A system for performing non-intrusive trace is provided which receives trace information from one or more processors. The trace system may be configured by a user to operate in various modes for flexibly storing or transmitting the trace information. The trace system includes a FIFO which is memory-mapped and is capable of being accessed without affecting processor performance. In one aspect, the trace system includes a trace buffer which receives trace information at an internal clock speed of the processor. In another embodiment, a compression protocol is provided for compressing trace messages on-chip prior to transmitting the messages to an external system or storing the messages in memory.