The PIC16 instruction set

The instruction set is your window into controlling these chips to do your bidding. Knowing what the chips understand helps you come up with a plan of attack to solve your particular problem.

We need to get some basic info out of the way. The way variables are handled are through registers, these are 8-bit data buckets in the MCU. Also, the PIC’s used here are loosely an Accumulator based architecture, meaning most all operations have one destination, the accumulator known as the W register in PIC land, although you can usually redirect the result to a register… Your other registers are in the “register file” which is your data RAM.

Alright, now we’re getting to the interesting stuff. The instruction set is the list of all commands that the MCU understands. I’ll list them out and briefly describe what they do and what they are used for.

There is also a STATUS register in this chip, various bits of it respond to various operations. Consult the datasheet for more information on this.

  • f = name/address of register
  • b = bit # (0 – 7)
  • d = destination (0 for W, 1 for the register specified in f)
  • k = literal value, an immediate, a number or address

Byte-oriented file register operations

Instruction Description
ADDWF f,d adds W and f together
ANDWF f,d bitwise AND: W & f
CLRF clears f (sets it to 0 = 0x00 = 0000 0000)
CLRW clears W (sets it to 0 = 0x00 = 0000 0000)
COMF f,d compliment f (inverts. COMF of 0010 0101 = 1101 1010)
DECF f,d decrement f (f = f – 1)
DECFSZ f,d decrement f, skip next instruction if result is zero
INCF f,d increment f (f = f + 1)
INCFSZ f,d increment f, skip next instruction if result is zero
IORWF f,d bitwise OR: W | f
MOVF f,d move f (used to load a register into W: MOVF temp1,w)
MOVWF f move W into f
NOP no-op. no operation occurs this cycle, useful in delays or waits
RLF f,d bitwise rotate left through the carry bit
RRF f,d bitwise rotate right through the carry bit
SUBWF f,d subtracts W from f
SWAPF f,d swap nibbles in f (nibble = 4bits, half-byte)
XORWF f,d bitwise XOR: W ^ f

Bit-oriented file register operations

Instruction Description
BCF f,b clears bit ‘b’ in register f
BSF f,b sets bit ‘b’ in register f
BTFSC f,b test bit ‘b’ in register f, if it is clear -> skip the next instruction
BTFSS f,b test bit ‘b’ in register f, if it is set -> skip the next instruction

Literal and control operations

Instruction Description
ADDLW k add k to W
ANDLW k bitwise AND: W & k -> W
CALL k call a subroutine at address k
CLRWDT clear the ‘watchdog timer’
GOTO k goto or jump to address k
IORLW k bitwise OR: W | k -> W
MOVLW k move literal (immediate) k into W
RETFIE return from interrupt
RETLW k return from subroutine with literal k in W
RETURN return from subroutine
SLEEP go to sleep mode (low-power standby)
SUBLW k subtract W from literal (immediate) k
XORLW k bitwise XOR: W ^ k -> W

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