Our Multicore Concept
Our Multicore Concept and Architecture
The Propeller is a unique multicore microcontroller consisting of eight symmetric 32-bit processors. Each processor core, called a cog, is united by shared memory, managed by a central "hub", and has common access to all 32 I/O pins. By developing your program to utilize separate cogs to perform individual tasks, the problem of implementing complex real-time systems is greatly simplified over using the traditional single-processor, multi-threaded approach. Instead of trying to implement all tasks in a single program running on a single processor, you can now break your application down into what should have been separate parts all along - main application, serial ports, video displays, and motor control loops - each being unique code running in a separate cog. Each cog has the ability to access the Propeller's full 32 KB main memory map, making status and data conveyance between cogs in your program no more complicated than citing a common variable. The hub maintains memory integrity by providing mutually exclusive access to the Propeller's RAM to one cog at time in a round-robin fashion.
A quick look at the block diagram in the Propeller datasheet will show you how it works and will get you thinking about how the eight 20 MIPS cogs in the Propeller can be leveraged in your product. The QuickStart board is a simple introductory platform to multi-processing on the Propeller. Active product developers get the QuickStart board samples for free (which includes a P8X32A and all necessary support hardware), or you can buy the QuickStart board for $20 if you just want to try it out.
Software design with the P8X32A is made easy through the use of our Propeller Tool IDE and by taking advantage of special "Gold Objects" that have been pre-written and proven to minimize your development time. Additionally, should you need a helping hand to get started, our expert staff of Field Application Engineers will provide immediate assistance along the way to get your products completed and to market faster.
Applications and Target Markets
The Propeller is decidedly universal in applications with some of its many uses demonstrated by example. The most common applications include renewable energy, commercial robotics (UAVs, ROVs), user-interface systems with keypads and video displays, medical equipment, iPhone hardware and a long list of products designed by entrepreneurs and engineers alike.
These products are all modern. Their retail cost varies from a hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. The quantity of microcontrollers used for each product ranges from a few hundred to a hundred thousand units a year - Parallax Semiconductor is ready to meet your needs.
The choice is best exemplified by the success of developers who chose our multicore processors.
The P8X32A was our first silicon release in 2006, boasting a fully custom design - from design concept to logic schematic to transistor layout. Having proven the concept and effectiveness of symmetric multi-processing in an embedded environment, Parallax Semiconductor has taken customer requests for specific additions to our next processor. Requested additions such as more RAM, higher instruction throughput, integrated ADCs, integrated DACs, 1080p HD video, and program code lock and encryption have all been presently fully operational on an FPGA. Software written for the P8X32A will be mostly compatible with the new design. However, new tool chains and a new IDE are being developed that will take advantage of the industry leading and platform independent GCC compiler and Eclipse IDE. More specific details are published in the early release notes found here.
The versatility of the Propeller means that it can handle a range of applications that would require a catalog of different conventional MCUs. In turn, volume production of a single Propeller serving many applications achieves economy of scale to deliver amazingly high-performance at a very reasonable price. This keeps your decisions to a minimum – just pick the package you require for your project.
Parallax Semiconductor was grown by the team at Parallax Inc. with the explicit purpose of serving commercial and industrial customers. With a 22-year history of successful business in embedded development tools, single-board computers and processor design you can comfortably choose us as a supplier. There is no venture capital funding or external investment to be repaid – the company has grown from successful products and sales-generated reinvestment.