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Kloss
02-05-2007, 06:58 PM
Interesting that someone is brave enough to use a propeller chip in a
professional application.
This chip doesn't even have a datasheet, and it is very likely that
it has never been tested against any of the usual standards for integrated
circuits.
I would not even think about using it for anything other than hobby
projects.

Post Edited By Moderator (Joshua Donelson (Parallax)) : 10/23/2009 4:45:44 AM GMT

Gavin
02-05-2007, 07:19 PM
Spoil sport,
What's the point of being on the bleeding edge if you don't cut yourself every now and again:)
In six months time someone will have a C compiler then everyone will be jumping on the prop band wagon.
When the second version comes along there may be so many converts they could be saying we don't need no stinking C, Spin rules.

I think it is kind of fun trying to figure this thing out, a big problem is going backwrds and trying to remember how to program single core micros.

Hard core micro guys are used to using new chips, forgotten the number of times I have signed waviers on new micros, XC68xxx parts from Motorola etc.

Remember to start your hobby in a garage, could the next Motorola or HP.
Sometimes a part comes along that just looks like fun and the way of the future.

The prop has a very active user group and some guys are blazing the path for us like Rokicki, Mike and Andre, then there is Chip, so far over the bleeding edge that others are needed to translate for him.

Gavin
Propeller head and proud of it

simonl
02-05-2007, 09:14 PM
Hi Kloss,

Someone at Parallax (Andy Lindsay?) has been working on a datasheet for a while now, so it can't be far away. This forum also has several threads that include much of the info' most people require (e.g. PChip is pretty-much indestructable!), so being first to market with an industrial product's not that much on the bleeding edge. Anyways, before putting any prudct 'out there' it's wise to do your own thorough testing...

Just my opinion...

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Cheers,

Simon
-------------------------------
www.norfolkhelicopterclub.co.uk (http://www.norfolkhelicopterclub.co.uk)
You'll always have as many take-offs as landings, the trick is to be sure you can take-off again ;-)

Kloss
02-06-2007, 12:46 AM
Sorry, I didn't want to start a new thread, it should've been a reply to the thread 'industrial application'.
Don't know why this happened.

Parallax seems to adopt the open source motto 'release early, release often'.
But as far as my experience goes, the pure chip design takes about 10% of work.
The rest ist testing, documentation, testing and testing.
And if you want to sell your chip to automotive OEM's, you have to test 100% more.
For military or avionic applications, well, you have to test a lot more.

You always do well if you choose parts, that are at least available as automotive/military grade
versions.
So you can be shure that they are thorougly tested.

I've had enough of this bleeding edge technology on my desk to become conservative.

Paul Baker
02-06-2007, 12:50 AM
simonl said...

Hi Kloss,

Someone at Parallax (Andy Lindsay?) has been working on a datasheet for a while now, so it can't be far away.



That would be me, yes the datasheet is my only occupation at the moment. I have been working on characterizing every element of current consumption. The chip will be tested at automotive, and if govenment agencies show interest we would do further testing.

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Paul Baker (mailto:pbaker@parallax.com)
Propeller Applications Engineer
[/url][url=http://www.parallax.com] (http://www.parallax.com)
Parallax, Inc. (http://www.parallax.com)

CHIPKEN
02-06-2007, 01:04 AM
We often move ahead in engineering by being different from the others. I don't think I have ever seen a complete easy to read manuals as those prepared by Andre and Chip. Why can't the other chip companies prepare manuals you can easily read and understand?·Do they·produce free software tools and·inexpensive demo boards?http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/jumpin.gif

Chuck

CJ
02-06-2007, 01:08 AM
Paul,
I'm curious how many Pchips have been destroyed in testing, last time you talked about current, you were unable to kill a dip40 with 24 IO shorted
and before that, in another topic, someone mentioned maxing out the ESD machine, makes me think that the propeller is pretty darn tough.

I still have my first propeller, still going, and I have been quite lax on precautions (cats, wires, 0% humidity)

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Who says you have to have knowledge to use it?

I've killed a fly with my bare mind.

