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Monday, November 8, 2010

Interfacing LED's



    The first thing usually done while learning any microcontroller or embedded system is blinking an LED. The circuit below shows the circuit for Interfacing an LED.

 Here an LED is connected to the first pin of port0 (P0.0). The assembly program given below is simple and self explanatory.
;*************************************************
;
;Program: Blinking LED.
;Author: Mahesh
;Description: Blinks an LED connected to P0.0
;continuously
;
;*************************************************

led equ P0.0

org 00h
up:  setb led        ;Turn ON the LED
     acall delay     ;call delay subroutine
     clr led         ;Turn OFF the LED
     acall delay     ;call delay subroutine
     sjmp up         ;Loop
 
delay:mov r7,#0ffh   ;delay subroutine
loop:mov r6,#0ffh
     djnz r6,$    
     djnz r7,loop
     ret

end

Interfacing Relays with 8051



    Relays allow us to control the high power circuits or instruments using low power circuits and voltage levels such as output of microcontrollers. Interfacing relays to 8051 or any other microcontroller is just simple as controlling a LED.
    A relay consists of a coil which is driven by low power circuits such as microcontrollers in order to control high power ac circuits through output switches. Normally there are two types of switches in a relay, they are Normally Open (NO) and Normally Closed (NC) contacts. 'NO' contacts are open when relay is not activated where as the 'NC' contacts are closed, when relay is activated by supplying power to the input coil, the 'NO' contacts are now closed and the 'NC' contacts are open.

The circuit diagram for interfacing relay to a 8051 microcontroller is shown below.
The assembly program for interfacing relay is given below.
;*************************************************
;
;Program: Interfacing relay
;Author: Mahesh
;Description: Relay turns ON when the switch
;connected to P1.0 and turns OFF when pressed
;again
;
;*************************************************

relay equ P0.0
sw equ P1.0

;*************************************************
org 0000h

Main:clr relay        ;Configure inp and outp       
     setb sw
up:  jnb sw,on        ;wait for switch to be pressed
     clr relay
     acall delay
     sjmp up
on:  setb relay       ;Turn ON relay
     acall delay
     acall delay
here:jb sw,here       ;wait for switch to be released
     clr relay        Turn OFF relay
     acall delay
     acall delay
     sjmp up          ;Loop

;*************************************************
delay:mov r7,#0ffh    ;delay subroutine
again:mov r6,#0ffh
     djnz r6,$
     djnz r7,again
     ret

;*************************************************
end 

Interfacing 7 segment

  
  Seven segment display is a basic type of display which can display numbers from 0 to 9. The circuit for interfacing single 7 segment display is shown below.
    Driving a 7 segment display is as simple as flashing LEDs, but here we are flashing 7+1 LEDs. The 7 segment display module has 8 LEDs (7 segments to display number and one segment for decimal point or dot) arranged in a particular manner as shown in image below.
 
    By driving (in the sense controlling ON and OFF conditions) these LEDs in various combinations, we can display the numbers 0 to 9. There are basically two types of 7 segment displays, they are common cathode and common anode. In common cathode, the cathodes of all the LED segments are connected together, we should apply a logic 1 or high input to a segment pin to light up that particular segment, and in common cathode the case is opposite. Table below shows the combinations of inputs to be applied to 7 segment display for digits 0 to 9.

For common cathode displays
Digitbinary input valuehexadecimal input value
011111100FC
10110000060
211011010DA
311110010F2
40110011066
510110110B6
610111110BE
711100000E0
811111110FE
911110110F6
For common anode displays
Digitbinary input valuehexadecimal input value
00000001103
1100111119F
20010010125
3000011010D
41001100199
50100100149
60100000141
7000111111F
80000000101
90000100109
 
The images shown below are the photographs of 7 segment add-on board for my microcontroller board, I have included one 7 segment in the current version of my development board, so if you are using that circuit then you don't need an external 7 segment display board. Click on the image to enlarge.
 

The assembly language source code for interfacing 7 segment display is given below.
;*************************************************
;
;Program: Driving seven segment display
;Author: Mahesh
;Description: Displays numbers 0 to 9 on
;the LED seven segment display continuously
;
;*************************************************

;Declarations
port equ P0

;*************************************************

;Main program
org 0000h
     ljmp main
org 30h
 
main:mov r0,#08h
     mov a,#00000001b      ;test all segments of disp
up:  rr a
     mov port,a
     acall delay
     djnz r0,up

again:mov port,#11111100b  ;'0'
     acall delay
     mov port,#01100000b   ;'1'
     acall delay
     mov port,#11011010b   ;'2'
     acall delay
     mov port,#11110010b   ;'3'
     acall delay
     mov port,#01100110b   ;'4'
     acall delay
     mov port,#10110110b   ;'5'
     acall delay
     mov port,#10111110b   ;'6'
     acall delay
     mov port,#11100000b   ;'7'
     acall delay
     mov port,#11111110b   ;'8'
     acall delay
     mov port,#11110110b   ;'9'
     acall delay
     sjmp again

;*************************************************

delay:mov r2,#0ffh         ;delay subroutine
up3: mov r4,#03fh
up2: mov r3,#0fh
up1: djnz r3,up1
     djnz r4,up2
     djnz r2,up3
     ret

;*************************************************

end

Sunday, November 7, 2010

8051 tutorial

Types of Memory
The 8051 has three very general types of memory. To effectively program the 8051 it is necessary to have a basic understanding of these memory types.
The memory types are illustrated in the following graphic. They are: On-Chip Memory, External Code Memory, and External RAM.




On-Chip Memory refers to any memory (Code, RAM, or other) that physically exists on the microcontroller itself. On-chip memory can be of several types, but we'll get into that shortly.
External Code Memory is code (or program) memory that resides off-chip. This is often in the form of an external EPROM.
External RAM is RAM memory that resides off-chip. This is often in the form of standard static RAM or flash RAM.

Code Memory
Code memory is the memory that holds the actual 8051 program that is to be run.This memory is limited to 64K.

External RAM
While Internal RAM is limited to 128 bytes (256 bytes with an 8052), the 8051 supports External RAM up to 64K.  For example, to increment an Internal RAM location by 1 requires only 1 instruction and 1 instruction cycle. To increment a 1-byte value stored in External RAM requires 4 instructions and 7 instruction cycles.

On-Chip Memory
On-chip memory is really one of two types: Internal RAM and Special Function Register (SFR) memory. The layout of the 8051's internal memory is presented in the following memory map:
As is illustrated in this map, the 8051 has a bank of 128 bytes of Internal RAM. This Internal RAM is found on-chip on the 8051 so it is the fastest RAM available, and it is also the most flexible in terms of reading, writing, and modifying its contents. Internal RAM is volatile, so when the 8051 is reset this memory is cleared.
The 128 bytes of internal ram is subdivided as shown on the memory map. The first 8 bytes (00h - 07h) are "register bank 0". By manipulating certain SFRs, a program may choose to use register banks 1, 2, or 3. These alternative register banks are located in internal RAM in addresses 08h through 1Fh. 
Bit Memory also lives and is part of internal RAM. We'll talk more about bit memory very shortly, but for now just keep in mind that bit memory actually resides in internal RAM, from addresses 20h through 2Fh.
The 80 bytes remaining of Internal RAM, from addresses 30h through 7Fh, may be used by user variables that need to be accessed frequently or at high-speed. This area is also utilized by the microcontroller as a storage area for the operating stack. This fact severely limits the 8051s stack since, as illustrated in the memory map, the area reserved for the stack is only 80 bytes--and usually it is less since this 80 bytes has to be shared between the stack and user variables.

Register Banks

The 8051 uses 8 "R" registers which are used in many of its instructions. These "R" registers are numbered from 0 through 7 (R0, R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R6, and R7). These registers are generally used to assist in manipulating values and moving data from one memory location to another. For example, to add the value of R4 to the Accumulator, we would execute the following instruction:


    ADD A,R4
    Thus if the Accumulator (A) contained the value 6 and R4 contained the value 3, the Accumulator would contain the value 9 after this instruction was executed.
    However, as the memory map shows, the "R" Register R4 is really part of Internal RAM. Specifically, R4 is address 04h. 
    ADD A,04h
    This instruction adds the value found in Internal RAM address 04h to the value of the Accumulator, leaving the result in the Accumulator.
    But watch out! As the memory map shows, the 8051 has four distinct register banks. When the 8051 is first booted up, register bank 0 (addresses 00h through 07h) is used by default. However, your program may instruct the 8051 to use one of the alternate register banks; i.e., register banks 1, 2, or 3. In this case, R4 will no longer be the same as Internal RAM address 04h. For example, if your program instructs the 8051 to use register bank 3, "R" register R4 will now be synonomous with Internal RAM address 1Ch.
    The concept of register banks adds a great level of flexibility to the 8051, especially when dealing with interrupts .Always remember that the register banks really reside in the first 32 bytes of Internal RAM.
    Programming Tip: If you only use the first register bank (i.e. bank 0), you may use Internal RAM locations 08h through 1Fh for your own use. But if you plan to use register banks 1, 2, or 3, be very careful about using addresses below 20h as you may end up overwriting the value of your "R" registers!
    Bit Memory
    The 8051, being a communications-oriented microcontroller, gives the user the ability to access a number of bit variables. These variables may be either 1 or 0.
    There are 128 bit variables available to the user, numberd 00h through 7Fh. The user may make use of these variables with commands such as SETB and CLR. For example, to set bit number 24 (hex) to 1 you would execute the instruction:
      SETB 24h
    It is important to note that Bit Memory is really a part of Internal RAM. In fact, the 128 bit variables occupy the 16 bytes of Internal RAM from 20h through 2Fh. Thus, if you write the value FFh to Internal RAM address 20h youve effectively set bits 00h through 07h. That is to say that:
      MOV 20h,#0FFhis equivalent to: SETB 00h SETB 01h SETB 02h SETB 03h SETB 04h SETB 05h SETB 06h SETB 07h
    As illustrated above, bit memory isnt really a new type of memory. Its really just a subset of Internal RAM. But since the 8051 provides special instructions to access these 16 bytes of memory on a bit by bit basis it is useful to think of it as a separate type of memory. However, always keep in mind that it is just a subset of Internal RAM--and that operations performed on Internal RAM can change the values of the bit variables.
    Programming Tip: If your program does not use bit variables, you may use Internal RAM locations 20h through 2Fh for your own use. But if you plan to use bit variables, be very careful about using addresses from 20h through 2Fh as you may end up overwriting the value of your bits!
    Bit variables 00h through 7Fh are for user-defined functions in their programs. However, bit variables 80h and above are actually used to access certain SFRs on a bit-by-bit basis. For example, if output lines P0.0 through P0.7 are all clear (0) and you want to turn on the P0.0 output line you may either execute:
      MOV P0,#01hor you may execute: SETB 80h
    Both these instructions accomplish the same thing. However, using the SETB command will turn on the P0.0 line without effecting the status of any of the other P0 output lines. The MOV command effectively turns off all the other output lines which, in some cases, may not be acceptable.
    Programming Tip: By default, the 8051 initializes the Stack Pointer (SP) to 07h when the microcontroller is booted. This means that the stack will start at address 08h and expand upwards. If you will be using the alternate register banks (banks 1, 2 or 3) you must initialize the stack pointer to an address above the highest register bank you will be using, otherwise the stack will overwrite your alternate register banks. Similarly, if you will be using bit variables it is usually a good idea to initialize the stack pointer to some value greater than 2Fh to guarantee that your bit variables are protected from the stack.
    Special Function Register (SFR) Memory
    Special Function Registers (SFRs) are areas of memory that control specific functionality of the 8051 processor. For example, four SFRs permit access to the 8051s 32 input/output lines. Another SFR allows a program to read or write to the 8051s serial port. Other SFRs allow the user to set the serial baud rate, control and access timers, and configure the 8051s interrupt system.
    When programming, SFRs have the illusion of being Internal Memory. For example, if you want to write the value "1" to Internal RAM location 50 hex you would execute the instruction:
      MOV 50h,#01h
    Similarly, if you want to write the value "1" to the 8051s serial port you would write this value to the SBUF SFR, which has an SFR address of 99 Hex. Thus, to write the value "1" to the serial port you would execute the instruction:
      MOV 99h,#01h
    As you can see, it appears that the SFR is part of Internal Memory. This is not the case. When using this method of memory access (its called direct address), any instruction that has an address of 00h through 7Fh refers to an Internal RAM memory address; any instruction with an address of 80h through FFh refers to an SFR control register.
    Programming Tip: SFRs are used to control the way the 8051 functions. Each SFR has a specific purpose and format which will be discussed later. Not all addresses above 80h are assigned to SFRs. However, this area may NOT be used as additional RAM memory even if a given address has not been assigned to an SFR.
    What Are SFRs?
    The 8051 is a flexible microcontroller with a relatively large number of modes of operations. Your program may inspect and/or change the operating mode of the 8051 by manipulating the values of the 8051's Special Function Registers (SFRs).
    SFRs are accessed as if they were normal Internal RAM. The only difference is that Internal RAM is from address 00h through 7Fh whereas SFR registers exist in the address range of 80h through FFh.
    Each SFR has an address (80h through FFh) and a name. The following chart provides a graphical presentation of the 8051's SFRs, their names, and their address.


