB REAL ICE In-Circuit Emulator User's Guide for MPLAB X IDE (Help Only)

·         Development Tools Design Advisory (DS51764)

·         Header Board Specification (DS51292)

·         Transition Socket Specification (DS51194)

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

5      What's New in v1.95

·         Profile displays for Function and PC – Windows added for Function and PC profiling display using the MPLAB REAL ICE in-circuit emulator. See emulator documentation for details.

·         Emulation Header (-ME2) support – Selected features for the first emulation header (AC244055) are supported. For details see the “Emulation Extension Pak and Emulation Header Help” in MPLAB X IDE. Issues exist for this header. See Emulation Header SSRs.

6      Repairs and Enhancements Made in v1.95





Event breakpoints work on halt but not when running.



The trace log file path must be correct for your PC or trace will not work. You can Program and Debug Run, but when you halt, you will see an error in the Output window and the Trace window will be empty. There will be no warning of an invalid path.
Workaround: Edit the trace log file path for your PC.


7      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.

8      Powering the Emulator and Target Board

The MPLAB REAL ICE emulator is powered through its USB connection to the PC.

The target board is powered from its own supply. The emulator cannot provide power to the target board.

9      Setting Up the Emulator and Target Board

1.     Install the USB drivers on your PC, as discussed above (USB Port Setup). When this is complete, MPLAB REAL ICE emulator 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 emulator 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 emulator selected as the Hardware tool. The emulator 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 emulator can automatically detect if it has been disconnected/reconnected and if the target has been disconnected/reconnected.

6.     The emulator will now be ready for use.

10   Device Programming Considerations

10.1   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.)

10.2   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

11   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 REAL ICE emulator. Bolded prefix represents internal tracking numbers.


·         Communication Issues

·         General Issues

·         Emulator SSRs

·         Related SSRs

·         Engineering Technical Notes (ETNs)

Emulator Accessories

·         Emulation Header SSRs

·         Power Monitor SSRs

11.1   Communication Issues

·         During firmware updates, communication can be lost if your PC is a Lenovo® Laptop running Window® OS which contains the following USB 3.0 chipset: “Renesas Electronics USB 3.0 Host Controller”, VendorID = 1033, DeviceID = 0194.

Work-around: Start>All Programs>Renesas Electronics>USB 3.0 Host Controller Driver>USB 3.0 Host Controller Utility. The utility contains a checkbox that you should check to disable it in the pop-up window.

·         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.

11.2   General Issues

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

·         Running a data capture at greater than 16 MIPS may result in a bad header error. At higher speeds decrease the number of data capture points or the frequency of the capture. For example create a trigger on a temporary variable that gets changed ever nth cycle.

·         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.

RI-38: If the target voltage is changed while the MPLAB REAL ICE emulator is connected, the emulator’s Vdd may be out of range.

MPLABX-390: Problems with connecting a pendrive while MPLAB ICD 3 or MPLAB REAL ICE emulator used as Debugger in Win XP 32 bit. These problems do not occur if the USB pendrive is connected before MPLAB X IDE connects to these tools.

MPLABX-303: Mac OSx - 32 seems to think MPLAB REAL ICE emulator was MPLAB ICD 3 and PICkit 3 was PICkit 2. If the tool is plugged into the SAME USB port, then this problem can occur. If the tool is plugged into a different USB port, then this problem is not observed.

11.2.1   dsPIC33EP/PIC24EP Devices

·         The breakpoint dialog doesn’t accept Auxiliary memory addresses. The only way to set breakpoints in Aux memory is via double clicking.

·         If there is a Software breakpoint on a function call to a function that is in Auxiliary memory, single stepping over that breakpoint will not work properly.

·         Verifying Auxiliary Memory sometimes will proceed even when verifying Program memory has failed.

·         When programming in Debugger mode, a message may come up that protection bits need to be turned off even though they show as being turned off in the Configuration Bits window.

·         The UART does not freeze when in debug mode for PIC24EPxxxGU/dsPIC33EPxxxMU devices.

11.3   Emulator SSRs

The following are enumerated issues for the emulator.





PIC32 runtime watch does not work for packed unsigned unsigned shorts.

PIC32MX360F512L and other PIC32s as well


Code cannot run past the first software breakpoint when two or more contiguous software breakpoints are set in assembly language code.

dsPIC33EP64MC502, dsPIC33EP512GM710


For PIC18F97J94 device family MPLAB IDE seems to enable only 3 runtime watches when the device has 5 breakpoint/data capture resources

PIC18F97J94 device family


Not halting on data breakpoints on the STKPTR register.



"Failed Setting Software Breakpoint" errors seen when setting Software breakpoints for PIC18F4520 using MPLAB X IDE.



Debugging issue: Program Counter does not reset at Fosc = 32 kHz but will at higher Fosc frequencies - (frequency-dependent issue).

