Our Multicore Concept and Architecture

The Propeller is a unique multicore microcontroller created by Parallax Semiconductor, Parallax Inc.'s R&D team.  Its eight symmetric 32-bit processor cores (also called "cogs") are united by shared memory, managed by a central "hub," and have common access to all 32 I/O pins. By developing your program to utilize separate cores 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 proecessor, you can now break your application down into intuitive separate parts — main application, serial ports, video displays, and motor control loops — each using code running in a separate core.
Each core has the ability to access the Propeller's full 32 KB main memory map, making status and data conveyance between cores 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 core at time in a round-robin fashion.
A quick look at the block diagram in the Propeller datasheet will show you how it works. Browsing through the Propeller Application Notes will get you thinking about how the Propeller chip's eight 20 MIPS cores can be leveraged in your product.  The Several Propeller chip package types are available for manufacturing, and a wide variety of Propeller development boards offer options for rapid prototype development and experimentation.

Propeller chips



Propeller Specifications:

  • Languages: Spin (native, object-based), Assembly (native low-level), C/C++ (via PropGCC)
  • Power Requirements: 3.3 VDC
  • Operating Temperature: -55 to +125 degrees C
  • Processors (Cogs): 8
  • I/O Pins: 32 CMOS
  • External Clock Speed: DC to 80 MHz
  • Internal RC Oscillator: ~12 MHz or ~20 kHz
  • Execution Speed: 0 to 160 MIPS (20 MIPS/cog)
  • Global ROM/RAM: 32768/32768 bytes
  • Cog RAM: 512 x 32 bits/cog

Where is the Propeller used?

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. The Propeller is used in many industries including manufacturing, process control, robotics, automotive and communications. Hobbyists and engineers alike are finding new uses for this powerful microcontroller every day.

When might you choose to use the Propeller instead of another product?

The Propeller is a good choice over other microcontrollers when a low system part count is desirable due to its ability to provide direct video output and an easy interface to external peripherals such as keyboard, mouse and VGA monitor. Pre-written objects to support many types of hardware also make it an attractive option. All of this plus low cost and a powerful, yet easy language are hard to beat in a world where microcontrollers come in so many flavors that it’s hard to make a choice. The Propeller really is an easy choice.

Why should you use the Propeller?

The Propeller microcontroller can free system designers from the constraints of many modern microcontroller systems in both hardware and software. The Propeller puts the fun back into design and programming while providing the power and flexibility required in today’s microcontroller-powered applications. Available as a DIP chip for prototyping, and two different package types for volume manufacturing. With its 8 cogs and 16 configurable counter modules, the Propeller chip can reduce component count and power consumption in your design, improving overall economy in high-volume production. For high volume orders or information on price breaks, please Contact Sales.