As you can see, although the address range of 80h through FFh offer 128 possible addresses, there are only 21 SFRs in a standard 8051. All other addresses in the SFR range (80h through FFh) are considered invalid. Writing to or reading from these registers may produce undefined values or behavior.

Programming Tip: It is recommended that you not read or write to SFR addresses that have not been assigned to an SFR. Doing so may provoke undefined behavior and may cause your program to be incompatible with other 8051-derivatives that use the given SFR for some other purpose.

SFR Types



As mentioned in the chart itself, the SFRs that have a blue background are SFRs related to the I/O ports. The 8051 has four I/O ports of 8 bits, for a total of 32 I/O lines. Whether a given I/O line is high or low and the value read from the line are controlled by the SFRs in green.
The SFRs with yellow backgrouns are SFRs which in some way control the operation or the configuration of some aspect of the 8051. For example, TCON controls the timers, SCON controls the serial port.
The remaining SFRs, with green backgrounds, are "other SFRs." These SFRs can be thought of as auxillary SFRs in the sense that they don't directly configure the 8051 but obviously the 8051 cannot operate without them. For example, once the serial port has been configured using SCON, the program may read or write to the serial port using the SBUF register.
Programming Tip: The SFRs whose names appear in red in the chart above are SFRs that may be accessed via bit operations (i.e., using the SETB and CLR instructions). The other SFRs cannot be accessed using bit operations. As you can see, all SFRs that whose addresses are divisible by 8 can be accessed with bit operations.

SFR Descriptions
This section will endeavor to quickly overview each of the standard SFRs found in the above SFR chart map. It is not the intention of this section to fully explain the functionality of each SFR--this information will be covered in separate chapters of the tutorial. This section is to just give you a general idea of what each SFR does.

P0 (Port 0, Address 80h, Bit-Addressable): This is input/output port 0. Each bit of this SFR corresponds to one of the pins on the microcontroller. For example, bit 0 of port 0 is pin P0.0, bit 7 is pin P0.7. Writing a value of 1 to a bit of this SFR will send a high level on the corresponding I/O pin whereas a value of 0 will bring it to a low level.

Programming Tip: While the 8051 has four I/O port (P0, P1, P2, and P3), if your hardware uses external RAM or external code memory (i.e., your program is stored in an external ROM or EPROM chip or if you are using external RAM chips) you may not use P0 or P2. This is because the 8051 uses ports P0 and P2 to address the external memory. Thus if you are using external RAM or code memory you may only use ports P1 and P3 for your own use.








TCON (Timer Control, Addresses 88h, Bit-Addressable): The Timer Control SFR is used to configure and modify the way in which the 8051's two timers operate. This SFR controls whether each of the two timers is running or stopped and contains a flag to indicate that each timer has overflowed. Additionally, some non-timer related bits are located in the TCON SFR. These bits are used to configure the way in which the external interrupts are activated and also contain the external interrupt flags which are set when an external interrupt has occured.
TMOD (Timer Mode, Addresses 89h): The Timer Mode SFR is used to configure the mode of operation of each of the two timers. Using this SFR your program may configure each timer to be a 16-bit timer, an 8-bit autoreload timer, a 13-bit timer, or two separate timers. Additionally, you may configure the timers to only count when an external pin is activated or to count "events" that are indicated on an external pin.
TL0/TH0 (Timer 0 Low/High, Addresses 8Ah/8Ch): These two SFRs, taken together, represent timer 0. Their exact behavior depends on how the timer is configured in the TMOD SFR; however, these timers always count up. What is configurable is how and when they increment in value.
TL1/TH1 (Timer 1 Low/High, Addresses 8Bh/8Dh): These two SFRs, taken together, represent timer 1. Their exact behavior depends on how the timer is configured in the TMOD SFR; however, these timers always count up. What is configurable is how and when they increment in value.
P1 (Port 1, Address 90h, Bit-Addressable): This is input/output port 1. Each bit of this SFR corresponds to one of the pins on the microcontroller. For example, bit 0 of port 1 is pin P1.0, bit 7 is pin P1.7. Writing a value of 1 to a bit of this SFR will send a high level on the corresponding I/O pin whereas a value of 0 will bring it to a low level.
SCON (Serial Control, Addresses 98h, Bit-Addressable): The Serial Control SFR is used to configure the behavior of the 8051's on-board serial port. This SFR controls the baud rate of the serial port, whether the serial port is activated to receive data, and also contains flags that are set when a byte is successfully sent or received.

SBUF (Serial Control, Addresses 99h): The Serial Buffer SFR is used to send and receive data via the on-board serial port. Any value written to SBUF will be sent out the serial port's TXD pin. Likewise, any value which the 8051 receives via the serial port's RXD pin will be delivered to the user program via SBUF. In other words, SBUF serves as the output port when written to and as an input port when read from.P2 (Port 2, Address A0h, Bit-Addressable): This is input/output port 2. Each bit of this SFR corresponds to one of the pins on the microcontroller. For example, bit 0 of port 2 is pin P2.0, bit 7 is pin P2.7. Writing a value of 1 to a bit of this SFR will send a high level on the corresponding I/O pin whereas a value of 0 will bring it to a low level.

Programming Tip: While the 8051 has four I/O port (P0, P1, P2, and P3), if your hardware uses external RAM or external code memory (i.e., your program is stored in an external ROM or EPROM chip or if you are using external RAM chips) you may not use P0 or P2. This is because the 8051 uses ports P0 and P2 to address the external memory. Thus if you are using external RAM or code memory you may only use ports P1 and P3 for your own use.
IE (Interrupt Enable, Addresses A8h): The Interrupt Enable SFR is used to enable and disable specific interrupts. The low 7 bits of the SFR are used to enable/disable the specific interrupts, where as the highest bit is used to enable or disable ALL interrupts. Thus, if the high bit of IE is 0 all interrupts are disabled regardless of whether an individual interrupt is enabled by setting a lower bit.P3 (Port 3, Address B0h, Bit-Addressable): This is input/output port 3. Each bit of this SFR corresponds to one of the pins on the microcontroller. For example, bit 0 of port 3 is pin P3.0, bit 7 is pin P3.7. Writing a value of 1 to a bit of this SFR will send a high level on the corresponding I/O pin whereas a value of 0 will bring it to a low level.
IP (Interrupt Priority, Addresses B8h, Bit-Addressable): The Interrupt Priority SFR is used to specify the relative priority of each interrupt. On the 8051, an interrupt may either be of low (0) priority or high (1) priority. An interrupt may only interrupt interrupts of lower priority. For example, if we configure the 8051 so that all interrupts are of low priority except the serial interrupt, the serial interrupt will always be able to interrupt the system, even if another interrupt is currently executing. However, if a serial interrupt is executing no other interrupt will be able to interrupt the serial interrupt routine since the serial interrupt routine has the highest priority.
PSW (Program Status Word, Addresses D0h, Bit-Addressable): The Program Status Word is used to store a number of important bits that are set and cleared by 8051 instructions. The PSW SFR contains the carry flag, the auxiliary carry flag, the overflow flag, and the parity flag. Additionally, the PSW register contains the register bank select flags which are used to select which of the "R" register banks are currently selected.

Programming Tip: If you write an interrupt handler routine, it is a very good idea to always save the PSW SFR on the stack and restore it when your interrupt is complete. Many 8051 instructions modify the bits of PSW. If your interrupt routine does not guarantee that PSW is the same upon exit as it was upon entry, your program is bound to behave rather erradically and unpredictably--and it will be tricky to debug since the behavior will tend not to make any sense.
ACC (Accumulator, Addresses E0h, Bit-Addressable): The Accumulator is one of the most-used SFRs on the 8051 since it is involved in so many instructions. The Accumulator resides as an SFR at E0h, which means the instruction MOV A,#20h is really the same as MOV E0h,#20h. However, it is a good idea to use the first method since it only requires two bytes whereas the second option requires three bytes.B (B Register, Addresses F0h, Bit-Addressable): The "B" register is used in two instructions: the multiply and divide operations. The B register is also commonly used by programmers as an auxiliary register to temporarily store values.
Other SFRs
The chart above is a summary of all the SFRs that exist in a standard 8051. All derivative microcontrollers of the 8051 must support these basic SFRs in order to maintain compatability with the underlying MSCS51 standard.
A common practice when semiconductor firms wish to develop a new 8051 derivative is to add additional SFRs to support new functions that exist in the new chip. For example, the Dallas Semiconductor DS80C320 is upwards compatible with the 8051. This means that any program that runs on a standard 8051 should run without modification on the DS80C320. This means that all the SFRs defined above also apply to the Dallas component.
However, since the DS80C320 provides many new features that the standard 8051 does not, there must be some way to control and configure these new features. This is accomplished by adding additional SFRs to those listed here. For example, since the DS80C320 supports two serial ports (as opposed to just one on the 8051), the SFRs SBUF2 and SCON2 have been added. In addition to all the SFRs listed above, the DS80C320 also recognizes these two new SFRs as valid and uses their values to determine the mode of operation of the secondary serial port. Obviously, these new SFRs have been assigned to SFR addresses that were unused in the original 8051. In this manner, new 8051 derivative chips may be developed which will run existing 8051 programs.
Programming Tip: If you write a program that utilizes new SFRs that are specific to a given derivative chip and not included in the above SFR list, your program will not run properly on a standard 8051 where that SFR does not exist. Thus, only use non-standard SFRs if you are sure that your program wil only have to run on that specific microcontroller. Likewise, if you write code that uses non-standard SFRs and subsequently share it with a third-party, be sure to let that party know that your code is using non-standard SFRs to save them the headache of realizing that due to strange behavior at run-time.



