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Chapter 2 : 8051 Microcontroller Architecture
2.1 What is 8051 Standard?
Microcontroller manufacturers have been competing for a long time for attracting choosy customers and every couple of days a new chip with a higher operating frequency, more memory and upgraded A/D converters appeared on the market.
However, most of them had the same or at least very similar architecture known in the world of microcontrollers as “8051 compatible”. What is all this about?
The whole story has its beginnings in the far 80s when Intel launched the first series of microcontrollers called the MCS 051. Even though these microcontrollers had quite modest features in comparison to the new ones, they conquered the world very soon and became a standard for what nowadays is called the microcontroller.
The main reason for their great success and popularity is a skillfully chosen configuration which satisfies different needs of a large number of users allowing at the same time constant expansions (refers to the new types of microcontrollers). Besides, the software has been developed in great extend in the meantime, and it simply was not profitable to change anything in the microcontroller’s basic core. This is the reason for having a great number of various microcontrollers which basically are solely upgraded versions of the 8051 family. What makes this microcontroller so special and universal so that almost all manufacturers all over the world manufacture it today under different name?
As seen in figure above, the 8051 microcontroller has nothing impressive in appearance:
- 4 Kb of ROM is not much at all.
- 128b of RAM (including SFRs) satisfies the user's basic needs.
- 4 ports having in total of 32 input/output lines are in most cases sufficient to make all necessary connections to peripheral environment.
The whole configuration is obviously thought of as to satisfy the needs of most programmers working on development of automation devices. One of its advantages is that nothing is missing and nothing is too much. In other words, it is created exactly in accordance to the average user‘s taste and needs. Another advantages are RAM organization, the operation of Central Processor Unit (CPU) and ports which completely use all recourses and enable further upgrade.
2.2 Pinout Description
Each of these pins can be configured as an input or an output.
A logic one on this pin disables the microcontroller and clears the contents of most registers. In other words, the positive voltage on this pin resets the microcontroller. By applying logic zero to this pin, the program starts execution from the beginning.
Similar to port 1, each of these pins can serve as general input or output. Besides, all of them have alternative functions:
Serial asynchronous communication input or Serial synchronous communication output.
Serial asynchronous communication output or Serial synchronous communication clock output.
Interrupt 0 input.
Interrupt 1 input.
Counter 0 clock input.
Counter 1 clock input.
Write to external (additional) RAM.
Read from external RAM.
Internal oscillator input and output. A quartz crystal which specifies operating frequency is usually connected to these pins. Instead of it, miniature ceramics resonators can also be used for frequency stability. Later versions of microcontrollers operate at a frequency of 0 Hz up to over 50 Hz.
If there is no intention to use external memory then these port pins are configured as general inputs/outputs. In case external memory is used, the higher address byte, i.e. addresses A8-A15 will appear on this port. Even though memory with capacity of 64Kb is not used, which means that not all eight port bits are used for its addressing, the rest of them are not available as inputs/outputs.
If external ROM is used for storing program then a logic zero (0) appears on it every time the microcontroller reads a byte from memory.
Prior to reading from external memory, the microcontroller puts the lower address byte (A0-A7) on P0 and activates the ALE output. After receiving signal from the ALE pin, the external register (usually 74HCT373 or 74HCT375 add-on chip) memorizes the state of P0 and uses it as a memory chip address. Immediately after that, the ALU pin is returned its previous logic state and P0 is now used as a Data Bus. As seen, port data multiplexing is performed by means of only one additional (and cheap) integrated circuit. In other words, this port is used for both data and address transmission.
By applying logic zero to this pin, P2 and P3 are used for data and address transmission with no regard to whether there is internal memory or not. It means that even there is a program written to the microcontroller, it will not be executed. Instead, the program written to external ROM will be executed. By applying logic one to the EA pin, the microcontroller will use both memories, first internal then external (if exists).
Similar to P2, if external memory is not used, these pins can be used as general inputs/outputs. Otherwise, P0 is configured as address output (A0-A7) when the ALE pin is driven high (1) or as data output (Data Bus) when the ALE pin is driven low (0).
+5V power supply.
2.3 Input/Output Ports (I/O Ports)
All 8051 microcontrollers have 4 I/O ports each comprising 8 bits which can be configured as inputs or outputs. Accordingly, in total of 32 input/output pins enabling the microcontroller to be connected to peripheral devices are available for use.
