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8051 Simulators

It’s always exciting to give some practical shape to any of your idea (at least for some of us out there, it is). Successful output doubles the fun. Same goes for 8051 micro-controller. You have probably designed something and written / compiled a program code for it and you are almost ready to put it to test. Will it work? I know it’s tempting and you can’t really wait but there is still one essential step before jumping on to the implementation phase – simulation.


Simulation is a virtual imitation of the actual process or system. Simply put, you can test and verify your work before even touching the hardware. It is carried out on a computer terminal through specially designed software packages called simulators. Any simulator is normally designed for one specific purpose. If you search out there, you will find many simulators for various devices.

After finalizing your project, you can test-drive it using a simulator and you’ll be able to examine the exact output. Remove the errors, optimize the project for more efficiency and you’re good to go. Simulating is essential because any project cannot be perfect on the very first shot. In fact, you’ll find many errors and mistakes of your own that you never thought would exist. Finally, if you are able to obtain next-to-perfect-kinda output in the simulation then at least you’ve a chance that your project will practically work – provided that the hardware is properly designed.


Now that we have established the importance of simulation phase for any project, let’s talk about the available simulator packages for the 8051 micro-controller – specifically the ones that I have come across and experimented with.

As a beginner, I got introduced to PINNACLE52. It proved useful in many ways and enabled me to examine the output of my codes in every detail possible. It takes you down to bit level information for each port, register, memory etc. as the program is being simulated. You can simulate the program as a whole or in single steps. All in all, I liked the way it worked and it never disappointed me.

PINNACLE52 Environment

Unfortunately, the official website of PINNACLE52 is no more available. I wonder why? I still have it though. Kindly leave a request and I will get back to you.

Next I came across a more graphical simulator called the EDSIM51. It is simple and fun to use so I decided to continue my simulation work on this. It works pretty much the same as Pinnacle52 and offers additional functions like built-in modules interfaced (connected) with the micro-controller for simulation.

EDSIM51 Environment
EDSIM51 Environment

The EDSIM52 can be download from their official website here.

The most commonly used simulator, however, is known by the name Proteus. It is an advanced package as compared to Pinnacle52 or EDSim52 and includes a variety of other electronic components that you can utilize. It is not strictly for the 8051 and can be used for other micro-controllers or electronic simulation as well. If you are enrolled in the course of 8051 micro-controller then you are most probably working in Proteus for all your practical tasks.

You can download a demo version of Proteus from their official website.

In all my future posts, I will use Proteus for simulations and provide explanation where necessary. This way you will have a clear idea of how the project works and how to use Proteus.


Muhammad Faizan Khan is an Electrical Engineer and a Computer Geek. He is a technical guy and has more than 3 years of experience in Embedded Systems, Digital Logic Design, Computer Programming and everything else that’s logical. He mostly writes tutorials related to microcontrollers for beginners in his blog, PhaseWire.

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