Parallax Semiconductor – new company, spun off from Parallax…


Parallax Semiconductor is a new company, spun off from Parallax…

Parallax Inc. announced the creation of a new division, Parallax Semiconductor. According to Parallax Inc. Vice-President Ken Gracey, the new division has been formed specifically to focus support for OEMs with volume commercial applications using the company’s ICs.

Initially the company’s chips, such as the innovative Propeller multi-core MCU, were primarily used in their own products. Now the company is taking their IC strategy to the next level in response to growing interest from commercial OEMs. “As our chip sales to outside customers grow, we understand they benefit from our ability to tailor a technology and business relationship that uniquely meets their needs. We want to make it easy for commercial customers to exploit the advantages our chips have to offer. Parallax Semiconductor gives us an organization designed from the ground up to do just that.”

Gracey notes the creation of the new group has no impact on the existing Parallax business. “Parallax continues full-speed ahead with our historic mission serving a diverse range of customers and applications with innovative products. Parallax Semiconductor simply extends that mission to meet the needs of a larger commercial audience.”

The new division can offer custom design services and turnkey product design and manufacturing, allowing OEMs to speed time to market and reduce their own development costs. Gracey points out that “Starting with a clean sheet of paper, Parallax Semiconductor offers the flexibility and quick response OEMs need to get the most from our technology. It’s a simple model that combines a growing library of application examples and proven software with customer-specific support from a dedicated staff of Field Application Engineers.”

Distribution in the United States and Europe will be through Digi-Key, Mouser and Parallax Semiconductor. Chinese distribution will be through the Parallax China’s headquarters in Shenzhen.

Wow, does this mean the propeller chip was doing well enough to fork off a shop completely devoted to it? And/or a way to have professional services bundled around selling their flagship chip.

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  1. I’m somewhat skeptical. I gave the prop a fair shot and found problems with the prop chip:

    1 It’s the only chip in the world that runs the spin language, which is somewhat different from any language out there (VB and pascal….?) The language is a pain to manage ram

    2 It’s really not powerful at all. The prop can’t do floating or even division on a hardware level… It has software floating, but requires 2 32bit cores dedicated, and all computations input/output as strings

    3 It’s expensive and there are cheaper micros that are better in every way and cost less than a prop.

    4 Where’s the data sheet? Sorry but the terribad 30ish page data sheet isn’t enough.

    “in response to growing interest from commercial OEMs.” Who?

  2. For the Propeller designers I would have following suggestions for future versions:
    – built-in ADC
    – free C compiler, SPIN is maybe cool but C is a standard

  3. I’ve been using the Propeller a short time, and have found the SPIN language as easy transition from BASIC I used on another micro. Thru the use of software objects which can be downloaded, the chip has the ability to interact with many hardware devices without having to tear my hair out. I am doing some pretty cool stuff with video and sensors even at the beginner level. Personally, I wish them the best on their new endeavor.

  4. I personally prefer the Propeller. I’ll admit it has it’s downsides, native language, no ADC, etc. However, it is more versatile on a software level. There are currently ADC, Floating point, and multiple other objects in it’s OBEX. It’s language SPIN is very similar to Python, in operators and code structure, so it’s easier to learn if you know Python first.

    The “cog” system is unique and provides features you can’t find in other micros, such as simultaneous video, PS/2, filesystem (SD), VGA, and audio. I’ll admit it’s 32k RAM is a bit slim, but that will be solved with the Propeller 2, which should be coming out in about a year or less. According to Parallax, the newer Propeller will have 128k of RAM, enhanced structure, and (if I remember correctly) a C compiler, so you won’t need to learn SPIN.

    I use it all the time. You should at least try it.

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