Recommendations on JTAG/SWD programmers for SAMD devices

Both Spark-fun and Adafruit recommend SEGGER J-Link BASE for JTAG/SWD programming.
Does anyone know what benefits the J-Link base has over the Atmel-ICE?
Are there any other good options?

The plan is to program the UF2 bootloader onto SAMD devices for a commercial project.

I do have experience with the Microchip Pick Kit 3.

The atmel-ice is a rebranded Segger oem solution. I think the capabilities are mostly the same with the base. The atmel ice will only work on atmel products however. Also the atmel ice shows up as a CMSIS-dap interface so it will not work with segger tools.

I use my atmel ice with the same configurations I’d use for dev boards. Something like openocd or pyocd. You can also use the atmel/microchip tools.

I do always end up using my jlink base though because it just works on any cortex m chip I happen to be using. So for a developer environment I suggest it. If you are making production programmers for just putting the boot loader on a sam chip. The atmel ice will work just fine. There are also cheaper CMSIS adapters including those based on the daplink project. Just depends on how “professional” the setup is.

perhaps i am mistaken but i didn’t think the Atmel-ICE is a rebranded segger is it ? it’s a UC3A4 AVR.

the SAM-Ice is a reflashed JLink for sure.

Atmel-ICE supports DebugWire i don’t believe J-Links do.

You are correct! Sorry about that. Combined my memory about the two products a little.

It does look like it supports debugwire. I don’t think the OP is looking for debugwire but worth noting in case maybe they have an extra need the didn’t originally think of.

Thanks for the help @zlittell and @charliex. I am going to try out the Atmel-ICE. If I need to work on other non-atmel chips I will revisit the SEGGER J-Link.

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One thing I can add in Jlink’s (I have the BASE) favour - it’s fast. You can flash a Particle board in 2/3 seconds vs. 30 with a DapLink.

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you probably will not regret having a J-Link Base. They are very useful. The cost is also quite high but I guess worth it?


Segger also provides a lot of very useful software that works with J-Link. A lot of people are happy to spend money on high-quality hand tools, because they say the enhanced productivity cancels-out the higher cost.

While I definitely believe that cheap hand tools (or soldering tools from aliexpress) often are quite acceptable, if I were soldering all day I’d want the JBC. I do write FW all day (sometimes), and my opinion is that the Segger J-Link tools are worth the money.


I’m super happy - I’m flashing a couple NRF boards right now and it’s a completely transparent interface.
I’ve never had any issues.

I got my hands on the also-pricey Tag-Connect, and it’s so worth it vs. holding pogo pins to a board. Saving on connectors in the BOM helps too. (There are good alternatives recently)

I’m starting some non-billable Nordic work to enhance my capabilities. I’m going to go with the built-in J-Link in the Nordic Devkit but, long-term, it seems like I should invest in the right J-Link hardware. There’s the BASE and then the PLUS or PRO with unlimited breakpoints and faster interfaces.

I’m curious if anyone got one and decided they should have gone for the other (either up or down grade)? In the Time=Money equation, it doesn’t take much before having paid for the pricier tools becomes the better solution…

I went with the PLUS Compact, but have used the actual capabilities of the higher end model very little. I don’t regret paying the amount I did though, which is surprising :smiley:

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I’d probably stick with the built-in, unless you really need the faster or unlimited breakpoints etc. I guess it’s rare I find tracking more than a few is useful myself for most general work.

The main use-case I have for the faster JTAG is when I’m doing stuff like downloading a lot of RAM or using their real-time sampling or RTT features. I use some of those especially with some automated stuff.

To satisfy the engineer in you - the “Ultra Plus” has a FPGA in it. The Base/Plus HW is the same, just the serial number/coded features are different. So getting the high-speed sampling features of Ultra Plus you are paying for more physical hardware.