Basic Registers

The Accumulator


If youve worked with any other assembly languages you will be familiar with the concept of an Accumulatorregister.
The Accumulator, as its name suggests, is used as a general register to accumulate the results of a large number of instructions. It can hold an 8-bit (1-byte) value and is the most versatile register the 8051 has due to the shear number of instructions that make use of the accumulator. More than half of the 8051s 255 instructions manipulate or use the accumulator in some way.
For example, if you want to add the number 10 and 20, the resulting 30 will be stored in the Accumulator. Once you have a value in the Accumulator you may continue processing the value or you may store it in another register or in memory.

The "R" registers
The "R" registers are a set of eight registers that are named R0, R1, etc. up to and including R7.
These registers are used as auxillary registers in many operations. To continue with the above example, perhaps you are adding 10 and 20. The original number 10 may be stored in the Accumulator whereas the value 20 may be stored in, say, register R4. To process the addition you would execute the command:

    ADD A,R4
After executing this instruction the Accumulator will contain the value 30.
You may think of the "R" registers as very important auxillary, or "helper", registers. The Accumulator alone would not be very useful if it were not for these "R" registers.
The "R" registers are also used to temporarily store values. For example, lets say you want to add the values in R1 and R2 together and then subtract the values of R3 and R4. One way to do this would be:

    MOV A,R3 ;Move the value of R3 into the accumulator ADD A,R4 ;Add the value of R4 MOV R5,A ;Store the resulting value temporarily in R5 MOV A,R1 ;Move the value of R1 into the accumulator ADD A,R2 ;Add the value of R2 SUBB A,R5 ;Subtract the value of R5 (which now contains R3 + R4)
As you can see, we used R5 to temporarily hold the sum of R3 and R4. Of course, this isnt the most efficient way to calculate (R1+R2) - (R3 +R4) but it does illustrate the use of the "R" registers as a way to store values temporarily.



The "B" Register

The "B" register is very similar to the Accumulator in the sense that it may hold an 8-bit (1-byte) value.
The "B" register is only used by two 8051 instructions: MUL AB and DIV AB. Thus, if you want to quickly and easily multiply or divide A by another number, you may store the other number in "B" and make use of these two instructions.
Aside from the MUL and DIV instructions, the "B" register is often used as yet another temporary storage register much like a ninth "R" register.

The Data Pointer (DPTR)

The Data Pointer (DPTR) is the 8051s only user-accessable 16-bit (2-byte) register. The Accumulator, "R" registers, and "B" register are all 1-byte values.
DPTR, as the name suggests, is used to point to data. It is used by a number of commands which allow the 8051 to access external memory. When the 8051 accesses external memory it will access external memory at the address indicated by DPTR.
While DPTR is most often used to point to data in external memory, many programmers often take advantge of the fact that its the only true 16-bit register available. It is often used to store 2-byte values which have nothing to do with memory locations.

The Program Counter (PC)

The Program Counter (PC) is a 2-byte address which tells the 8051 where the next instruction to execute is found in memory. When the 8051 is initialized PC always starts at 0000h and is incremented each time an instruction is executed. It is important to note that PC isnt always incremented by one. Since some instructions require 2 or 3 bytes the PC will be incremented by 2 or 3 in these cases.
The Program Counter is special in that there is no way to directly modify its value. That is to say, you cant do something like PC=2430h. On the other hand, if you execute LJMP 2430h youve effectively accomplished the same thing.

The Stack Pointer (SP
The Stack Pointer, like all registers except DPTR and PC, may hold an 8-bit (1-byte) value. The Stack Pointer is used to indicate where the next value to be removed from the stack should be taken from.
When you push a value onto the stack, the 8051 first increments the value of SP and then stores the value at the resulting memory location.
When you pop a value off the stack, the 8051 returns the value from the memory location indicated by SP, and then decrements the value of SP.
This order of operation is important. When the 8051 is initialized SP will be initialized to 07h. If you immediately push a value onto the stack, the value will be stored in Internal RAM address 08h. This makes sense taking into account what was mentioned two paragraphs above: First the 8051 will increment the value of SP (from 07h to 08h) and then will store the pushed value at that memory address (08h).
SP is modified directly by the 8051 by six instructions: PUSH, POP, ACALL, LCALL, RET, and RETI. It is also used intrinsically whenever an interrupt is triggered (more on interrupts later. Dont worry about them for now!).

Addressing Modes

An "addressing mode" refers to how you are addressing a given memory location. In summary, the addressing modes are as follows, with an example of each:
    Immediate AddressingMOV A,#20h
    Direct AddressingMOV A,30h
    Indirect AddressingMOV A,@R0
    External DirectMOVX A,@DPTR
    Code IndirectMOVC A,@A+DPTR
Each of these addressing modes provides important flexibility.

Immediate Addressing


Immediate addressing is so-named because the value to be stored in memory immediately follows the operation code in memory. That is to say, the instruction itself dictates what value will be stored in memory.
For example, the instruction:

    MOV A,#20h
This instruction uses Immediate Addressing because the Accumulator will be loaded with the value that immediately follows; in this case 20 (hexidecimal).
Immediate addressing is very fast since the value to be loaded is included in the instruction. However, since the value to be loaded is fixed at compile-time it is not very flexible.


Direct Addressing


Direct addressing is so-named because the value to be stored in memory is obtained by directly retrieving it from another memory location. For example:

    MOV A,30h
This instruction will read the data out of Internal RAM address 30 (hexidecimal) and store it in the Accumulator.
Direct addressing is generally fast since, although the value to be loaded isnt included in the instruction, it is quickly accessable since it is stored in the 8051s Internal RAM. It is also much more flexible than Immediate Addressing since the value to be loaded is whatever is found at the given address--which may be variable.
Also, it is important to note that when using direct addressing any instruction which refers to an address between 00h and 7Fh is referring to Internal Memory. Any instruction which refers to an address between 80h and FFh is referring to the SFR control registers that control the 8051 microcontroller itself.
The obvious question that may arise is, "If direct addressing an address from 80h through FFh refers to SFRs, how can I access the upper 128 bytes of Internal RAM that are available on the 8052?" The answer is: You cant access them using direct addressing. As stated, if you directly refer to an address of 80h through FFh you will be referring to an SFR. However, you may access the 8052s upper 128 bytes of RAM by using the next addressing mode, "indirect addressing."


Indirect Addressing


Indirect addressing is a very powerful addressing mode which in many cases provides an exceptional level of flexibility. Indirect addressing is also the only way to access the extra 128 bytes of Internal RAM found on an 8052.
Indirect addressing appears as follows:

    MOV A,@R0
This instruction causes the 8051 to analyze the value of the R0 register. The 8051 will then load the accumulator with the value from Internal RAM which is found at the address indicated by R0.
For example, lets say R0 holds the value 40h and Internal RAM address 40h holds the value 67h. When the above instruction is executed the 8051 will check the value of R0. Since R0 holds 40h the 8051 will get the value out of Internal RAM address 40h (which holds 67h) and store it in the Accumulator. Thus, the Accumulator ends up holding 67h.
Indirect addressing always refers to Internal RAM; it never refers to an SFR. Thus, in a prior example we mentioned that SFR 99h can be used to write a value to the serial port. Thus one may think that the following would be a valid solution to write the value 1 to the serial port:

    MOV R0,#99h ;Load the address of the serial port MOV @R0,#01h ;Send 01 to the serial port -- WRONG!!
This is not valid. Since indirect addressing always refers to Internal RAM these two instructions would write the value 01h to Internal RAM address 99h on an 8052. On an 8051 these two instructions would produce an undefined result since the 8051 only has 128 bytes of Internal RAM.


External Direct


External Memory is accessed using a suite of instructions which use what I call "External Direct" addressing. I call it this because it appears to be direct addressing, but it is used to access external memory rather than internal memory.
There are only two commands that use External Direct addressing mode:

    MOVX A,@DPTR MOVX @DPTR,A
As you can see, both commands utilize DPTR. In these instructions, DPTR must first be loaded with the address of external memory that you wish to read or write. Once DPTR holds the correct external memory address, the first command will move the contents of that external memory address into the Accumulator. The second command will do the opposite: it will allow you to write the value of the Accumulator to the external memory address pointed to by DPTR.


External Indirect


External memory can also be accessed using a form of indirect addressing which I call External Indirect addressing. This form of addressing is usually only used in relatively small projects that have a very small amount of external RAM. An example of this addressing mode is:

    MOVX @R0,A
Once again, the value of R0 is first read and the value of the Accumulator is written to that address in External RAM. Since the value of @R0 can only be 00h through FFh the project would effectively be limited to 256 bytes of External RAM. There are relatively simple hardware/software tricks that can be implemented to access more than 256 bytes of memory using External Indirect addressing; however, it is usually easier to use External Direct addressing if your project has more than 256 bytes of External RAM.





Program Flow

When an 8051 is first initialized, it resets the PC to 0000h. The 8051 then begins to execute instructions sequentially in memory unless a program instruction causes the PC to be otherwise altered. There are various instructions that can modify the value of the PC; specifically, conditional branching instructions, direct jumps and calls, and "returns" from subroutines. Additionally, interrupts, when enabled, can cause the program flow to deviate from its otherwise sequential scheme.

Conditional Branching


The 8051 contains a suite of instructions which, as a group, are referred to as "conditional branching" instructions. These instructions cause program execution to follow a non-sequential path if a certain condition is true.
Take, for example, the JB instruction. This instruction means "Jump if Bit Set." An example of the JB instruction might be:

    JB 45h,HELLO
    NOP
    HELLO:....
In this case, the 8051 will analyze the contents of bit 45h. If the bit is set program execution will jump immediately to the label HELLO, skipping the NOP instruction. If the bit is not set the conditional branch fails and program execution continues, as usual, with the NOP instruction which follows.
Conditional branching is really the fundamental building block of program logic since all "decisions" are accomplished by using conditional branching. Conditional branching can be thought of as the "IF...THEN" structure in 8051 assembly language.
An important note worth mentioning about conditional branching is that the program may only branch to instructions located withim 128 bytes prior to or 127 bytes following the address which follows the conditional branch instruction. This means that in the above example the label HELLO must be within +/- 128 bytes of the memory address which contains the conditional branching instruction.


