8051 IP Cores Make Excellent Microcontrollers for IoT, Wearables, Industrial Sensors, and More

8- and 16-bit MCS®51-compatible IP Cores provide sufficient performance and capability with less silicon area, energy consumption, cost, and risk than 32-bit alternatives


Though first introduced in 1980, the venerable 8051 Microcontroller is experiencing a rebirth as system designers find it an optimum solution for many of today’s most in-demand applications.

Current 8051 intellectual property (IP) cores use modern processor design techniques to run many times faster than the original 8051 chips. They offer several distinct advantages over many 8-, 16-, or 32-bit alternatives.

Low integration complexity. 8051 IP cores are complete subsystems, with a CPU pre-integrated with a rich variety of peripherals, interfaces, and other options.

Easier software development. 8051s are relatively simple to program, with many supporting resources available. Experienced programmers—and reusable code—are plentiful. Moreover, new cores offer sophisticated debug capabilities, and are supported by modern compilers and integrated development environments (IDEs) such as those from IAR Systems and Keil.

Competitive, royalty-free licensing and less overall cost. High-quality, production-proven 8051 IP cores are available with relatively low up-front licensing fees and no royalties, making them a bargain for high-volume/low price products.

Small silicon footprint and low power. Today’s 8051s use half or less of the silicon area required for most 32-bit processors, helping to reduce cost and power leakage. High-performance 8051s can further save energy by being clocked at frequencies much lower than other 8- or 16-bit processors. Features in some 8051 IP also allow designers to adjust the core’s energy consumption to match the processing workload via dynamic frequency scaling and independent control of the CPU and peripherals clocks.

Sufficient processing power for many applications. These modern 8051s are architected to achieve performance that dramatically bests early 8051s and rivals many 16- and 32-bit processors. In the CAST 8051 IP line (see Table 1), 8-bit versions run up to almost 27 times the original 8051, and the 16-bit 8051/80251 compatible version reaches almost 70 times. Also significant for Internet of Things and similar applications are the ability to handle up to 23 interrupt sources, and a remarkable low execution latency of just two clock cycles.

Table 1 — CAST 8051 IP Cores Family

The 8051 IP Line from CAST
An 8051 IP pioneer going back to 1997, CAST today works with technology partner Silesia Devices to pro-vide our best ever family of 8- and 16-bit MCS®51-compatible IP cores and related hardware and software solutions. These MCU IP cores for ASICs or FPGAs are some of the best you’ll find anywhere, and their royalty-free licensing and competitive pricing make them cost-effective solutions for a wide range of projects.
The CAST 8051 product family includes the following.

Super-Fast, Low-Power S8051XC3
A sophisticated architecture makes this the fastest 8-bit 8051 available anywhere. It uses a single clock per machine cycle, and executes instructions 9.41 to 26.85 times faster than the original 8051 at the same fre-quency, without requiring an external arithmetic acceleration unit such as an MDU.

Representative 65nm LP ASIC results have reached 500 MHz, for an effective speed-up of 1,000 times over 80C51 chips. Interrupt latency is a remarkably low two cycles.

It is also very small—with a CPU size under 6,500 gates—and energy efficient, with CPU dynamic power down to 2.3µW/MHz (40nm).

Ultra-Small T8051XC3
One of the smallest such MCUs available, this Tiny 8051 needs just 6.6K gates for its CPU and a useful set of peripherals (180nm process). It still runs at 0.1236 DMIPS/MHz, delivering 13.15x more performance per MHz than the original 8051.


High-Performance, Configurable, Mature R8051XC2
Built on 4th generation IP code and shipping in millions of customer devices, this mature 8051 core is ex-tremely configurable and easy to integrate. It executes 12.1 times faster than the original, and ASIC imple-mentations reach 430 MHz (90nm).

Legacy-Configurable Discrete Part Replacement L8051XC1
This MCU features flexible architectural timing and other features specially designed for the easiest-possible conformance to existing, sometimes very old, legacy systems. See the sidebar for details.

16-bit, 8051/80251 Compatible S80251XC3
This high-performance 16-bit microcontroller executes the MCS®251 & MCS®51 instruction sets and in-cludes a configurable range of features and integrated peripherals. The fastest 8051-compatible available anywhere (as this is written), it runs at 0.655 DMIPs/MHz for a 69.7x speed-up over the original 8051 at the same clock frequency, or more than 1,500 times faster than the original 8051 when clocked at maximum frequency.

Develop software for your CAST 8051 with the powerful, familiar Integrated Design Environments available from IAR Systems, Keil, and other providers. Seamlessly integrate with these through our on-chip hardware debug block and either four-wire JTAG or our unique single-wire SWAT connection to our CAST Debug Pods. These efficient pods are designed for fast operation, speeding program uploading and practically eliminating time lag in the interactive debug loop. Insert and monitor hardware or software breakpoints, trace elements, and more.

8051 Obsolete Part Replacement
Not every product is a shiny new mobile or micro-miniature gadget. Often designers must bring very old systems—with discrete chips that have long been discontinued and code whose authors may have passed on—into the 21st century with a minimum of effort and ex-pense. The Legacy-Configurable L8051XC1 can be an ideal solution.

The L8051XC1 core implements an MCS®51-compatible microcontrol-ler that is specially designed to match the timing and peripherals of legacy 8051 MCU based systems.

It can be configured to execute an instruction every 12, 6, or 4 clock cycles. Architectural extensions are user-selectable, including multiple data-pointers, a multiply-division unit, and a power management unit. Furthermore, the 8051 CPU can be coupled with a wide range of pe-ripherals matching the behavior and timing of peripherals found in lega-cy architectures from Intel, Phil-lips/NXP, Siemens/Infineon, Max-im/Dallas, Texas instruments and others. Several pre-configured ver-sions are offered; custom variations are also available.
The L8051XC1 runs legacy code, but new software development is facilitated through CAST’s on-chip debugging option, and debug pods that cooperate with IAR Embedded Workbench & Keil uVision™ IDEs.

Trust the 8051 IP Leader
Twenty-year-old IP provider CAST has delivered 8051 IP since 1997. We have over 200 customers, with 8051s shipping in hundreds of millions of devices around the world.

Our development, support, and sales teams are among the most experienced in the world, and we are ready to help you choose and use the ideal 8051 MCU for your next project.

Learn more by visiting www.cast-inc.com, email info@cast-inc.com, or call any time at +1 201.391.8300.

Contact Information

Cast, Inc.

50 Tice Blvd., Suite 340
Woodcliff Lake, NJ , 07677

tele: (201) 381-8300
fax: (201) 391-8694

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • TwitThis
Extension Media websites place cookies on your device to give you the best user experience. By using our websites, you agree to placement of these cookies and to our Privacy Policy. Please click here to accept.