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C51: Memory accesses providing strange results

Question asked by david_t on Jul 29, 2014
I would like to share some knowledge about a point that puzzled me for 3 days.

In Keil µVision (C51), if you write the following:
    char *ptr = (char *)0x8000;
for accessing data located in some Flash memory for example... You won't get the expected results: the pointer will read elsewhere.
Actually the pointer does not hold on 2 bytes as expected, but on 3 (generic pointer), however the explicit cast does not provide you the 3rd byte necessary to access XDATA (for example).
Some pointers hold on 1 byte: for accessing IDATA.

In such cases, advice is to _always_ specify which address space it is pointing to:
    char xdata *ptr = (char xdata *)0x8000;
so that the generated assembly code makes use of the appropriate opcodes (DPTR in the case of XDATA). This pointer is really 2-byte long and will allow you to read/write at the right location.

Note that any function prototype taking a pointer as argument is concerned with this issue.

If the destination is not known at compile-time (because of a generic function), use the keyword "generic" (but don't try to cast an integer to a generic pointer unless you really know how it will be decoded).