Electronics > Microcontrollers

Is learning 8051 worthy nowdays.

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Muhammad Nasar:
I have started working with 8051 micro-controllers and i am also enjoying it a lot, but some of my class mates say that i should learn PIC or AVR instead, are they right? and  should i stop learning 8051 and pick up PIC or AVR.

8051s are quite old and mostly considered obesolete, I haven't seen a single hobby project on sites like Hack A Day for ages. AVRs and PICs are newer, more advanced, have more features and are widely available. They're also not complicated and easy to use.

If you don't do much electronics and simply enjoy 8051s then it won't hurt to continue using them, but learning more modern architectures is definitely worth spending some time.

8051 got a strong architecture with 256 instruction i think. PIC only got 35 instructions. 8051 is still in production i think so i wont say its obsolete. If you are willing to do Assembly the 8051 is much easier else switch to PIC. I have moved to PIC maybe because of PWM and ADC feature, rest i am learning and i will see what comes next, but I like PIC more than 8051.

There are still a LOT of 8051-architecture CPUs around, and it is worthwhile (IMO) to learn about them, if only because of their historical significance.  The Architecture is a little old-fashioned compared to an AVR, but recent chips have single-cycle execution and internal flash memory, making them pretty competitive with most other 8-bit CPUs when it comes to performance and price.  For some reason, they don't seem to show up in many hobby projects any more (a lot of them stopped appearing in hobbyist-friendly packages.)

For sort-of obvious reasons, a lot of chip vendors who consider their actual expertise to be in peripherals rather than CPU design chose to throw an 8051 core onto their otherwise State-of-the-art peripheral chips.  So you see things like single-chip radios with cpu, mp3 decoder with cpu, CCD interface with cpu, advanced A-D converters, audio processors, USB hub controllers with CPU, and so on, all with 8051 cores for their CPU.

Modern 8051 vendors:

Atmel: single-cycle AT89LP series with up to 64k flash, standard 8051-architecture with ISP flash, small pin count DIPs down to 20pins.  CAN, USB, and "Lighting" CPUs.

Cypress: EZ-USB (an other USB microcontrollers) and PSOC-3 (Programmable System on a Chip.  CPU with a significant FPGA array on the same chip) are available with 8051 CPUs.

TI: single chip radios and USB peripherals with 8051.  eg CC1110Fx, TUSB3410

Silicon Labs: advanced analog peripherals, ultrasmall packages (QFN10, 2x2mm), low power.

Analog Devices: advanced analog.  Eg ADuc845 (w dual 24bit A-D converters!)

See also http://8052.com

In general, yes, they are right, but also wrong :D
The 8051 architecture is considered very old school, and few people in either hobby or industry, given a clean slate, would chose 8051 as an architecture these days.
The main reason it's still used is familiarly with people who have used it in the past.

So they are right in that it's not the preferred choice these days, and you should learn something like AVR or PIC as well. But they are wrong in not thinking it's worthwhile. Having 8051 experience on your resume might won't hurt, and might just very well score you that embedded job over someone else who just has PIC/AVR experience. 8051 experience can often give you some "street cred"  ;)



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