Direct Jumps


While conditional branching is extremely important, it is often necessary to make a direct branch to a given memory location without basing it on a given logical decision. This is equivalent to saying "Goto" in BASIC. In this case you want the program flow to continue at a given memory address without considering any conditions.
This is accomplished in the 8051 using "Direct Jump and Call" instructions. As illustrated in the last paragraph, this suite of instructions causes program flow to change unconditionally.
Consider the example:

    LJMP NEW_ADDRESS
    .
    .
    .
    NEW_ADDRESS:....
The LJMP instruction in this example means "Long Jump." When the 8051 executes this instruction the PC is loaded with the address of NEW_ADDRESS and program execution continues sequentially from there.
The obvious difference between the Direct Jump and Call instructions and the conditional branching is that with Direct Jumps and Calls program flow always changes. With conditional branching program flow only changes if a certain condition is true.
It is worth mentioning that, aside from LJMP, there are two other instructions which cause a direct jump to occur: the SJMP and AJMP commands. Functionally, these two commands perform the exact same function as the LJMP command--that is to say, they always cause program flow to continue at the address indicated by the command. However, SJMP and AJMP differ in the following ways:

  • The SJMP command, like the conditional branching instructions, can only jump to an address within +/- 128 bytes of the SJMP command.
  • The AJMP command can only jump to an address that is in the same 2k block of memory as the AJMP command. That is to say, if the AJMP command is at code memory location 650h, it can only do a jump to addresses 0000h through 07FFh (0 through 2047, decimal).
You may be asking yourself, "Why would I want to use the SJMP or AJMP command which have restrictions as to how far they can jump if they do the same thing as the LJMP command which can jump anywhere in memory?" The answer is simple: The LJMP command requires three bytes of code memory whereas both the SJMP and AJMP commands require only two. Thus, if you are developing an application that has memory restrictions you can often save quite a bit of memory using the 2-byte AJMP/SJMP instructions instead of the 3-byte instruction.Recently, I wrote a program that required 2100 bytes of memory but I had a memory restriction of 2k (2048 bytes). I did a search/replace changing all LJMPs to AJMPs and the program shrunk downto 1950 bytes. Thus, without changing any logic whatsoever in my program I saved 150 bytes and was able to meet my 2048 byte memory restriction.
NOTE: Some quality assemblers will actually do the above conversion for you automatically. That is, they'll automatically change your LJMPs to SJMPs whenever possible. This is a nifty and very powerful capability that you may want to look for in an assembler if you plan to develop many projects that have relatively tight memory restrictions.

Direct Calls


Another operation that will be familiar to seasoned programmers is the LCALL instruction. This is similar to a "Gosub" command in Basic.
When the 8051 executes an LCALL instruction it immediately pushes the current Program Counter onto the stack and then continues executing code at the address indicated by the LCALL instruction.

Returns from Routines


Another structure that can cause program flow to change is the "Return from Subroutine" instruction, known as RET in 8051 Assembly Language.
The RET instruction, when executed, returns to the address following the instruction that called the given subroutine. More accurately, it returns to the address that is stored on the stack.
The RET command is direct in the sense that it always changes program flow without basing it on a condition, but is variable in the sense that where program flow continues can be different each time the RET instruction is executed depending on from where the subroutine was called originally.

Interrupts


An interrupt is a special feature which allows the 8051 to provide the illusion of "multi-tasking," although in reality the 8051 is only doing one thing at a time. The word "interrupt" can often be subsituted with the word "event."
An interrupt is triggered whenever a corresponding event occurs. When the event occurs, the 8051 temporarily puts "on hold" the normal execution of the program and executes a special section of code referred to as an interrupt handler. The interrupt handler performs whatever special functions are required to handle the event and then returns control to the 8051 at which point program execution continues as if it had never been interrupted.
The topic of interrupts is somewhat tricky and very important. For that reason, an entire chapter will be dedicated to the topic. For now, suffice it to say that Interrupts can cause program flow to change.


Instruction Set, Timing, and Low-Level Info

In order to understand--and better make use of--the 8051, it is necessary to understand some underlying information concerning timing.
The 8051 operates based on an external crystal. This is an electrical device which, when energy is applied, emits pulses at a fixed frequency. One can find crystals of virtually any frequency depending on the application requirements. When using an 8051, the most common crystal frequencies are 12 megahertz and 11.059 megahertz--with 11.059 being much more common. Why would anyone pick such an odd-ball frequency? Theres a real reason for it--it has to do with generating baud rates and well talk more about it in the Serial Communication chapter. For the remainder of this discussion well assume that were using an 11.059Mhz crystal.
Microcontrollers (and many other electrical systems) use crystals to syncrhronize operations. The 8051 uses the crystal for precisely that: to synchronize its operation. Effectively, the 8051 operates using what are called "machine cycles." A single machine cycle is the minimum amount of time in which a single 8051 instruction can be executed. although many instructions take multiple cycles.
A cycle is, in reality, 12 pulses of the crystal. That is to say, if an instruction takes one machine cycle to execute, it will take 12 pulses of the crystal to execute. Since we know the crystal is pulsing 11,059,000 times per second and that one machine cycle is 12 pulses, we can calculate how many instruction cycles the 8051 can execute per second:
    11,059,000 / 12 = 921,583
This means that the 8051 can execute 921,583 single-cycle instructions per second. Since a large number of 8051 instructions are single-cycle instructions it is often considered that the 8051 can execute roughly 1 million instructions per second, although in reality it is less--and, depending on the instructions being used, an estimate of about 600,000 instructions per second is more realistic.
For example, if you are using exclusively 2-cycle instructions you would find that the 8051 would execute 460,791 instructions per second. The 8051 also has two really slow instructions that require a full 4 cycles to execute--if you were to execute nothing but those instructions youd find performance to be about 230,395 instructions per second.
It is again important to emphasize that not all instructions execute in the same amount of time. The fastest instructions require one machine cycle (12 crystal pulses), many others require two machine cycles (24 crystal pulses), and the two very slow math operations require four machine cycles (48 crystal pulses).
NOTE: Many 8051 derivative chips change instruction timing. For example, many optimized versions of the 8051 execute instructions in 4 oscillator cycles instead of 12; such a chip would be effectively 3 times faster than the 8051 when used with the same 11.059 Mhz crystal.
Since all the instructions require different amounts of time to execute a very obvious question comes to mind: How can one keep track of time in a time-critical application if we have no reference to time in the outside world?
Luckily, the 8051 includes timers which allow us to time events with high precision--which is the topic of the next chapter.