Pin configuration, i.e. whether it is to be configured as an input (1) or an output (0), depends on its logic state. In order to configure a microcontroller pin as an output, it is necessary to apply a logic zero (0) to appropriate I/O port bit. In this case, voltage level on appropriate pin will be 0.
Similarly, in order to configure a microcontroller pin as an input, it is necessary to apply a logic one (1) to appropriate port. In this case, voltage level on appropriate pin will be 5V (as is the case with any TTL input). This may seem confusing but don't loose your patience. It all becomes clear after studying simple electronic circuits connected to an I/O pin.
Input/Output (I/O) pin
Figure above illustrates a simplified schematic of all circuits within the microcontroler connected to one of its pins. It refers to all the pins except those of the P0 port which do not have pull-up resistors built-in.
A logic zero (0) is applied to a bit of the P register. The output FE transistor is turned on, thus connecting the appropriate pin to ground.
A logic one (1) is applied to a bit of the P register. The output FE transistor is turned off and the appropriate pin remains connected to the power supply voltage over a pull-up resistor of high resistance.
The P0 port is characterized by two functions. If external memory is used then the lower address byte (addresses A0-A7) is applied on it. Otherwise, all bits of this port are configured as inputs/outputs.
The other function is expressed when it is configured as an output. Unlike other ports consisting of pins with built-in pull-up resistor connected by its end to 5 V power supply, pins of this port have this resistor left out. This apparently small difference has its consequences:
If any pin of this port is configured as an input then it acts as if it “floats”. Such an input has unlimited input resistance and indetermined potential.
When the pin is configured as an output, it acts as an “open drain”. By applying logic 0 to a port bit, the appropriate pin will be connected to ground (0V). By applying logic 1, the external output will keep on “floating”. In order to apply logic 1 (5V) on this output pin, it is necessary to built in an external pull-up resistor.
P1 is a true I/O port, because it doesn't have any alternative functions as is the case with P0, but can be cofigured as general I/O only. It has a pull-up resistor built-in and is completely compatible with TTL circuits.
P2 acts similarly to P0 when external memory is used. Pins of this port occupy addresses intended for external memory chip. This time it is about the higher address byte with addresses A8-A15. When no memory is added, this port can be used as a general input/output port showing features similar to P1.
All port pins can be used as general I/O, but they also have an alternative function. In order to use these alternative functions, a logic one (1) must be applied to appropriate bit of the P3 register. In tems of hardware, this port is similar to P0, with the difference that its pins have a pull-up resistor built-in.
Pin's Current limitations
When configured as outputs (logic zero (0)), single port pins can receive a current of 10mA. If all 8 bits of a port are active, a total current must be limited to 15mA (port P0: 26mA). If all ports (32 bits) are active, total maximum current must be limited to 71mA. When these pins are configured as inputs (logic 1), built-in pull-up resistors provide very weak current, but strong enough to activate up to 4 TTL inputs of LS series.
2.4 Memory Organization
The 8051 has two types of memory and these are Program Memory and Data Memory. Program Memory (ROM) is used to permanently save the program being executed, while Data Memory (RAM) is used for temporarily storing data and intermediate results created and used during the operation of the microcontroller. Depending on the model in use (we are still talking about the 8051 microcontroller family in general) at most a few Kb of ROM and 128 or 256 bytes of RAM is used. However…
All 8051 microcontrollers have a 16-bit addressing bus and are capable of addressing 64 kb memory. It is neither a mistake nor a big ambition of engineers who were working on basic core development. It is a matter of smart memory organization which makes these microcontrollers a real “programmers’ goody“.
The first models of the 8051 microcontroller family did not have internal program memory. It was added as an external separate chip. These models are recognizable by their label beginning with 803 (for example 8031 or 8032). All later models have a few Kbyte ROM embedded. Even though such an amount of memory is sufficient for writing most of the programs, there are situations when it is necessary to use additional memory as well. A typical example are so called lookup tables. They are used in cases when equations describing some processes are too complicated or when there is no time for solving them. In such cases all necessary estimates and approximates are executed in advance and the final results are put in the tables (similar to logarithmic tables).
