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Published on 31 Jan 2012 | over 5 years ago

The Intel 8051 microcontroller is one of the most popular general purpose microcontrollers in use today. The success of the Intel 8051 spawned a number of clones which are collectively referred to as the MCS-51 family of microcontrollers, which includes chips from vendors such as Atmel, Philips, Infineon, and Texas Instruments.

The Intel 8051 is an 8-bit microcontroller which means that most available operations are limited to 8 bits. There are 3 basic "sizes" of the 8051: Short, Standard, and Extended. The Short and Standard chips are often available in DIP (dual in-line package) form, but the Extended 8051 models often have a different form factor, and are not "drop-in compatible". All these things are called 8051 because they can all be programmed using 8051 assembly language, and they all share certain features (although the different models all have their own special features).
Some of the features that have made the 8051 popular are:
4 KB on chip program memory.
128 bytes on chip data memory(RAM).
4 reg banks.
128 user defined software flags.
8-bit data bus
16-bit address bus
32 general purpose registers each of 8 bits
16 bit timers (usually 2, but may have more, or less).
3 internal and 2 external interrupts.
Bit as well as byte addressable RAM area of 16 bytes.
Four 8-bit ports, (short models have two 8-bit ports).
16-bit program counter and data pointer.
1 Microsecond instruction cycle with 12 MHz Crystal.
8051 models may also have a number of special, model-specific features, such as UARTs, ADC, OpAmps, etc...
PIN 9: PIN 9 is the reset pin which is used to reset the microcontroller's internal registers and ports upon starting up. (Pin should be held high for 2 machine cycles.)
PINS 18 & 19: The 8051 has a built-in oscillator amplifier hence we need to only connect a crystal at these pins to provide clock pulses to the circuit.
PIN 40 and 20: Pins 40 and 20 are VCC and ground respectively. The 8051 chip needs +5V 500mA to function properly, although there are lower powered versions like the Atmel 2051 which is a scaled down version of the 8051 which runs on +3V.
PINS 29, 30 & 31: As described in the features of the 8051, this chip contains a built-in flash memory. In order to program this we need to supply a voltage of +12V at pin 31. If external memory is connected then PIN 31, also called EA/VPP, should be connected to ground to indicate the presence of external memory. PIN 30 is called ALE (address latch enable), which is used when multiple memory chips are connected to the controller and only one of them needs to be selected.We will deal with this in depth in the later chapters. PIN 29 is called PSEN. This is "program store enable". In order to use the external memory it is required to provide the low voltage (0) on both PSEN and EA pins.
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