The main use of the simulator is as a debugger. Debugging with the simulator is initiated in the same manner as with other tools. More on this can be found in Debugging.

When the simulator starts, it implicitly applies a Power-On Reset (POR) to the model. Hence, the simulator will start at the reset vector, with the POR reset flag set. Likewise, the Atmel Studio Reset button applies a POR to the simulator. If watchdog is programmed to generate a reset, it can by caught by means of setting a breakpoint at the reset vector and let the simulator run.

When in debugging mode, the simulator has full support for all debugging features of Atmel Studio, including all views, unlimited number of breakpoints, and so on.

There is no way to attach to a running simulator, or detach/disconnect from it and keep it running in the background,. Like in the programming dialog, the simulated device ceases to exist when the user stops debugging. Again, this is a restriction that may be lifted in future versions of Atmel Studio,

Because the simulator is a software model it is not limited by the OCD system on the device, and has certain capabilities that the hardware tools do not share:

  • Unlimited numbers of breakpoints regardless of device and OCD system limitations.

  • Set and delete breakpoints while target is running.

  • Debug devices that lacks an OCD system.

  • Access to locations that can not be reached by the OCD system.

  • Simulate devices that does not exist yet (early support before samples are available).

  • Provide features that have no counterpart in hardware, for instance cycle counter.

  • Unlike real hardware, the simulator allows flash and EEPROM contents to be changed directly using the Atmel Studio memory view.