When an interrupt occurs, the Global Interrupt Enable I-bit is cleared and all interrupts are disabled. The
user software can write logic one to the I-bit to enable nested interrupts. All enabled interrupts can then
interrupt the current interrupt routine. The I-bit is automatically set when a Return from Interrupt
instruction – RETI – is executed.
There are basically two types of interrupts:
The first type is triggered by an event that sets the Interrupt Flag. For these interrupts, the Program
Counter is vectored to the actual Interrupt Vector in order to execute the interrupt handling routine, and
hardware clears the corresponding Interrupt Flag. Interrupt Flags can also be cleared by writing a logic
one to the flag bit position(s) to be cleared. If an interrupt condition occurs while the corresponding
interrupt enable bit is cleared, the Interrupt Flag will be set and remembered until the interrupt is enabled,
or the flag is cleared by software. Similarly, if one or more interrupt conditions occur while the Global
Interrupt Enable bit is cleared, the corresponding Interrupt Flag(s) will be set and remembered until the
Global Interrupt Enable bit is set, and will then be executed by order of priority.
The second type of interrupts will trigger as long as the interrupt condition is present. These interrupts do
not necessarily have Interrupt Flags. If the interrupt condition disappears before the interrupt is enabled,
the interrupt will not be triggered. When the AVR exits from an interrupt, it will always return to the main
program and execute one more instruction before any pending interrupt is served.
The Status Register is not automatically stored when entering an interrupt routine, nor restored when
returning from an interrupt routine. This must be handled by software.
When using the CLI instruction to disable interrupts, the interrupts will be immediately disabled. No
interrupt will be executed after the CLI instruction, even if it occurs simultaneously with the CLI instruction.
The following example shows how this can be used to avoid interrupts during the timed EEPROM write
Assembly Code Example
in r16, SREG ; store SREG value
cli ; disable interrupts during timed sequence
sbi EECR, EEMPE ; start EEPROM write
sbi EECR, EEPE
out SREG, r16 ; restore SREG value (I-bit)
C Code Example
cSREG = SREG; /* store SREG value */
/* disable interrupts during timed sequence */
EECR |= (1<<EEMPE); /* start EEPROM write */
EECR |= (1<<EEPE);
SREG = cSREG; /* restore SREG value (I-bit) */
Note: Please refer to About Code Examples.
When using the SEI instruction to enable interrupts, the instruction following SEI will be executed before
any pending interrupts, as shown in this example.
Assembly Code Example
sei ; set Global Interrupt Enable
sleep ; enter sleep, waiting for interrupt
; note: will enter sleep before any pending interrupt(s)
Atmel ATmega1284 [DATASHEET]