Paul Baker
02-06-2007, 02:31 AM
The Propellers are very stout, Ive only managed to partially destroy a couple. On one chip, P0 got permanently shorted, on another I weakened the PMOS side of P0 so the drive is assymetric. I've never been able to completely destroy the chip (no thats not saying you can't, especially if you do something drastically wrong like reverse bias the entire chip).

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Paul Baker (mailto:pbaker@parallax.com)
Propeller Applications Engineer
[/url][url=http://www.parallax.com] (http://www.parallax.com)
Parallax, Inc. (http://www.parallax.com)

QuattroRS4
02-06-2007, 03:07 AM
Kloss,
I have used the prop in high volume manufacturing enviornments - with a custom built p.c.b - based on previous experience with parallax products I didn't consider this particularly brave and I didn't have any real difficulty at all. Go ahead and use it - you will not be disappointed !

In fact I have found it to be very 'robust' in testing and applications - hot pulling/plugging ,shorting pins,no great deal of static handling methods followed - high temp - have had it at·75 deg. C·low temp at -2 deg C· just to try and break it·. Good ground planes on the P.C.B and a nice clean 3.3v supply·do it for me - every time.

Kloss - In response to the Industrial application - I just pointed this out as a possible stumbling block - not at all the fault of the prop or indeed the P.C.B used - just a noisy 3phase line ...

Gavin also correctly stated that the fact that this is a 3.3v based MCU makes any spike proportionately larger than·the same spike·for 5v MCU. It was just a statement of what was found rather than a problem - it was quickly sorted with a line filter fitted to a 3rd party·3 phase motor - no issue - these things are the norm rather than an exception.

OZstamp also pointed out valid·areas re: filters,PSU manufacturers claims,cable routing etc. With any design whether 'new' technology or·proven technology circumstances transpire - whereby a slight adjustment is required to sort any little issue. I have had no issue with it in a 24-7-365 high volume production environment and don't expect there to be one either - besides what better way to find out ?

As a final note I have had before, and will continue, to have the greatest confidence in all things parallax - they have NEVER let me down.·Variety is the spice of life - its new ... its cool ... be the first ..
I·wanted to make my job more interesting -·thats why I gave up on PLC's years ago ...·building and designing machines you want to be different . My view the·prop drives it to another level and adds 'bling' to boot.


Quattro

Post Edited (QuattroRS4) : 2/5/2007 7:52:40 PM GMT

Larry
02-06-2007, 03:07 AM
I got a couple back in June, promptly pulled one out of the box and breadboarded it. Of course, I miss-wired it, (twice), putting both VSS and VDD on the wrong pins. I thought I was being really careful, too. I bought one of those magnifier lights after that- my eyes are getting old.

That was before I even got to program the chip ONCE! On one of those occasions, the chip was hot to the touch. I figured that was the fastest $25 I ever spent.

As it turns out, there was no damage to the chip, and it's still the one I try new circuits with. I figure it's indistructible....

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cgracey
02-06-2007, 07:34 AM
Kloss said...
Interesting that someone is brave enough to use a propeller chip in a
professional application.
This chip doesn't even have a datasheet, and it is very likely that
it has never been tested against any of the usual standards for integrated
circuits.
I would not even think about using it for anything other than hobby
projects.

Kloss,

I understand what you're saying, and I'd have the same worries, myself.

In this case, though, I know that the Propeller is solid because I designed, debugged,·tuned, and tested·it myself. The only other person involved in the silicon·design was·one other layout engineer. This took eight years of my time, and two years of the layout engineer's time. An excruciating amount of attention went into every aspect of the Propeller's design and testing, and I allowed no compromises.