Timers

The 8051 comes equipped with two timers, both of which may be controlled, set, read, and configured individually. The 8051 timers have three general functions: 1) Keeping time and/or calculating the amount of time between events, 2) Counting the events themselves, or 3) Generating baud rates for the serial port.
The three timer uses are distinct so we will talk about each of them separately. The first two uses will be discussed in this chapter while the use of timers for baud rate generation will be discussed in the chapter relating to serial ports.
How does a timer count?
How does a timer count? The answer to this question is very simple: A timer always counts up. It doesnt matter whether the timer is being used as a timer, a counter, or a baud rate generator: A timer is always incremented by the microcontroller.
Programming Tip: Some derivative chips actually allow the program to configure whether the timers count up or down. However, since this option only exists on some derivatives it is beyond the scope of this tutorial which is aimed at the standard 8051. It is only mentioned here in the event that you absolutely need a timer to count backwards, you will know that you may be able to find an 8051-compatible microcontroller that does it.
USING TIMERS TO MEASURE TIME
Obviously, one of the primary uses of timers is to measure time. We will discuss this use of timers first and will subsequently discuss the use of timers to count events. When a timer is used to measure time it is also called an "interval timer" since it is measuring the time of the interval between two events.
How long does a timer take to count?
First, its worth mentioning that when a timer is in interval timer mode (as opposed to event counter mode) and correctly configured, it will increment by 1 every machine cycle. As you will recall from the previous chapter, a single machine cycle consists of 12 crystal pulses. Thus a running timer will be incremented:
    11,059,000 / 12 = 921,583
921,583 times per second. Unlike instructions--some of which require 1 machine cycle, others 2, and others 4--the timers are consistent: They will always be incremented once per machine cycle. Thus if a timer has counted from 0 to 50,000 you may calculate:
    50,000 / 921,583 = .0542
.0542 seconds have passed. In plain English, about half of a tenth of a second, or one-twentieth of a second.
Obviously its not very useful to know .0542 seconds have passed. If you want to execute an event once per second youd have to wait for the timer to count from 0 to 50,000 18.45 times. How can you wait "half of a time?" You cant. So we come to another important calculation.
Lets say we want to know how many times the timer will be incremented in .05 seconds. We can do simple multiplication:
    .05 * 921,583 = 46,079.15.
This tells us that it will take .05 seconds (1/20th of a second) to count from 0 to 46,079. Actually, it will take it .049999837 seconds--so were off by .000000163 seconds--however, thats close enough for government work. Consider that if you were building a watch based on the 8051 and made the above assumption your watch would only gain about one second every 2 months. Again, I think thats accurate enough for most applications--I wish my watch only gained one second every two months!
Obviously, this is a little more useful. If you know it takes 1/20th of a second to count from 0 to 46,079 and you want to execute some event every second you simply wait for the timer to count from 0 to 46,079 twenty times; then you execute your event, reset the timers, and wait for the timer to count up another 20 times. In this manner you will effectively execute your event once per second, accurate to within thousandths of a second.
Thus, we now have a system with which to measure time. All we need to review is how to control the timers and initialize them to provide us with the information we need.
Timer SFRs
As mentioned before, the 8051 has two timers which each function essentially the same way. One timer is TIMER0 and the other is TIMER1. The two timers share two SFRs (TMOD and TCON) which control the timers, and each timer also has two SFRs dedicated solely to itself (TH0/TL0 and TH1/TL1).
Weve given SFRs names to make it easier to refer to them, but in reality an SFR has a numeric address. It is often useful to know the numeric address that corresponds to an SFR name. The SFRs relating to timers are:
SFR NameDescriptionSFR Address
TH0Timer 0 High Byte8Ch
TL0Timer 0 Low Byte8Ah
TH1Timer 1 High Byte8Dh
TL1Timer 1 Low Byte8Bh
TCONTimer Control88h
TMODTimer Mode89h
When you enter the name of an SFR into an assembler, it internally converts it to a number. For example, the command:
    MOV TH0,#25h
moves the value 25h into the TH0 SFR. However, since TH0 is the same as SFR address 8Ch this command is equivalent to:
    MOV 8Ch,#25h
Now, back to the timers. First, lets talk about Timer 0.
Timer 0 has two SFRs dedicated exclusively to itself: TH0 and TL0. Without making things too complicated to start off with, you may just think of this as the high and low byte of the timer. That is to say, when Timer 0 has a value of 0, both TH0 and TL0 will contain 0. When Timer 0 has the value 1000, TH0 will hold the high byte of the value (3 decimal) and TL0 will contain the low byte of the value (232 decimal). Reviewing low/high byte notation, recall that you must multiply the high byte by 256 and add the low byte to calculate the final value. That is to say:
    TH0 * 256 + TL0 = 1000 3 * 256 + 232 = 1000
Timer 1 works the exact same way, but its SFRs are TH1 and TL1.
Since there are only two bytes devoted to the value of each timer it is apparent that the maximum value a timer may have is 65,535. If a timer contains the value 65,535 and is subsequently incremented, it will reset--or overflow--back to 0.
The TMOD SFR
Lets first talk about our first control SFR: TMOD (Timer Mode). The TMOD SFR is used to control the mode of operation of both timers. Each bit of the SFR gives the microcontroller specific information concerning how to run a timer. The high four bits (bits 4 through 7) relate to Timer 1 whereas the low four bits (bits 0 through 3) perform the exact same functions, but for timer 0.
The individual bits of TMOD have the following functions:
    TMOD (89h) SFR
    BitNameExplanation of FunctionTimer
    7GATE1When this bit is set the timer will only run when INT1 (P3.3) is high. When this bit is clear the timer will run regardless of the state of INT1.1
    6C/T1When this bit is set the timer will count events on T1 (P3.5). When this bit is clear the timer will be incremented every machine cycle.1
    5T1M1Timer mode bit (see below)1
    4T1M0Timer mode bit (see below)1
    3GATE0When this bit is set the timer will only run when INT0 (P3.2) is high. When this bit is clear the timer will run regardless of the state of INT0.0
    2C/T0When this bit is set the timer will count events on T0 (P3.4). When this bit is clear the timer will be incremented every machine cycle.0
    1T0M1Timer mode bit (see below)0
    0T0M0Timer mode bit (see below)0
As you can see in the above chart, four bits (two for each timer) are used to specify a mode of operation. The modes of operation are:
TxM1TxM0Timer ModeDescription of Mode
00013-bit Timer.
01116-bit Timer
1028-bit auto-reload
113Split timer mode
13-bit Time Mode (mode 0)
Timer mode "0" is a 13-bit timer. This is a relic that was kept around in the 8051 to maintain compatability with its predecesor, the 8048. Generally the 13-bit timer mode is not used in new development.
When the timer is in 13-bit mode, TLx will count from 0 to 31. When TLx is incremented from 31, it will "reset" to 0 and increment THx. Thus, effectively, only 13 bits of the two timer bytes are being used: bits 0-4 of TLx and bits 0-7 of THx. This also means, in essence, the timer can only contain 8192 values. If you set a 13-bit timer to 0, it will overflow back to zero 8192 machine cycles later.
Again, there is very little reason to use this mode and it is only mentioned so you wont be surprised if you ever end up analyzing archaeic code which has been passed down through the generations (a generation in a programming shop is often on the order of about 3 or 4 months).
16-bit Time Mode (mode 1)
Timer mode "1" is a 16-bit timer. This is a very commonly used mode. It functions just like 13-bit mode except that all 16 bits are used.
TLx is incremented from 0 to 255. When TLx is incremented from 255, it resets to 0 and causes THx to be incremented by 1. Since this is a full 16-bit timer, the timer may contain up to 65536 distinct values. If you set a 16-bit timer to 0, it will overflow back to 0 after 65,536 machine cycles.
8-bit Time Mode (mode 2)
Timer mode "2" is an 8-bit auto-reload mode. What is that, you may ask? Simple. When a timer is in mode 2, THx holds the "reload value" and TLx is the timer itself. Thus, TLx starts counting up. When TLx reaches 255 and is subsequently incremented, instead of resetting to 0 (as in the case of modes 0 and 1), it will be reset to the value stored in THx.
For example, lets say TH0 holds the value FDh and TL0 holds the value FEh. If we were to watch the values of TH0 and TL0 for a few machine cycles this is what wed see:
    Machine CycleTH0 ValueTL0 Value
    1FDhFEh
    2FDhFFh
    3FDhFDh
    4FDhFEh
    5FDhFFh
    6FDhFDh
    7FDhFEh
As you can see, the value of TH0 never changed. In fact, when you use mode 2 you almost always set THx to a known value and TLx is the SFR that is constantly incremented.
Whats the benefit of auto-reload mode? Perhaps you want the timer to always have a value from 200 to 255. If you use mode 0 or 1, youd have to check in code to see if the timer had overflowed and, if so, reset the timer to 200. This takes precious instructions of execution time to check the value and/or to reload it. When you use mode 2 the microcontroller takes care of this for you. Once youve configured a timer in mode 2 you dont have to worry about checking to see if the timer has overflowed nor do you have to worry about resetting the value--the microcontroller hardware will do it all for you.
The auto-reload mode is very commonly used for establishing a baud rate which we will talk more about in the Serial Communications chapter.
Split Timer Mode (mode 3)
Timer mode "3" is a split-timer mode. When Timer 0 is placed in mode 3, it essentially becomes two separate 8-bit timers. That is to say, Timer 0 is TL0 and Timer 1 is TH0. Both timers count from 0 to 255 and overflow back to 0. All the bits that are related to Timer 1 will now be tied to TH0.
While Timer 0 is in split mode, the real Timer 1 (i.e. TH1 and TL1) can be put into modes 0, 1 or 2 normally--however, you may not start or stop the real timer 1 since the bits that do that are now linked to TH0. The real timer 1, in this case, will be incremented every machine cycle no matter what.
The only real use I can see of using split timer mode is if you need to have two separate timers and, additionally, a baud rate generator. In such case you can use the real Timer 1 as a baud rate generator and use TH0/TL0 as two separate timers.
The TCON SFR
Finally, theres one more SFR that controls the two timers and provides valuable information about them. The TCON SFR has the following structure:
