I've inherited my first ATMEL project. It's using an ATmega128A, coded in AVR Studio 4, with the Olimex AVR-JTAG-USB debugger. I've learned how to use these tools, although I'm still much more comfortable with PICs, MPLAB, and an ICD3.

I upgraded the design to an ATmega1281, which is a pin-compatible version with more horsepower. Now that the boards are assembled I realize that the new ATmega chip isn't supported by my debugger, and i need to get another debugger ASAP.

I'm looking at ATMEL's current selection of debuggers that are listed as compatible for this chip. There are five of them, although I've narrowed it down to these three: the ATMEL-ICE ($85), the JTAGICE3 ($99), and the JTAGICE-mkII ($399).

My question:

These all seem very similar! Are there any red flags here? I need to stay with AVR Studio 4, I need to do JTAG debugging on the actual target board. The rest is icing. Is there a strong reason to choose one over the others?



1 Answer 1


No answers; here's what I discovered:

  • Of these three, only the JTAGICE-mkII is supported by AVR Studio 4. It's also old, expensive, and (relatively) slow.
  • The JTAGICE3 is the de-facto standard for a lesser-expensive Atmel JTAG programmer/debugger, and is supported in AS5 and AS6.
  • The ATMEL-ICE is brand new, represents Atmel's attempt to hit the lower-cost market, and is supposedly better than the JTAGICE3 in every way (speed, breakpoints, etc). However, it hasn't gone through it's "new product growing pains" yet...

I chose to get the JTAGICE3, and migrate to Atmel Studio 6. The migration was easy. It took a while to figure out how to make the debugging work with AS6, but now it's working fine.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for figuring it our yourself and bothering to come back here to answer your own question. \$\endgroup\$
    – RJR
    May 14, 2014 at 0:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's worth considering also JTAGICE MKII-CN which is chineese clone of overpriced JTAGICE MKII. I'm using personally in AS4 (because don't want to install huge AS6) with ATMEGA2560, ATMEGA16U2 and AT90USB1286. I can see some bugs but it's rather problem of old AS4 (e.g.I cannot inspect fields from inherited classes, sometimes communication is lost etc.). \$\endgroup\$
    – TMa
    May 17, 2014 at 8:50

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