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Honored Contributor I

Is there a difference between debug on hardware and run on hardware?

Hello all, I have started a course on Embedded system design using the nios II and a de-2 board. We are provided with the following code: 

#include <sys/alt_irq.h> // for irq support function# include "system.h" // for SOPC defines /*============================== Integer Types ===============================*/ typedef signed char sint8; // signed 8 bit values typedef unsigned char uint8; // unsigned 8 bit values typedef signed short sint16; // signed 16 bit values typedef unsigned short uint16; // unsigned 16 bit values typedef signed long sint32; // signed 32 bit values typedef unsigned long uint32; // unsigned 32 bit values typedef float real32; // 32 bit real values //***************************************************************************** // Define symbolic constants //***************************************************************************** //***************************************************************************** // Define private data //***************************************************************************** int main(void) { // red_leds is a pointer to the R_LEDs uint32 * redLedsPtr = (uint32 *) RED_LEDS_BASE; // switches points to the switches volatile uint32* switchesPtr = (uint32*) SWITCHES_BASE; while(1) { // set the LEDR equal to SW *(redLedsPtr) = *(switchesPtr); } /* while */ return 0; } /* main */  

when run each switch turns on each corresponding led on the board. I then removed the volatile keyword and rebuilt the project, however it still runs perfectly on the board. I would have expected the compiler to basically optimize away the contents of the while loop. I have two questions, if no breakpoint is set in the code is there a difference between running it normally or in debug mode? Is there something I may be missing as far as getting the rebuilt program code loaded on to the board? I have been using quartus for the last year targeting the de-2 board for previous courses but this is my first time using the nios eclipse IDE. Any help would be appreciated, thanks.
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Honored Contributor I

So, it turns out I had compiler optimizations turned off. Switched them on to level 2 and the program worked (failed actually) as expected. Are things like optimization settings specific to each project? Or is there a way to specify settings globally?