Different Ports of 8051:
The P0 port is characterized by two functions. If external memory is used then the lower address byte (addresses A0-A7) is applied on it. Otherwise, all bits of this port are configured as inputs/outputs. The other function is expressed when it is configured as an output. Unlike other ports consisting of pins with built-in pull-up resistor connected by its end to 5 V power supply; pins of this port have this resistor left out. This apparently small difference has its consequences:
When the pin is configured as an output, it acts as an “open drain”. By applying logic 0 to a port bit, the appropriate pin will be connected to ground (0V). By applying logic 1, the external output will keep on “floating”. In order to apply logic 1 (5V) on this output pin, it is necessary to built in an external pull-up resistor.
P1 is a true I/O port, because it doesn't have any alternative functions as is the case with P0, but can be configured as general I/O only. It has a pull-up resistor built-in and is completely compatible with TTL circuits.
P2 acts similarly to P0 when external memory is used. Pins of this port occupy addresses intended for external memory chip. This time it is about the higher address byte with addresses A8-A15. When no memory is added, this port can be used as a general input/output port showing features similar to P1.
All port pins can be used as general I/O, but they also have an alternative function. In order to use these alternative functions, a logic one (1) must be applied to appropriate bit of the P3 register. In terms of hardware, this port is similar to P0, with the difference that its pins have a pull-up resistor built-in.