PIC18F45K50 44-pin rev A0 using dedicated ICSP channel (ICPORT), PIC18F46K22, PIC18F14K22


Register 'PCLATU' cannot be cleared to 0x00 (value is stuck at 0x20).



Runtime read/update of watch window variables doesn't take effect on dsPIC33EP/PIC24EP devices.



High speed (~40 MIPS) runtime watch seems to cause data corruption.



Cannot preserve Auxiliary memory on dsPIC33EP and PIC24EP devices

dsPIC33EP and PIC24EP devices


When using Data Capture on a PIC32, an incorrect symbol (_persist_begin) appears in the variable list. In general, the first initialized global variable will be replaced.

All PIC32MX devices that support data capture such as the PIC32MX795F512L


The error "NMMR register read failed" is occasionally seen on dsPIC33EP and PIC32 parts when using the emulator as a debugger.



For PIC18F devices, Trace and Log macros within tight loops do not work when using IO PORT Trace. The workaround is to use NOP instructions within the loop.

PIC18F devices


Runtime Watch & Data Capture have a silicon errata limitation which prevents these features from working up to the maximum Fosc frequency of 32 MHz for Enhanced Midrange devices.

Work-around: In order to ensure reliable Runtime Watch & Data Capture operation it is recommended to keep the maximum Fosc at or below 3 MHz during the debugging phase of product development.

PIC16F1xxx devices


Runtime watch does not work for arrays defined in a struct for PIC32MX devices.

PIC32MX devices


Add Breakpoint Dialog box does not accept Auxiliary memory addresses.

Work-around: One can go into the program memory window and set the breakpoint.

dsPIC33EP512MU810 family


Using REAL ICE as a debugger for the PIC18F46J50 (or PIC18F46J11), the SPI Trace is not functioning as expected.

PIC18F46J50 & PIC18F46J11, possibly others.


[PIC32 REAL ICE Trace] Instructions in the trace window have incorrect addresses when compared with the actual memory contents for PIC32 devices in some cases.

PIC32MX devices


[PIC32 Trace] PIC32 instruction trace does not match disassembly when instruction in branch delay slot is other than NOP

PIC32MX family

11.4   Related SSRs

The following are enumerated issues for other tools that relate to the emulator.





Software breakpoints do not work on the PIC16(L)F1459 family of devices. This is a silicon issue.

PIC16(L)F1459 family


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.


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

        :       :       :


PIC24F devices


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



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:














11.5   Engineering Technical Notes (ETNs)

The following ETNs are related to the MPLAB REAL ICE in-circuit emulator. Please see the product webpage for details.

·         ETN-30: Applies to Assembly #10-00401-R1 or below.

11.6   Emulation Header SSRs

The following are bulleted and enumerated issues for emulator headers (-ME2).





No warning on Trace buffer overflow.



Sporadic Trace window refresh issues show incorrect trace data. Using the mouse wheel more likely to cause this issue than using the window scroll bar.

Workaround: Put focus on another window and then return to the trace window.



Sequence breakpoint information is not being saved in the MPLAB X IDE project.



Sometimes runtime watches stop running.
Workaround: Halt project execution and run again.


11.7   Power Monitor SSRs

The following are enumerated issues for the Power Monitor (PMON).





Power Monitor data is not updated after single stepping. Only Run is supported.


12   Important Notes

·         For PIC16F616 devices, the emulator 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)

·         When using real-time data capture trigger or Capture trace, standard communication can only provide a data rate of 15 MIPS. For speeds up to 40 MIPS, high-speed communication will be required, via the Performance Pak.

·         When using I/O Port trace, make sure multiplexed device port pins are set as I/O pins.

·         When adding/removing Capture or I/O Port trace points, you must rebuild and reprogram the project the device – end debug session, add trace points, and then start debug session again.

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

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

12.1   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.

12.2   16-Bit Devices

1.     RB0 and RB1 pins:
If the MPLAB REAL ICE emulator 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 REAL ICE emulator 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 ICE operation.

10.  SPLIM register:
When using the MPLAB REAL ICE emulator 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 REAL ICE emulator 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.

12.3   32-Bit Devices

·         Instruction Trace:  When using the trace functionality ensure TROEN bit on DDPCON register is not modified in your code. Refer to the data sheet for more information.

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 Hardware Breakpoints





PIC16F1xxx enhanced

1 or 3





PIC18F enhanced




3 or 5

















Note 1: Refer to the Development Tools Selector (DTS) on to select your device and determine the number of available breakpoints for the device and its related processor extension pak or debug header.

Note 2: There is a limitation for these devices that only 1 data capture is available.

14   Durability/Insertion Life Cycle of the Card Guide

The card guide is the part of the emulator pod where the communications board (either standard or high-speed) is inserted into the pod.


Durability Summary Report





(The “-H” 50u” thick Au Plating is currently non-standard.)


SCOPE: To perform the following tests: Durability up to 10,000 cycles.

For the complete report, see: