Working With Device and Tool Packs in MPLAB® X IDE

Last modified by Microchip on 2024/06/24 06:34


As of MPLAB® X  Integrated Development Environment (IDE) v5.00, device files are grouped into versioned Device Family Packs (DFPs). Currently, each MPLAB X IDE version comes with device packs, though as of v5.30 you can upgrade the device pack version to include new devices, new device feature support, or device bug fix support. For more information about DFPs see the "Introduction to Device Family Packs" page.

As of MPLAB X IDE v5.35, tool packs are also included, with information on hardware debug tool firmware. In subsequent releases, you are able to upgrade the tool pack version to include new firmware, new device support, or bug-fix support.

MPLAB X IDE requires specific information about the devices and hardware tools chosen for your project in order to configure and build the project and subsequently program or debug the devices. This information is contained in various support files which are packaged and distributed in two types of structured bundles called device packs and tool packs. The packs are named by the device families or tools supported and revisions are tracked by version numbers on the packs.

There are three of these types of packs used by MPLAB X IDE, Device Family Packs (DFPs), Tool Packs, and CMSIS Packs. DFPs and Tool Packs are specific and proprietary to Microchip devices and tools. CMSIS packs are specialized device packs that support Arm®-based devices and are supplied by Arm.

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Installed Pack Locations

Packs are placed in a system directory when MPLAB X IDE installs. For example, in Microsoft® Windows® 7 OS, C:\Program Files\Microchip\MPLABX\vx.xx\packs.

In this subdirectory, packs have to follow naming conventions:

  • Device Family Pack names: <pack_name>_DFP, e.g., ATmega_DFP
  • Tool Pack names: <hardware_tool_abbreviated name>, e.g., icd4

Packs may be in a user directory if they are placed after an MPLAB X IDE install. For example, in Windows 7 OS, C:\User\Microchip\UserName\.mchp-packs.

The file structure inside a pack can change at any time. For more on pack structure, see the "Open-CMSIS-Pack" documentation page.

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Install Packs during MPLAB X IDE Install

When installing MPLAB X IDE (as of MPLAB X IDE v5.20), you may now choose the Microchip device support you want installed. This will install the packs related to the device architecture(s) chosen. Installing only what you need saves disk space and increases the speed of installation.

MPLAB Setup window

Figure 1: MPLAB X IDE Install - Select Applications dialog

Information on installing MPLAB X IDE may be found in the MPLAB X IDE Readme.

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Install Packs after MPLAB X IDE Install

Select Tools > Packs to open a list of versioned packs that you can install via the MPLAB Pack Manager.
When first opened, the list is filtered for packs known to be compatible with the current IDE release. For other options, click on the down arrow on Show Packs Compatible with MPLAB X IDE x.xx and select from the list of filters.
On the Device Family Packs or Tool Packs tabs, click to Update, Install, or Uninstall versions. The number on the tab reflects the number of new DFPs or TPs.
At the bottom are pack locations for reference. For more on System packs location and User Packs location, see the "Installed Pack Locations" section. For more on the Remote Packs repository, see the "Packs on the Web" section.
MPLAB Pack Manager - DFP List

Figure 2: MPLAB Pack Manager - DFP List

MPLAB Pack Manager - Tool Pack List

Figure 3: MPLAB Pack Manager - Tool Pack List

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Switch Installed Packs

For a project open in MPLAB X IDE, right-click on an open project name in the Projects window and select Properties to open the Project Properties window. View the Packs list to see available packs for the project device.
Project Properties - Packs

Figure 4: Project Properties - Packs

Packs followed by a [Resolve] link are not included in that version of MPLAB X IDE. To install the pack, click on the link.

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Packs on the Web

Visit the Microchip Packs Repository to find and download pack versions from the web.

Click on the name of a pack to see pack information, such as Supported Devices and Pack Version History.

Microchip Packs Repository

 Figure 5: Microchip Packs Repository

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