How does the microcontroller handle external memory depends on the EA pin logic state:
EA=0 In this case, the microcontroller completely ignores internal program memory and executes only the program stored in external memory.
EA=1 In this case, the microcontroller executes first the program from built-in ROM, then the program stored in external memory.
In both cases, P0 and P2 are not available for use since being used for data and address transmission. Besides, the ALE and PSEN pins are also used.
As already mentioned, Data Memory is used for temporarily storing data and intermediate results created and used during the operation of the microcontroller. Besides, RAM memory built in the 8051 family includes many registers such as hardware counters and timers, input/output ports, serial data buffers etc. The previous models had 256 RAM locations, while for the later models this number was incremented by additional 128 registers. However, the first 256 memory locations (addresses 0-FFh) are the heart of memory common to all the models belonging to the 8051 family. Locations available to the user occupy memory space with addresses 0-7Fh, i.e. first 128 registers. This part of RAM is divided in several blocks.
The first block consists of 4 banks each including 8 registers denoted by R0-R7. Prior to accessing any of these registers, it is necessary to select the bank containing it. The next memory block (address 20h-2Fh) is bit- addressable, which means that each bit has its own address (0-7Fh). Since there are 16 such registers, this block contains in total of 128 bits with separate addresses (address of bit 0 of the 20h byte is 0, while address of bit 7 of the 2Fh byte is 7Fh). The third group of registers occupy addresses 2Fh-7Fh, i.e. 80 locations, and does not have any special functions or features.
In order to satisfy the programmers’ constant hunger for Data Memory, the manufacturers decided to embed an additional memory block of 128 locations into the latest versions of the 8051 microcontrollers. However, it’s not as simple as it seems to be… The problem is that electronics performing addressing has 1 byte (8 bits) on disposal and is capable of reaching only the first 256 locations, therefore. In order to keep already existing 8-bit architecture and compatibility with other existing models a small trick was done.
What does it mean? It means that additional memory block shares the same addresses with locations intended for the SFRs (80h- FFh). In order to differentiate between these two physically separated memory spaces, different ways of addressing are used. The SFRs memory locations are accessed by direct addressing, while additional RAM memory locations are accessed by indirect addressing.
In case memory (RAM or ROM) built in the microcontroller is not sufficient, it is possible to add two external memory chips with capacity of 64Kb each. P2 and P3 I/O ports are used for their addressing and data transmission.
From the user’s point of view, everything works quite simply when properly connected because most operations are performed by the microcontroller itself. The 8051 microcontroller has two pins for data read RD#(P3.7) and PSEN#. The first one is used for reading data from external data memory (RAM), while the other is used for reading data from external program memory (ROM). Both pins are active low. A typical example of memory expansion by adding RAM and ROM chips (Hardward architecture), is shown in figure above.
Even though additional memory is rarely used with the latest versions of the microcontrollers, we will describe in short what happens when memory chips are connected according to the previous schematic. The whole process described below is performed automatically.
- When the program during execution encounters an instruction which resides in external memory (ROM), the microcontroller will activate its control output ALE and set the first 8 bits of address (A0-A7) on P0. IC circuit 74HCT573 passes the first 8 bits to memory address pins.
- A signal on the ALE pin latches the IC circuit 74HCT573 and immediately afterwards 8 higher bits of address (A8-A15) appear on the port. In this way, a desired location of additional program memory is addressed. It is left over to read its content.
- Port P0 pins are configured as inputs, the PSEN pin is activated and the microcontroller reads from memory chip.
Similar occurs when it is necessary to read location from external RAM. Addressing is performed in the same way, while read and write are performed via signals appearing on the control outputs RD (is short for read) or WR (is short for write).