    TCON (88h) SFR
    BitNameBit AddressExplanation of FunctionTimer
    7TF18FhTimer 1 Overflow. This bit is set by the microcontroller when Timer 1 overflows.1
    6TR18EhTimer 1 Run. When this bit is set Timer 1 is turned on. When this bit is clear Timer 1 is off.1
    5TF08DhTimer 0 Overflow. This bit is set by the microcontroller when Timer 0 overflows.0
    4TR08ChTimer 0 Run. When this bit is set Timer 0 is turned on. When this bit is clear Timer 0 is off.0
As you may notice, weve only defined 4 of the 8 bits. Thats because the other 4 bits of the SFR dont have anything to do with timers--they have to do with Interrupts and they will be discussed in the chapter that addresses interrupts.
A new piece of information in this chart is the column "bit address." This is because this SFR is "bit-addressable." What does this mean? It means if you want to set the bit TF1--which is the highest bit of TCON--you could execute the command:
    MOV TCON, #80h
... or, since the SFR is bit-addressable, you could just execute the command:
    SETB TF1
This has the benefit of setting the high bit of TCON without changing the value of any of the other bits of the SFR. Usually when you start or stop a timer you dont want to modify the other values in TCON, so you take advantage of the fact that the SFR is bit-addressable.
Initializing a Timer
Now that weve discussed the timer-related SFRs we are ready to write code that will initialize the timer and start it running.
As youll recall, we first must decide what mode we want the timer to be in. In this case we want a 16-bit timer that runs continuously; that is to say, it is not dependent on any external pins.
We must first initialize the TMOD SFR. Since we are working with timer 0 we will be using the lowest 4 bits of TMOD. The first two bits, GATE0 and C/T0 are both 0 since we want the timer to be independent of the external pins. 16-bit mode is timer mode 1 so we must clear T0M1 and set T0M0. Effectively, the only bit we want to turn on is bit 0 of TMOD. Thus to initialize the timer we execute the instruction:
    MOV TMOD,#01h
Timer 0 is now in 16-bit timer mode. However, the timer is not running. To start the timer running we must set the TR0 bit We can do that by executing the instruction:
    SETB TR0
Upon executing these two instructions timer 0 will immediately begin counting, being incremented once every machine cycle (every 12 crystal pulses).
Reading the Timer
There are two common ways of reading the value of a 16-bit timer; which you use depends on your specific application. You may either read the actual value of the timer as a 16-bit number, or you may simply detect when the timer has overflowed.
Reading the value of a Timer
If your timer is in an 8-bit mode--that is, either 8-bit AutoReload mode or in split timer mode--then reading the value of the timer is simple. You simply read the 1-byte value of the timer and youre done.
However, if youre dealing with a 13-bit or 16-bit timer the chore is a little more complicated. Consider what would happen if you read the low byte of the timer as 255, then read the high byte of the timer as 15. In this case, what actually happened was that the timer value was 14/255 (high byte 14, low byte 255) but you read 15/255. Why? Because you read the low byte as 255. But when you executed the next instruction a small amount of time passed--but enough for the timer to increment again at which time the value rolled over from 14/255 to 15/0. But in the process youve read the timer as being 15/255. Obviously theres a problem there.
The solution? Its not too tricky, really. You read the high byte of the timer, then read the low byte, then read the high byte again. If the high byte read the second time is not the same as the high byte read the first time you repeat the cycle. In code, this would appear as:
    REPEAT:MOV A,TH0
    MOV R0,TL0
    CJNE A,TH0,REPEAT
    ...
In this case, we load the accumulator with the high byte of Timer 0. We then load R0 with the low byte of Timer 0. Finally, we check to see if the high byte we read out of Timer 0--which is now stored in the Accumulator--is the same as the current Timer 0 high byte. If it isnt it means weve just "rolled over" and must reread the timers value--which we do by going back to REPEAT. When the loop exits we will have the low byte of the timer in R0 and the high byte in the Accumulator.
Another much simpler alternative is to simply turn off the timer run bit (i.e. CLR TR0), read the timer value, and then turn on the timer run bit (i.e. SETB TR0). In that case, the timer isnt running so no special tricks are necessary. Of course, this implies that your timer will be stopped for a few machine cycles. Whether or not this is tolerable depends on your specific application.
Detecting Timer Overflow
Often it is necessary to just know that the timer has reset to 0. That is to say, you are not particularly interest in the value of the timer but rather you are interested in knowing when the timer has overflowed back to 0.
Whenever a timer overflows from its highest value back to 0, the microcontroller automatically sets the TFx bit in the TCON register. This is useful since rather than checking the exact value of the timer you can just check if the TFx bit is set. If TF0 is set it means that timer 0 has overflowed; if TF1 is set it means that timer 1 has overflowed.
We can use this approach to cause the program to execute a fixed delay. As youll recall, we calculated earlier that it takes the 8051 1/20th of a second to count from 0 to 46,079. However, the TFx flag is set when the timer overflows back to 0. Thus, if we want to use the TFx flag to indicate when 1/20th of a second has passed we must set the timer initially to 65536 less 46079, or 19,457. If we set the timer to 19,457, 1/20th of a second later the timer will overflow. Thus we come up with the following code to execute a pause of 1/20th of a second:
    MOV TH0,#76;High byte of 19,457 (76 * 256 = 19,456) MOV TL0,#01;Low byte of 19,457 (19,456 + 1 = 19,457) MOV TMOD,#01;Put Timer 0 in 16-bit mode SETB TR0;Make Timer 0 start counting JNB TF0,$;If TF0 is not set, jump back to this same instruction
In the above code the first two lines initialize the Timer 0 starting value to 19,457. The next two instructions configure timer 0 and turn it on. Finally, the last instruction JNB TF0,$, reads "Jump, if TF0 is not set, back to this same instruction." The "$" operand means, in most assemblers, the address of the current instruction. Thus as long as the timer has not overflowed and the TF0 bit has not been set the program will keep executing this same instruction. After 1/20th of a second timer 0 will overflow, set the TF0 bit, and program execution will then break out of the loop.
Timing the length of events
The 8051 provides another cool toy that can be used to time the length of events.
For example, let's say we're trying to save electricity in the office and we're interested in how long a light is turned on each day. When the light is turned on, we want to measure time. When the light is turned off we don't. One option would be to connect the lightswitch to one of the pins, constantly read the pin, and turn the timer on or off based on the state of that pin. While this would work fine, the 8051 provides us with an easier method of accomplishing this.
Looking again at the TMOD SFR, there is a bit called GATE0. So far we've always cleared this bit because we wanted the timer to run regardless of the state of the external pins. However, now it would be nice if an external pin could control whether the timer was running or not. It can. All we need to do is connect the lightswitch to pin INT0 (P3.2) on the 8051 and set the bit GATE0. When GATE0 is set Timer 0 will only run if P3.2 is high. When P3.2 is low (i.e., the lightswitch is off) the timer will automatically be stopped.
Thus, with no control code whatsoever, the external pin P3.2 can control whether or not our timer is running or not.
USING TIMERS AS EVENT COUNTERS
We've discussed how a timer can be used for the obvious purpose of keeping track of time. However, the 8051 also allows us to use the timers to count events.
How can this be useful? Let's say you had a sensor placed across a road that would send a pulse every time a car passed over it. This could be used to determine the volume of traffic on the road. We could attach this sensor to one of the 8051's I/O lines and constantly monitor it, detecting when it pulsed high and then incrementing our counter when it went back to a low state. This is not terribly difficult, but requires some code. Let's say we hooked the sensor to P1.0; the code to count cars passing would look something like this:
    JNB P1.0,$;If a car hasn't raised the signal, keep waiting
    JB P1.0,$;The line is high which means the car is on the sensor right now
    INC COUNTER;The car has passed completely, so we count it
As you can see, it's only three lines of code. But what if you need to be doing other processing at the same time? You can't be stuck in the JNB P1.0,$ loop waiting for a car to pass if you need to be doing other things. Of course, there are ways to get around even this limitation but the code quickly becomes big, complex, and ugly.
Luckily, since the 8051 provides us with a way to use the timers to count events we don't have to bother with it. It is actually painfully easy. We only have to configure one additional bit.
Let's say we want to use Timer 0 to count the number of cars that pass. If you look back to the bit table for the TCON SFR you will there is a bit called "C/T0"--it's bit 2 (TCON.2). Reviewing the explanation of the bit we see that if the bit is clear then timer 0 will be incremented every machine cycle. This is what we've already used to measure time. However, if we set C/T0 timer 0 will monitor the P3.4 line. Instead of being incremented every machine cycle, timer 0 will count events on the P3.4 line. So in our case we simply connect our sensor to P3.4 and let the 8051 do the work. Then, when we want to know how many cars have passed, we just read the value of timer 0--the value of timer 0 will be the number of cars that have passed.
So what exactly is an event? What does timer 0 actually "count?" Speaking at the electrical level, the 8051 counts 1-0 transitions on the P3.4 line. This means that when a car first runs over our sensor it will raise the input to a high ("1") condition. At that point the 8051 will not count anything since this is a 0-1 transition. However, when the car has passed the sensor will fall back to a low ("0") state. This is a 1-0 transition and at that instant the counter will be incremented by 1.
It is important to note that the 8051 checks the P3.4 line each instruction cycle (12 clock cycles). This means that if P3.4 is low, goes high, and goes back low in 6 clock cycles it will probably not be detected by the 8051. This also means the 8051 event counter is only capable of counting events that occur at a maximum of 1/24th the rate of the crystal frequency. That is to say, if the crystal frequency is 12.000 Mhz it can count a maximum of 500,000 events per second (12.000 Mhz * 1/24 = 500,000). If the event being counted occurs more than 500,000 times per second it will not be able to be accurately counted by the 8051.