As for industry-standard tests, we recently hired a company called Nano Measurements·to perform their own environmental and ESD testing on the Propeller. Specifically, the following tests were conducted:

PPOT - Pressure pot, autoclave: 121ºC, 100% RH, 15 PSIG, 336 hours
TMCL·- Tempurature cycle, air, standard ramp: -65ºC to 150ºC, 500 cycles
PREC - Preconditioning (simulates soldering process): 30ºC, 60% RH, 192 hours
HTSL - High tempurature storage life: 150ºC, 1000 hours
ESD HBM - ESD human body model: All pins tested up to +/-8kV

Here are the results:

PPOT - 3 lots of 77 devices (PDIP, LQFP, QFN): 0 failures·(a lot of 77 ensures 3-sigma-quality with one failure)
TMCL - 2 lots of 77 devices and·1 lot of 76: 0 failures
PREC - 3 lots of 77 devices: 0 failures
HTSL - 1 lot of 230 devices (near-even mix of PDIP, LQFP, QFN): 0 failures
ESD HBM - 3 devices each of PDIP, LQFP, QFN:·all I/O pins survived +/-8kV (limit of tester) with VSS and VDD grounded, VSS-to-VDD·zap failed at·+/-3kV or greater

So, no environmental failures, and no testable ESD failures on I/O pins, but with the power supply pins failing at +/-3kV or greater·(which is quite acceptable). All these environmental tests say almost nothing about the quality of the chip, but only that the plastic packaging was good. The ESD tests start to give some metric of the silicon quality, but say nothing of what is far more likely to be a problem - design quality. There are no universal metrics for this, and it can only be understood by actually applying the device. This is the critical life test!

Here's why the Propeller is·high-quality:

The Propeller was an entirely full-custom effort. Every polygon of·the Propeller's·mask artwork was made here at Parallax - we designed our own logic, RAMs, ROMs, PLLs, bandgap references, oscillators,·and even·ESD-proof I/O pads.·All these structures were first fabricated on test chips and thoroughly tested before being applied to the final chip. This resulted in known-good blocks which could be confidently applied to the overall design. Then, the whole chip was fabricated and tested at·many·levels, in order to fix any problems resulting from integration and to fine-tune the clocking system and memory timings. The final chip, which is the only version we've ever sold, is the third iteration of this whole-chip process.

Towards the end of development, we invested in a Micrion FIB machine and a Schlumberger·e-beam prober to diagnose any problems and fine-tune the silicon. While the money to buy these used machines·was only about 0.5% of what they cost new, the time needed to get them running and to learn how to use them was a good six months. Now, we can do our own maintenance work·on them, which is not trivial. These machines·made it possible to see what was actually happening on the silicon (contactless, non-loading, 7Ghz oscilloscope function via an·electron beam)··and to perform modifications (via gallium beam and metalorganic gas)·before having another full chip made. All this was a huge adventure in itself, but invaluable in getting the silicon perfected.

I believe that the Propeller has received more attention to its quality than likely any other microcontroller in production. Big companies would never approach·such a project in the way we did. It wouldn't make any sense to them. They have a formulaic path·they follow which·minimizes design time and·ensures interchangeability of engineers, in exchange for a passable result. This involves RTL hardware descriptions, synthesis, place-and-route, IP blocks,·etc. It's·mainly managed chaos, not bottom-up design. The Propeller is correct by construction, not just given a stamp of approval by some $500k·software tool that managed to close timing on an inefficient·rat's nest of wiring and synthesized gates, that is bound to be big and power-hungry. The other fact is, big companies don't cultivate an environment in which any individual would have·the occasion, let alone reason, to know everything about a design, and then be able to ensure quality throughout. They rely on teams of people, none of whom knows everything about the chip. They also leverage IP developed by yet other people, in order to avoid reinventing the wheel. Even if the IP isn't buggy, it's rarely a perfect fit. If you've ever programmed Windows apps, you know how frustrating it is to be forced to rely on questionable black-box objects to get your application done. It's like trying to build a custom home, but being limited to shopping at·WalMart's Garden Center·for your building materials. The Propeller·comes from the antithesis·of this approach.

We should have a data sheet soon with quite a bit of characterization data in it. I hope it·will give people more confidence about using the chip. I think people's response so far on the forum validates what I've said here about quality, though. It is no accident or windfall that the Propeller is tough and reliable (not to mention low-power). It's very intentional.

I want people to·understand that big companies don't have a monopoly on quality. Many of the ways in which they do things actually undermine quality in the quest for expediency. We took the time to do everything right on the Propeller, and left no stone unturned.

