UART (UNIVERSAL ASYNCHRONOUS RECEIVER AND TRANSMITTER)

One of the microcontroller features making it so powerful is an integrated UART, better known as a serial port. It is a full-duplex port, thus being able to transmit and receive data simultaneously and at different baud rates. Without it, serial data send and receive would be an enormously complicated part of the program in which the pin state is constantly changed and checked at regular intervals. When using UART, all the programmer has to do is to simply select serial port mode and baud rate. When it’s done, serial data transmit is nothing but writing to the SBUF register, while data receive represents reading the same register. The microcontroller takes care of not making any error during data transmission.

sbuf

Serial port must be configured prior to being used. In other words, it is necessary to determine how many bits is contained in one serial “word”, baud rate and synchronization clock source. The whole process is in control of the bits of the SCON register (Serial Control).

Serial Port Control (SCON) Register

8051-serialp-port-16-638

  • SM0 – Serial port mode bit 0 is used for serial port mode selection.
  • SM1 – Serial port mode bit 1.
  • SM2 – Serial port mode 2 bit, also known as multiprocessor communication enable bit. When set, it enables multiprocessor communication in mode 2 and 3, and eventually mode 1. It should be cleared in mode 0.
  • REN – Reception Enable bit enables serial reception when set. When cleared, serial reception is disabled.
  • TB8 – Transmitter bit 8. Since all registers are 8-bit wide, this bit solves the problem of transmiting the 9th bit in modes 2 and 3. It is set to transmit a logic 1 in the 9th bit.
  • RB8 – Receiver bit 8 or the 9th bit received in modes 2 and 3. Cleared by hardware if 9th bit received is a logic 0. Set by hardware if 9th bit received is a logic 1.
  • TI – Transmit Interrupt flag is automatically set at the moment the last bit of one byte is sent. It’s a signal to the processor that the line is available for a new byte transmite. It must be cleared from within the software.
  • RI – Receive Interrupt flag is automatically set upon one byte receive. It signals that byte is received and should be read quickly prior to being replaced by a new data. This bit is also cleared from within the software.

Serial port mode is selected by combining the SM0 and SM2 bits:

hhh

In Mode 0, serial data are transmitted and received through the RXD pin, while the TXD pin output clocks. The bout rate is fixed at 1/12 the oscillator frequency. On transmit, the least significant bit (LSB bit) is sent/received first.

TRANSMIT – Data transmit is initiated by writing data to the SBUF register. In fact, this process starts after any instruction being performed upon this register. When all 8 bits have been sent, the TI bit of the SCON register is automatically set.

RECEIVE – Data receive through the RXD pin starts upon the two following conditions are met: bit REN=1 and RI=0 (both of them are stored in the SCON register). When all 8 bits have been received, the RI bit of the SCON register is automatically set indicating that one byte receive is complete.Since there are no START and STOP bits or any other bit except data sent from the SBUF register in the pulse sequence, this mode is mainly used when the distance between devices is short, noise is minimized and operating speed is of importance. A typical example is I/O port expansion by adding a cheap IC (shift registers 74HC595, 74HC597 and similar).

Mode 1

In mode 1, 10 bits are transmitted through the TXD pin or received through the RXD pin in the following manner: a START bit (always 0), 8 data bits (LSB first) and a STOP bit (always 1). The START bit is only used to initiate data receive, while the STOP bit is automatically written to the RB8 bit of the SCON register.

TRANSMIT – Data transmit is initiated by writing data to the SBUF register. End of data transmission is indicated by setting the TI bit of the SCON register.

RECEIVE – The START bit (logic zero (0)) on the RXD pin initiates data receive. The following two conditions must be met: bit REN=1 and bit RI=0. Both of them are stored in the SCON register. The RI bit is automatically set upon data reception is complete. The Baud rate in this mode is determined by the timer 1 overflow.