Serial Communication

One of the 8051s many powerful features is its integrated UART, otherwise known as a serial port. The fact that the 8051 has an integrated serial port means that you may very easily read and write values to the serial port. If it were not for the integrated serial port, writing a byte to a serial line would be a rather tedious process requring turning on and off one of the I/O lines in rapid succession to properly "clock out" each individual bit, including start bits, stop bits, and parity bits.
However, we do not have to do this. Instead, we simply need to configure the serial ports operation mode and baud rate. Once configured, all we have to do is write to an SFR to write a value to the serial port or read the same SFR to read a value from the serial port. The 8051 will automatically let us know when it has finished sending the character we wrote and will also let us know whenever it has received a byte so that we can process it. We do not have to worry about transmission at the bit level--which saves us quite a bit of coding and processing time.
Setting the Serial Port Mode
The first thing we must do when using the 8051s integrated serial port is, obviously, configure it. This lets us tell the 8051 how many data bits we want, the baud rate we will be using, and how the baud rate will be determined.
First, lets present the "Serial Control" (SCON) SFR and define what each bit of the SFR represents:
    BitNameBit AddresExplanation of Function
    7SM09FhSerial port mode bit 0
    6SM19EhSerial port mode bit 1.
    5SM29DhMutliprocessor Communications Enable (explained later)
    4REN9ChReceiver Enable. This bit must be set in order to receive characters.
    3TB89BhTransmit bit 8. The 9th bit to transmit in mode 2 and 3.
    2RB89AhReceive bit 8. The 9th bit received in mode 2 and 3.
    1TI99hTransmit Flag. Set when a byte has been completely transmitted.
    0RI98hReceive Flag. Set when a byte has been completely received.
Additionally, it is necessary to define the function of SM0 and SM1 by an additional table:
    SM0SM1Serial ModeExplanationBaud Rate
    0008-bit Shift RegisterOscillator / 12
    0118-bit UARTSet by Timer 1 (*)
    1029-bit UARTOscillator / 64 (*)
    1139-bit UARTSet by Timer 1 (*)
(*) Note: The baud rate indicated in this table is doubled if PCON.7 (SMOD) is set.
The SCON SFR allows us to configure the Serial Port. Thus, well go through each bit and review its function.
The first four bits (bits 4 through 7) are configuration bits.
Bits SM0 and SM1 let us set the serial mode to a value between 0 and 3, inclusive. The four modes are defined in the chart immediately above. As you can see, selecting the Serial Mode selects the mode of operation (8-bit/9-bit, UART or Shift Register) and also determines how the baud rate will be calculated. In modes 0 and 2 the baud rate is fixed based on the oscillators frequency. In modes 1 and 3 the baud rate is variable based on how often Timer 1 overflows. Well talk more about the various Serial Modes in a moment.
The next bit, SM2, is a flag for "Multiprocessor communication." Generally, whenever a byte has been received the 8051 will set the "RI" (Receive Interrupt) flag. This lets the program know that a byte has been received and that it needs to be processed. However, when SM2 is set the "RI" flag will only be triggered if the 9th bit received was a "1". That is to say, if SM2 is set and a byte is received whose 9th bit is clear, the RI flag will never be set. This can be useful in certain advanced serial applications. For now it is safe to say that you will almost always want to clear this bit so that the flag is set upon reception of any character.
The next bit, REN, is "Receiver Enable." This bit is very straightforward: If you want to receive data via the serial port, set this bit. You will almost always want to set this bit.
The last four bits (bits 0 through 3) are operational bits. They are used when actually sending and receiving data--they are not used to configure the serial port.
The TB8 bit is used in modes 2 and 3. In modes 2 and 3, a total of nine data bits are transmitted. The first 8 data bits are the 8 bits of the main value, and the ninth bit is taken from TB8. If TB8 is set and a value is written to the serial port, the datas bits will be written to the serial line followed by a "set" ninth bit. If TB8 is clear the ninth bit will be "clear."
The RB8 also operates in modes 2 and 3 and functions essentially the same way as TB8, but on the reception side. When a byte is received in modes 2 or 3, a total of nine bits are received. In this case, the first eight bits received are the data of the serial byte received and the value of the ninth bit received will be placed in RB8.
TI means "Transmit Interrupt." When a program writes a value to the serial port, a certain amount of time will pass before the individual bits of the byte are "clocked out" the serial port. If the program were to write another byte to the serial port before the first byte was completely output, the data being sent would be garbled. Thus, the 8051 lets the program know that it has "clocked out" the last byte by setting the TI bit. When the TI bit is set, the program may assume that the serial port is "free" and ready to send the next byte.
Finally, the RI bit means "Receive Interrupt." It funcions similarly to the "TI" bit, but it indicates that a byte has been received. That is to say, whenever the 8051 has received a complete byte it will trigger the RI bit to let the program know that it needs to read the value quickly, before another byte is read.
Setting the Serial Port Baud Rate
Once the Serial Port Mode has been configured, as explained above, the program must configure the serial ports baud rate. This only applies to Serial Port modes 1 and 3. The Baud Rate is determined based on the oscillators frequency when in mode 0 and 2. In mode 0, the baud rate is always the oscillator frequency divided by 12. This means if youre crystal is 11.059Mhz, mode 0 baud rate will always be 921,583 baud. In mode 2 the baud rate is always the oscillator frequency divided by 64, so a 11.059Mhz crystal speed will yield a baud rate of 172,797.
In modes 1 and 3, the baud rate is determined by how frequently timer 1 overflows. The more frequently timer 1 overflows, the higher the baud rate. There are many ways one can cause timer 1 to overflow at a rate that determines a baud rate, but the most common method is to put timer 1 in 8-bit auto-reload mode (timer mode 2) and set a reload value (TH1) that causes Timer 1 to overflow at a frequency appropriate to generate a baud rate.
To determine the value that must be placed in TH1 to generate a given baud rate, we may use the following equation (assuming PCON.7 is clear).
    TH1 = 256 - ((Crystal / 384) / Baud)
If PCON.7 is set then the baud rate is effectively doubled, thus the equation becomes:
    TH1 = 256 - ((Crystal / 192) / Baud)
For example, if we have an 11.059Mhz crystal and we want to configure the serial port to 19,200 baud we try plugging it in the first equation:
    TH1 = 256 - ((Crystal / 384) / Baud) TH1 = 256 - ((11059000 / 384) / 19200 ) TH1 = 256 - ((28,799) / 19200) TH1 = 256 - 1.5 = 254.5
As you can see, to obtain 19,200 baud on a 11.059Mhz crystal wed have to set TH1 to 254.5. If we set it to 254 we will have achieved 14,400 baud and if we set it to 255 we will have achieved 28,800 baud. Thus were stuck...
But not quite... to achieve 19,200 baud we simply need to set PCON.7 (SMOD). When we do this we double the baud rate and utilize the second equation mentioned above. Thus we have:
    TH1 = 256 - ((Crystal / 192) / Baud) TH1 = 256 - ((11059000 / 192) / 19200) TH1 = 256 - ((57699) / 19200) TH1 = 256 - 3 = 253
Here we are able to calculate a nice, even TH1 value. Therefore, to obtain 19,200 baud with an 11.059MHz crystal we must:
    1. Configure Serial Port mode 1 or 3. 2. Configure Timer 1 to timer mode 2 (8-bit auto-reload). 3. Set TH1 to 253 to reflect the correct frequency for 19,200 baud. 4. Set PCON.7 (SMOD) to double the baud rate.
Writing to the Serial Port
Once the Serial Port has been propertly configured as explained above, the serial port is ready to be used to send data and receive data. If you thought that configuring the serial port was simple, using the serial port will be a breeze.
To write a byte to the serial port one must simply write the value to the SBUF (99h) SFR. For example, if you wanted to send the letter "A" to the serial port, it could be accomplished as easily as:
    MOV SBUF,#A
Upon execution of the above instruction the 8051 will begin transmitting the character via the serial port. Obviously transmission is not instantaneous--it takes a measureable amount of time to transmit. And since the 8051 does not have a serial output buffer we need to be sure that a character is completely transmitted before we try to transmit the next character.
The 8051 lets us know when it is done transmitting a character by setting the TI bit in SCON. When this bit is set we know that the last character has been transmitted and that we may send the next character, if any. Consider the following code segment:
    CLR TI ;Be sure the bit is initially clear MOV SBUF,#A ;Send the letter A to the serial port JNB TI,$ ;Pause until the TI bit is set.
The above three instructions will successfully transmit a character and wait for the TI bit to be set before continuing. The last instruction says "Jump if the TI bit is not set to $"--$, in most assemblers, means "the same address of the current instruction." Thus the 8051 will pause on the JNB instruction until the TI bit is set by the 8051 upon successful transmission of the character.
Reading the Serial Port
Reading data received by the serial port is equally easy. To read a byte from the serial port one just needs to read the value stored in the SBUF (99h) SFR after the 8051 has automatically set the RI flag in SCON.
For example, if your program wants to wait for a character to be received and subsequently read it into the Accumulator, the following code segment may be used:
    JNB RI,$ ;Wait for the 8051 to set the RI flag MOV A,SBUF ;Read the character from the serial port
The first line of the above code segment waits for the 8051 to set the RI flag; again, the 8051 sets the RI flag automatically when it receives a character via the serial port. So as long as the bit is not set the program repeats the "JNB" instruction continuously.
Once the RI bit is set upon character reception the above condition automatically fails and program flow falls through to the "MOV" instruction which reads the value.