We plan on a very long sales life for this chip, and have no intention of dilluting the concept with many slight variants, for which you'd inevitably be getting end-of-life notices for after a few years. This is good news for customers because they are the ones who·are going to be making investments in programming that will, in sum, dwarf the energy that we spent making the Propeller. We made a platform that is, hopefully, deserving of their coming efforts.


P.S. Kloss, I'm glad that you voiced your skepticism. I'm sure it's shared by others.·I needed this·impetus to explain a few things. Thanks.

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Chip Gracey
Parallax, Inc.

Post Edited (Chip Gracey (Parallax)) : 2/6/2007 11:04:17 PM GMT

SSteve
02-06-2007, 07:50 AM
Chip:

Parallax ought to put that post on the Propeller's Downloads page and call it "The Propeller Manifesto".

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OS-X: because making Unix user-friendly was easier than debugging Windows

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QuattroRS4
02-06-2007, 07:50 AM
Wow - gives me even more confidence using Parallax products - Chip - it is obvious you all hold this dear to your hearts .. well done - maybe the antithesis - should be the thesis !

BTW - this thread needs a subject title·like 'READ THIS !'

Chip - can I use this in a parts and operators manual for my machines - this has Quality all over it....
········ I am going to make a poster of this also if thats ok with you ? and put it in the workshop .... would·
········ look·great for customers and maybe inspire staff .........

Its out of the park .....

Kloss - Like I said the mentioned industrial app was·not a Parallax / Propeller issue·- I was·only stating that I had it out there and my only problem was with a 3rd party 3 phase motor - easily sorted by a filter...

Bleeding edge - gives the edge ! - It has already proved itself and orders for more machines - specifically·requesting the·same type of control and display are already on my desk - I have never been so busy and excited by a chip in my career.

Quattro

Post Edited (QuattroRS4) : 2/6/2007 12:11:24 AM GMT

cgracey
02-06-2007, 08:10 AM
Yeah, you bet! Whatever you want to do. My dad just called and suggested I repost it under "Why the Propeller works". I'll do that in a minute. Thanks.


QuattroRS4 said...
Wow - gives me even more confidence using Parallax products - Chip - it is obvious you all hold this dear to your hearts .. well done - maybe the antithesis - should be the thesis !

BTW - this thread needs a subject title·like 'READ THIS !'

Chip - can I use this in a parts and operators manual for my machines - this has Quality all over it....
········ I am going to make a poster of this also if thats ok with you and put it in the workshop .... would look··
········ great for customers and maybe inspire staff .........

Its out of the park .....

Kloss - Like I said the mentioned industrial app was·not a Parallax / Propeller issue·- I was·only stating that I had it out there and my only problem was with a 3rd party 3phase motor.

Bleeding edge - gives the edge ! - It has already proved itself and orders for more machines - specifically·requesting the·same type of control and display are already on my desk - I have never been so busy and excited by a chip in my career.

Quattro

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Chip Gracey
Parallax, Inc.

Harley
02-06-2007, 08:13 AM
Chip Gracey,

Thank you for more details on the Propeller development and testing. It is an highly interesting 'story' of an unusual IC development not done by some huge company.

Of course, we all are looking forward to the Propeller data sheet. I hope your explanation helps all those who are leery at using the chip.

And to think the Gen 2 version is 'soon' to come.

Just a satisfied propeller-head.

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Harley Shanko
h.a.s. designn

QuattroRS4
02-06-2007, 08:19 AM
We need this verbatim in PDF form - with a Chip Gracey signature at the end .(no - not signature - Autograph !)

Quattro

parts-man73
02-06-2007, 08:48 AM
Perhaps this can be an addition to the "History of Parallax". As the Propeller is the next chapter in the story of Parallax.

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Brian Meade

"They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night" - Edgar Poe

Gavin
02-06-2007, 08:47 PM
Damn Chip,
Why didn't you say all this ages ago?
Designed from the start as bullet proof and you did not even say so?
Well maybe you did somewhere but it should be in big red letters so we don't miss it.

I feel much happier now:)

Gavin