While operating, the processor processes data as per program instructions. Each instruction consists of two parts. One part describes WHAT should be done, while the other explains HOW to do it. The latter part can be a data (binary number) or the address at which the data is stored. Two ways of addressing are used for all 8051 microcontrollers depending on which part of memory should be accessed:
On direct addressing, the address of memory location containing data to be read is specified in instruction. The address may contain a number being changed during operation (variable). For example:
Since the address is only one byte in size (the largest number is 255), only the first 255 locations of RAM can be accessed this way. The first half of RAM is available for use, while another half is reserved for SFRs.MOV A,33h; Means: move a number from address 33 hex. to accumulator
On indirect addressing, a register containing the address of another register is specified in instruction. Data to be used in the program is stored in the letter register. For example:
Indirect addressing is only used for accessing RAM locations available for use (never for accessing SFRs). This is the only way of accessing all the latest versions of the microcontrollers with additional memory block (128 locations of RAM). Simply put, when the program encounters instruction including “@” sign and if the specified address is higher than 128 ( 7F hex.), the processor knows that indirect addressing is used and skips memory space reserved for SFRs.MOV A,@R0; Means: Store the value from the register whose address is in the R0 register into accumulator
On indirect addressing, registers R0, R1 or Stack Pointer are used for specifying 8-bit addresses. Since only 8 bits are avilable, it is possible to access only registers of internal RAM this way (128 locations when speaking of previous models or 256 locations when speaking of latest models of microcontrollers). If an extra memory chip is added then the 16-bit DPTR Register (consisting of the registers DPTRL and DPTRH) is used for specifying address. In this way it is possible to access any location in the range of 64K.
2.5 Special Function Registers (SFRs)
Special Function Registers (SFRs) are a sort of control table used for running and monitoring the operation of the microcontroller. Each of these registers as well as each bit they include, has its name, address in the scope of RAM and precisely defined purpose such as timer control, interrupt control, serial communication control etc. Even though there are 128 memory locations intended to be occupied by them, the basic core, shared by all types of 8051 microcontrollers, has only 21 such registers. Rest of locations are intensionally left unoccupied in order to enable the manufacturers to further develop microcontrollers keeping them compatible with the previous versions. It also enables programs written a long time ago for microcontrollers which are out of production now to be used today.
A Register (Accumulator)
A register is a general-purpose register used for storing intermediate results obtained during operation. Prior to executing an instruction upon any number or operand it is necessary to store it in the accumulator first. All results obtained from arithmetical operations performed by the ALU are stored in the accumulator. Data to be moved from one register to another must go through the accumulator. In other words, the A register is the most commonly used register and it is impossible to imagine a microcontroller without it. More than half instructions used by the 8051 microcontroller use somehow the accumulator.
Multiplication and division can be performed only upon numbers stored in the A and B registers. All other instructions in the program can use this register as a spare accumulator (A).
R Registers (R0-R7)
This is a common name for 8 general-purpose registers (R0, R1, R2 ...R7). Even though they are not true SFRs, they deserve to be discussed here because of their purpose. They occupy 4 banks within RAM. Similar to the accumulator, they are used for temporary storing variables and intermediate results during operation. Which one of these banks is to be active depends on two bits of the PSW Register. Active bank is a bank the registers of which are currently used.
The following example best illustrates the purpose of these registers. Suppose it is necessary to perform some arithmetical operations upon numbers previously stored in the R registers: (R1+R2) - (R3+R4). Obviously, a register for temporary storing results of addition is needed. This is how it looks in the program:MOV A,R3; Means: move number from R3 into accumulatorADD A,R4; Means: add number from R4 to accumulator (result remains in accumulator)MOV R5,A; Means: temporarily move the result from accumulator into R5MOV A,R1; Means: move number from R1 to accumulatorADD A,R2; Means: add number from R2 to accumulatorSUBB A,R5; Means: subtract number from R5 (there are R3+R4)
Program Status Word (PSW) Register
PSW register is one of the most important SFRs. It contains several status bits that reflect the current state of the CPU. Besides, this register contains Carry bit, Auxiliary Carry, two register bank select bits, Overflow flag, parity bit and user-definable status flag.
P - Parity bit. If a number stored in the accumulator is even then this bit will be automatically set (1), otherwise it will be cleared (0). It is mainly used during data transmit and receive via serial communication.
- Bit 1. This bit is intended to be used in the future versions of microcontrollers.
OV Overflow occurs when the result of an arithmetical operation is larger than 255 and cannot be stored in one register. Overflow condition causes the OV bit to be set (1). Otherwise, it will be cleared (0).
RS0, RS1 - Register bank select bits. These two bits are used to select one of four register banks of RAM. By setting and clearing these bits, registers R0-R7 are stored in one of four banks of RAM.
RS1 RS2 SPACE IN RAM 0 0 Bank0 00h-07h 0 1 Bank1 08h-0Fh 1 0 Bank2 10h-17h 1 1
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