Mode 2

In mode 2, 11 bits are transmitted through the TXD pin or received through the RXD pin: a START bit (always 0), 8 data bits (LSB first), a programmable 9th data bit and a STOP bit (always 1). On transmit, the 9th data bit is actually the TB8 bit of the SCON register. This bit usually has a function of parity bit. On receive, the 9th data bit goes into the RB8 bit of the same register (SCON).The baud rate is either 1/32 or 1/64 the oscillator frequency.

TRANSMIT – Data transmit is initiated by writing data to the SBUF register. End of data transmission is indicated by setting the TI bit of the SCON register.

RECEIVE – The START bit (logic zero (0)) on the RXD pin initiates data receive. The following two conditions must be met: bit REN=1 and bit RI=0. Both of them are stored in the SCON register. The RI bit is automatically set upon data reception is complete.

Mode 3

Mode 3 is the same as Mode 2 in all respects except the baud rate. The baud rate in Mode 3 is variable.

In short

The parity bit is the P bit of the PSW register. The simplest way to check correctness of the received byte is to add a parity bit to it. Simply, before initiating data transmit, the byte to transmit is stored in the accumulator and the P bit goes into the TB8 bit in order to be “a part of the message”. The procedure is opposite on receive, received byte is stored in the accumulator and the P bit is compared with the RB8 bit. If they are the same- everything is OK!

Baud Rate

Baud Rate is a number of sent/received bits per second. In case the UART is used, baud rate depends on: selected mode, oscillator frequency and in some cases on the state of the SMOD bit of the SCON register. All the necessary formulas are specified in the table:

  BAUD RATE BITSMOD
Mode 0 Fosc. / 12  
Mode 1 1   Fosc.
16 12 (256-TH1)
BitSMOD
Mode 2 Fosc. / 32
Fosc. / 64
1
0
Mode 3 1   Fosc.
16 12 (256-TH1)
 

Timer 1 as a clock generator

Timer 1 is usually used as a clock generator as it enables various baud rates to be easily set. The whole procedure is simple and is as follows:

  • First, enable Timer 1 overflow interrupt.
  • Configure Timer T1 to operate in auto-reload mode.
  • Depending on needs, select one of the standard values from the table and write it to the TH1 register. That’s all.
BAUD RATE FOSC. (MHZ) BIT SMOD
11.0592 12 14.7456 16 20
150 40 h 30 h 00 h     0
300 A0 h 98 h 80 h 75 h 52 h 0
600 D0 h CC h C0 h BB h A9 h 0
1200 E8 h E6 h E0 h DE h D5 h 0
2400 F4 h F3 h F0 h EF h EA h 0
4800   F3 h EF h EF h   1
4800 FA h   F8 h   F5 h 0
9600 FD h   FC h     0
9600         F5 h 1
19200 FD h   FC h     1
38400     FE h     1
76800     FF h     1

Multiprocessor Communication

As you may know, additional 9th data bit is a part of message in mode 2 and 3. It can be used for checking data via parity bit. Another useful application of this bit is in communication between two or more microcontrollers, i.e. multiprocessor communication. This feature is enabled by setting the SM2 bit of the SCON register. As a result, after receiving the STOP bit, indicating end of the message, the serial port interrupt will be generated only if the bit RB8 = 1 (the 9th bit).

This is how it looks like in practice:

Suppose there are several microcontrollers sharing the same interface. Each of them has its own address. An address byte differs from a data byte because it has the 9th bit set (1), while this bit is cleared (0) in a data byte. When the microcontroller A (master) wants to transmit a block of data to one of several slaves, it first sends out an address byte which identifies the target slave. An address byte will generate an interrupt in all slaves so that they can examine the received byte and check whether it matches their address.

Of course, only one of them will match the address and immediately clear the SM2 bit of the SCON register and prepare to receive the data byte to come. Other slaves not being addressed leave their SM2 bit set ignoring the coming data bytes.

 

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