Interrupts

As the name implies, an interrupt is some event which interrupts normal program execution.
As stated earlier, program flow is always sequential, being altered only by those instructions which expressly cause program flow to deviate in some way. However, interrupts give us a mechanism to "put on hold" the normal program flow, execute a subroutine, and then resume normal program flow as if we had never left it. This subroutine, called an interrupt handler, is only executed when a certain event (interrupt) occurs. The event may be one of the timers "overflowing," receiving a character via the serial port, transmitting a character via the serial port, or one of two "external events." The 8051 may be configured so that when any of these events occur the main program is temporarily suspended and control passed to a special section of code which presumably would execute some function related to the event that occured. Once complete, control would be returned to the original program. The main program never even knows it was interrupted.
The ability to interrupt normal program execution when certain events occur makes it much easier and much more efficient to handle certain conditions. If it were not for interrupts we would have to manually check in our main program whether the timers had overflown, whether we had received another character via the serial port, or if some external event had occured. Besides making the main program ugly and hard to read, such a situation would make our program inefficient since wed be burning precious "instruction cycles" checking for events that usually dont happen.
For example, lets say we have a large 16k program executing many subroutines performing many tasks. Lets also suppose that we want our program to automatically toggle the P3.0 port every time timer 0 overflows. The code to do this isnt too difficult:
    JNB TF0,SKIP_TOGGLE CPL P3.0 CLR TF0 SKIP_TOGGLE: ...
Since the TF0 flag is set whenever timer 0 overflows, the above code will toggle P3.0 every time timer 0 overflows. This accomplishes what we want, but is inefficient. The JNB instruction consumes 2 instruction cycles to determine that the flag is not set and jump over the unnecessary code. In the event that timer 0 overflows, the CPL and CLR instruction require 2 instruction cycles to execute. To make the math easy, lets say the rest of the code in the program requires 98 instruction cycles. Thus, in total, our code consumes 100 instruction cycles (98 instruction cycles plus the 2 that are executed every iteration to determine whether or not timer 0 has overflowed). If were in 16-bit timer mode, timer 0 will overflow every 65,536 machine cycles. In that time we would have performed 655JNB tests for a total of 1310 instruction cycles, plus another 2 instruction cycles to perform the code. So to achieve our goal weve spent 1312 instruction cycles. So 2.002% of our time is being spent just checking when to toggle P3.0. And our code is ugly because we have to make that check every iteration of our main program loop.
Luckily, this isnt necessary. Interrupts let us forget about checking for the condition. The microcontroller itself will check for the condition automatically and when the condition is met will jump to a subroutine (called an interrupt handler), execute the code, then return. In this case, our subroutine would be nothing more than:
    CPL P3.0 RETI
First, youll notice the CLR TF0 command has disappeared. Thats because when the 8051 executes our "timer 0 interrupt routine," it automatically clears the TF0 flag. Youll also notice that instead of a normal RET instruction we have a RETI instruction. The RETI instruction does the same thing as a RET instruction, but tells the 8051 that an interrupt routine has finished. You must always end your interrupt handlers with RETI.
Thus, every 65536 instruction cycles we execute the CPL instruction and the RETI instruction. Those two instructions together require 3 instruction cycles, and weve accomplished the same goal as the first example that required 1312 instruction cycles. As far as the toggling of P3.0 goes, our code is 437 times more efficient! Not to mention its much easier to read and understand because we dont have to remember to always check for the timer 0 flag in our main program. We just setup the interrupt and forget about it, secure in the knowledge that the 8051 will execute our code whenever its necessary.
The same idea applies to receiving data via the serial port. One way to do it is to continuously check the status of the RI flag in an endless loop. Or we could check the RI flag as part of a larger program loop. However, in the latter case we run the risk of missing characters--what happens if a character is received right after we do the check, the rest of our program executes, and before we even check RI a second character has come in. We will lose the first character. With interrupts, the 8051 will put the main program "on hold" and call our special routine to handle the reception of a character. Thus, we neither have to put an ugly check in our main code nor will we lose characters.
What Events Can Trigger Interrupts, and where do they go?
We can configure the 8051 so that any of the following events will cause an interrupt:
  • Timer 0 Overflow.
  • Timer 1 Overflow.
  • Reception/Transmission of Serial Character.
  • External Event 0.
  • External Event 1.
In other words, we can configure the 8051 so that when Timer 0 Overflows or when a character is sent/received, the appropriate interrupt handler routines are called.
Obviously we need to be able to distinguish between various interrupts and executing different code depending on what interrupt was triggered. This is accomplished by jumping to a fixed address when a given interrupt occurs.
InterruptFlagInterrupt Handler Address
External 0IE00003h
Timer 0TF0000Bh
External 1IE10013h
Timer 1TF1001Bh
SerialRI/TI0023h
By consulting the above chart we see that whenever Timer 0 overflows (i.e., the TF0 bit is set), the main program will be temporarily suspended and control will jump to 000BH. It is assumed that we have code at address 000BH that handles the situation of Timer 0 overflowing.
Setting Up Interrupts
By default at powerup, all interrupts are disabled. This means that even if, for example, the TF0 bit is set, the 8051 will not execute the interrupt. Your program must specifically tell the 8051 that it wishes to enable interrupts and specifically which interrupts it wishes to enable.
Your program may enable and disable interrupts by modifying the IE SFR (A8h):
BitNameBit AddressExplanation of Function
7EAAFhGlobal Interrupt Enable/Disable
6-AEhUndefined
5-ADhUndefined
4ESAChEnable Serial Interrupt
3ET1ABhEnable Timer 1 Interrupt
2EX1AAhEnable External 1 Interrupt
1ET0A9hEnable Timer 0 Interrupt
0EX0A8hEnable External 0 Interrupt
As you can see, each of the 8051s interrupts has its own bit in the IE SFR. You enable a given interrupt by setting the corresponding bit. For example, if you wish to enable Timer 1 Interrupt, you would execute either:
    MOV IE,#08h
      or
    SETB ET1
Both of the above instructions set bit 3 of IE, thus enabling Timer 1 Interrupt. Once Timer 1 Interrupt is enabled, whenever the TF1 bit is set, the 8051 will automatically put "on hold" the main program and execute the Timer 1 Interrupt Handler at address 001Bh.
However, before Timer 1 Interrupt (or any other interrupt) is truly enabled, you must also set bit 7 of IE. Bit 7, the Global Interupt Enable/Disable, enables or disables all interrupts simultaneously. That is to say, if bit 7 is cleared then no interrupts will occur, even if all the other bits of IE are set. Setting bit 7 will enable all the interrupts that have been selected by setting other bits in IE. This is useful in program execution if you have time-critical code that needs to execute. In this case, you may need the code to execute from start to finish without any interrupt getting in the way. To accomplish this you can simply clear bit 7 of IE (CLR EA) and then set it after your time-criticial code is done.
So, to sum up what has been stated in this section, to enable the Timer 1 Interrupt the most common approach is to execute the following two instructions:
    SETB ET1 SETB EA
Thereafter, the Timer 1 Interrupt Handler at 01Bh will automatically be called whenever the TF1 bit is set (upon Timer 1 overflow).
Polling Sequence
The 8051 automatically evaluates whether an interrupt should occur after every instruction. When checking for interrupt conditions, it checks them in the following order:
  • External 0 Interrupt
  • Timer 0 Interrupt
  • External 1 Interrupt
  • Timer 1 Interrupt
  • Serial Interrupt
This means that if a Serial Interrupt occurs at the exact same instant that an External 0 Interrupt occurs, the External 0 Interrupt will be executed first and the Serial Interrupt will be executed once the External 0 Interrupt has completed.
Interrupt Priorities
The 8051 offers two levels of interrupt priority: high and low. By using interrupt priorities you may assign higher priority to certain interrupt conditions.
For example, you may have enabled Timer 1 Interrupt which is automatically called every time Timer 1 overflows. Additionally, you may have enabled the Serial Interrupt which is called every time a character is received via the serial port. However, you may consider that receiving a character is much more important than the timer interrupt. In this case, if Timer 1 Interrupt is already executing you may wish that the serial interrupt itself interrupts the Timer 1 Interrupt. When the serial interrupt is complete, control passes back to Timer 1 Interrupt and finally back to the main program. You may accomplish this by assigning a high priority to the Serial Interrupt and a low priority to the Timer 1 Interrupt.
Interrupt priorities are controlled by the IP SFR (B8h). The IP SFR has the following format:
BitNameBit AddressExplanation of Function
7--Undefined
6--Undefined
5--Undefined
4PSBChSerial Interrupt Priority
3PT1BBhTimer 1 Interrupt Priority
2PX1BAhExternal 1 Interrupt Priority
1PT0B9hTimer 0 Interrupt Priority
0PX0B8hExternal 0 Interrupt Priority
When considering interrupt priorities, the following rules apply:
  • Nothing can interrupt a high-priority interrupt--not even another high priority interrupt.
  • A high-priority interrupt may interrupt a low-priority interrupt.
  • A low-priority interrupt may only occur if no other interrupt is already executing.
  • If two interrupts occur at the same time, the interrupt with higher priority will execute first. If both interrupts are of the same priority the interrupt which is serviced first by polling sequence will be executed first.
What Happens When an Interrupt Occurs?
When an interrupt is triggered, the following actions are taken automatically by the microcontroller:
  • The current Program Counter is saved on the stack, low-byte first.
  • Interrupts of the same and lower priority are blocked.
  • In the case of Timer and External interrupts, the corresponding interrupt flag is cleared.
  • Program execution transfers to the corresponding interrupt handler vector address.
  • The Interrupt Handler Routine executes.
Take special note of the third step: If the interrupt being handled is a Timer or External interrupt, the microcontroller automatically clears the interrupt flag before passing control to your interrupt handler routine. This means it is not necessary that you clear the bit in your code.
What Happens When an Interrupt Ends?
An interrupt ends when your program executes the RETI (Return from Interrupt) instruction. When the RETI instruction is executed the following actions are taken by the microcontroller:
  • Two bytes are popped off the stack into the Program Counter to restore normal program execution.
  • Interrupt status is restored to its pre-interrupt status.
Serial Interrupts
Serial Interrupts are slightly different than the rest of the interrupts. This is due to the fact that there are two interrupt flags: RI and TI. If either flag is set, a serial interrupt is triggered. As you will recall from the section on the serial port, the RI bit is set when a byte is received by the serial port and the TI bit is set when a byte has been sent.
This means that when your serial interrupt is executed, it may have been triggered because the RI flag was set or because the TI flag was set--or because both flags were set. Thus, your routine must check the status of these flags to determine what action is appropriate. Also, since the 8051 does not automatically clear the RI and TI flags you must clear these bits in your interrupt handler.
A brief code example is in order:
INT_SERIAL:JNB RI,CHECK_TI;If the RI flag is not set, we jump to check TI
MOV A,SBUF;If we got to this line, its because the RI bit *was* set
CLR RI;Clear the RI bit after weve processed it
CHECK_TI:JNB TI,EXIT_INT;If the TI flag is not set, we jump to the exit point
CLR TI;Clear the TI bit before we send another character
MOV SBUF,#A;Send another character to the serial port
EXIT_INT:RETI
As you can see, our code checks the status of both interrupts flags. If both flags were set, both sections of code will be executed. Also note that each section of code clears its corresponding interrupt flag. If you forget to clear the interrupt bits, the serial interrupt will be executed over and over until you clear the bit. Thus it is very important that you always clear the interrupt flags in a serial interrupt.
Important Interrupt Consideration: Register Protection
One very important rule applies to all interrupt handlers: Interrupts must leave the processor in the same state as it was in when the interrupt initiated.
Remember, the idea behind interrupts is that the main program isnt aware that they are executing in the "background." However, consider the following code:
    CLR C ;Clear carry MOV A,#25h ;Load the accumulator with 25h ADDC A,#10h ;Add 10h, with carry
After the above three instructions are executed, the accumulator will contain a value of 35h.
But what would happen if right after the MOV instruction an interrupt occured. During this interrupt, the carry bit was set and the value of the accumulator was changed to 40h. When the interrupt finished and control was passed back to the main program, the ADDC would add 10h to 40h, and additionally add an additional 1h because the carry bit is set. In this case, the accumulator will contain the value 51h at the end of execution.
In this case, the main program has seemingly calculated the wrong answer. How can 25h + 10h yield 51h as a result? It doesnt make sense. A programmer that was unfamiliar with interrupts would be convinced that the microcontroller was damaged in some way, provoking problems with mathematical calculations.
What has happened, in reality, is the interrupt did not protect the registers it used. Restated: An interrupt must leave the processor in the same state as it was in when the interrupt initiated.
What does this mean? It means if your interrupt uses the accumulator, it must insure that the value of the accumulator is the same at the end of the interrupt as it was at the beginning. This is generally accomplished with a PUSH and POP sequence. For example:
    PUSH ACC PUSH PSW MOV A,#0FFh ADD A,#02h POP PSW POP ACC
The guts of the interrupt is the MOV instruction and the ADD instruction. However, these two instructions modify the Accumulator (the MOV instruction) and also modify the value of the carry bit (the ADD instruction will cause the carry bit to be set). Since an interrupt routine must guarantee that the registers remain unchanged by the routine, the routine pushes the original values onto the stack using the PUSH instruction. It is then free to use the registers it protected to its hearts content. Once the interrupt has finished its task, it pops the original values back into the registers. When the interrupt exits, the main program will never know the difference because the registers are exactly the same as they were before the interrupt executed.
In general, your interrupt routine must protect the following registers:
  • PSW
  • DPTR (DPH/DPL)
  • PSW
  • ACC
  • B
  • Registers R0-R7
Remember that PSW consists of many individual bits that are set by various 8051 instructions. Unless you are absolutely sure of what you are doing and have a complete understanding of what instructions set what bits, it is generally a good idea to always protect PSW by pushing and popping it off the stack at the beginning and end of your interrupts.
Note also that most assemblers (in fact, ALL assemblers that I know of) will not allow you to execute the instruction:
    PUSH R0
This is due to the fact that depending on which register bank is selected, R0 may refer to either internal ram address 00h, 08h, 10h, or 18h. R0, in and of itself, is not a valid memory address that the PUSH and POP instructions can use.
Thus, if you are using any "R" register in your interrupt routine, you will have to push that registers absolute address onto the stack instead of just saying PUSH R0. For example, instead of PUSH R0 you would execute:
    PUSH 00h
Of course, this only works if youve selected the default register set. If you are using an alternate register set, you must PUSH the address which corresponds to the register you are using.
Common Problems with Interrupts
Interrupts are a very powerful tool available to the 8051 developer, but when used incorrectly they can be a source of a huge number of debugging hours. Errors in interrupt routines are often very difficult to diagnose and correct.
If you are using interrupts and your program is crashing or does not seem to be performing as you would expect, always review the following interrupt-related issues:
  • Register Protection: Make sure you are protecting all your registers, as explained above. If you forget to protect a register that your main program is using, very strange results may occur. In our example above we saw how failure to protect registers caused the main program to apparently calculate that 25h + 10h = 51h. If you witness problems with registers changing values unexpectedly or operations producing "incorrect" values, it is very likely that you've forgotten to protect registers. ALWAYS PROTECT YOUR REGISTERS.
  • Forgetting to restore protected values: Another common error is to push registers onto the stack to protect them, and then forget to pop them off the stack before exiting the interrupt. For example, you may push ACC, B, and PSW onto the stack in order to protect them and subsequently pop only ACC and PSW off the stack before exiting. In this case, since you forgot to restore the value of "B", an extra value remains on the stack. When you execute the RETI instruction the 8051 will use that value as the return address instead of the correct value. In this case, your program will almost certainly crash. ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU POP THE SAME NUMBER OF VALUES OFF THE STACK AS YOU PUSHED ONTO IT.
  • Using RET instead of RETI: Remember that interrupts are always terminated with the RETI instruction. It is easy to inadvertantly use the RET instruction instead. However, the RET instruction will not end your interrupt. Usually, using a RET instead of a RETI will cause the illusion of your main program running normally, but your interrupt will only be executed once. If it appears that your interrupt mysteriously stops executing, verify that you are exiting with RETI.
8051/8052 Instruction Set
Alphabetical List of Instructions
  • ACALL: Absolute Call
  • ADD, ADDC: Add Accumulator (With Carry)
  • AJMP: Absolute Jump
  • ANL: Bitwise AND
  • CJNE: Compare and Jump if Not Equal
  • CLR: Clear Register
  • CPL: Complement Register
  • DA: Decimal Adjust
  • DEC: Decrement Register
  • DIV: Divide Accumulator by B
  • DJNZ: Decrement Register and Jump if Not Zero
  • INC: Increment Register
  • JB: Jump if Bit Set
  • JBC: Jump if Bit Set and Clear Bit
  • JC: Jump if Carry Set
  • JMP: Jump to Address
  • JNB: Jump if Bit Not Set
  • JNC: Jump if Carry Not Set
  • JNZ: Jump if Accumulator Not Zero
  • JZ: Jump if Accumulator Zero
  • LCALL: Long Call
  • LJMP: Long Jump
  • MOV: Move Memory
  • MOVC: Move Code Memory
  • MOVX: Move Extended Memory
  • MUL: Multiply Accumulator by B
  • NOP: No Operation
  • ORL: Bitwise OR
  • POP: Pop Value From Stack
  • PUSH: Push Value Onto Stack
  • RET: Return From Subroutine
  • RETI: Return From Interrupt
  • RL: Rotate Accumulator Left
  • RLC: Rotate Accumulator Left Through Carry
  • RR: Rotate Accumulator Right
  • RRC: Rotate Accumulator Right Through Carry
  • SETB: Set Bit
  • SJMP: Short Jump
  • SUBB: Subtract From Accumulator With Borrow
  • SWAP: Swap Accumulator Nibbles
  • XCH: Exchange Bytes
  • XCHD: Exchange Digits
  • XRL: Bitwise Exclusive OR
  • Undefined: Undefined Instruction
Thanks