Visual Studio Code extension for enhancing debug capabilities for Cortex-M Microcontrollers
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Marcel Ball
Latest commit 3c429a7 Jun 15, 2018

Cortex Debug

Visual Studio Code with Cortex-Debug Installed

Debugging support for ARM Cortex-M Microcontrollers with the following features:

  • Support J-Link, OpenOCD GDB Server
  • Partial support for PyOCD and textane/stlink (st-util) GDB Servers (SWO can only be captured via a serial port)
  • Initial support for the Black Magic Probe (This has not been as heavily tested; SWO can only be captured via a serial port)
  • Cortex Core Register Viewer
    • In some cases the st-util GDB server can report incomplete/incorrect registers, so there may be some issues here.
  • Peripheral Register Viewer (Defined through standard SVD file)
  • SWO Decoding - "console" text output and binary data (signed and unsigned 32-bit integers, Q16.16 fixed point integers, single percision floating point values)
    • The registers that are part of the DWT, TPIU, and ITM debug components will automatically be configured and do not need to be set in firmware.
    • Firmware may still need to enable the SWO output pin - as this part of the setup is microcontroller dependant.
    • Decoding ETM data over the SWO pin is not currently supported.
  • Support for Custom ITM Data Decoders:
    • Ability to define JavaScript modules to decode complex data formats streamed over one or more ITM ports. Data can be printed to a output window, or sent to the graphing system.
  • Live graphing of decoded ITM data.
  • Raw Memory Viewer ("Cortex-Debug: View Memory" command)
  • Ability to view and step through the disassembled binary. There are three ways that disassembled code will be shown:
    • Disassembly code will automatically be shown if it cannot locate the corresponding source code.
    • You can manually see the disassembly for a particular function ("Cortex-Debug: View Disassembly (Function)" command)
    • You can set the debugger to always show show disassembly ("Cortex-Debug: Set Force Disassembly" command)
  • Globals and Static scopes in the variables view
  • Initial support for Rust code (most functionality is working; disassembly views and variables view may still have issues)
  • RTOS Support (J-Link and OpenOCD - RTOS supported depends on GDB server support)
    • As a general rule do not try to use stepping instructions before the scheduler of your RTOS has started - in many cases this tends to crash the GDB servers or leave it in an inconsistent state.

Planned Features

  • Additional Graphing Options
  • Enhanced SVD Auto-selection
  • Semihosting Support




See for usage information


Parts of this extension are based upon Jan Jurzitza's (WebFreak) code-debug extension ( His project provided an excellent base for GDB MI parsing and interaction.