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Thread: SX End of Life (EOL) Announcement

  1. #1

    Default SX End of Life (EOL) Announcement

    Dear SXers,

    Today we are making an official EOL announcement for the Parallax SX. You can read the attached PDF for timing, ordering information, etc.

    In the interest of our business and our customers, Parallax has looked at all options to continue supply. The wafer design is owned by Ubicom and we have been presented with a final ordering opportunity. In September will be ordering a tremendous number of SX chips to complete the EOL process, serving as many customers as possible. Our future supply will be depleted according to demand, a variable we are unable to accurately predict.

    There will be no effect on our own SX-based products, for which we have made per-product provisions for either a lifetime buy or redesign.

    We'll be handling this issue to the best of our abilities with your interests in mind.

    Sincerely,

    Ken Gracey
    Parallax Inc.

    P.S. We will make this thread "sticky" after a week or two. For now, we need to reach our SX customers (my concern is that sticky threads are often not noticed).

    Post Edited (Ken Gracey (Parallax)) : 7/31/2009 5:07:45 PM GMT
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    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  2. #2

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    Wow, that is an interesting business decision! I know that Parallax's main focus for the future is the Propeller chip, so this opens up some questions about filling the need for loyal SX users. Will there be an "SX-like" version of the Propeller coming out in the near future? I am thinking of a smaller DIP version with 28 pins like the SX. Maybe only 4 cogs instead of 8 to reduce the die size and price.

    Dave
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  3. #3

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    Hello Dave,

    Just to be very clear, the EOL was made by Ubicom and was not our decision or preference, but please direct any frustration towards Parallax instead of Ubicom.

    There's no SX-like Propeller planned which has small pin count, reduced cogs, etc. Our resources are clearly focused on the Prop 1, BASIC Stamp, Stamps in Class, sensors, how-to information and R&D associated with the Prop 2 (more RAM, code protect, smaller die size, 0.18 process, etc.).

    Sincerely,

    Ken Gracey
    Parallax Inc.
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  4. #4

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    I had guessed that this day was coming...And I had talked with Ken about it at the Propeller meeting. But it still leaves me in shock....

    Well at least the Propeller is TOTALLY controlled by Parallax.

    Bean.

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    Does that byte of memory hold "A", 65, $41 or %01000001 ?
    Yes it does...


    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  5. #5

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    It is too bad that Parallax doesn't have the resources to take the SX design and improve it: flatten the memory access, give it more RAM, remove the "compatibility" stuff -- boy, I would love to have that for small products where the Propeller is just too expensive to use.
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  6. #6

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    So is Ubicom just going to drop the design totally? If they aren't going to do anything with it why won't they sell the design or license the IP to someone else? It would be cool if Parallax could pick it up from them. Keeping the SX line around would be nice. It helps fill some niche areas where a Prop can't easily be used.

    I guess the only good news about this is that is may end the confusion between the SX microcontroller and the BS2SX for questions that pop up on the forums.....
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  7. #7

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    Somebody said...
    why won't they sell the design or license the IP to someone else?
    I agree. Better to make little money with a finalized design, than no money.

    regards peter
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  8. #8
    PJ Allen's Avatar
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    Bummer. [Heavy sigh.]
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  9. #9

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    Ken Gracey (Parallax) said...
    ... There will be no effect on our own SX-based products, for which we have made per-product provisions for either a lifetime buy or redesign.
    Ken,

    if I understand that correctly, then we will still be able to buy, for example, SX48 and 28 protoboardspast the EOL *and* also still when your last stock-up of free-standing SX's run out? [EDIT - Ken, no need *answered* by others below thx.]

    - Speaking for many that we are sad at the news,but probably OK if we can still get those proto's !

    thanks,

    Howard


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    Post Edited (CounterRotatingProps) : 7/31/2009 10:33:48 PM GMT
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  10. #10

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    This has major implications for most of the Stamp line since only the BS1 and BS2 still use a PIC microcontroller. Everything else uses an SX microcontroller. Clearly Parallax will be stocking up on enough SX chips to make Stamps for the next couple of years, but any future development will involve something else. The Propeller is a large chip compared to the SX, but the SpinStamp did/does use a Stamp form-factor with the Prop.
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  11. #11

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    Mike,

    I thought Ken specifically said, "There will be no effect on our own SX-based products". ... but you have an insight that I don't.
    You seem to be contradicting what Ken's posted.

    Ken, sorry could you please clarify this? [EDIT - Ken, no need *answered* by others below thx.]

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    Post Edited (CounterRotatingProps) : 7/31/2009 10:32:18 PM GMT
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  12. #12

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    I am very fond of the SX. The comunity here is great. Every question I have ever had has met with a very helpful solution. I am saddened to learn that the microcontroler I have chosen to invest my time in will be no more.

    I recently purchased som prop stuff to start learning, but I feel it is overkill for most of my projects. I would be curious to hear what prossesers you all are planning on sitching to. The SXs limited instrucion was very intutive and accomplished all I needed to do. When I finaly got around to learning SX/B if found it was a beautiful enhancment and frequently use SX/B with my ASM programs. IS there another product on the market with the Speed of the SX, a comunity this great, and doesn't force me to learn C? I'm open to suggestions.
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  13. #13

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    CounterRotatingProps,
    Please don't misunderstand me. I'm sure Parallax is stocking up on large numbers of wafers to be eventually packaged and incorporated into Stamps and other things. That said, Parallax would be foolish to start development on any new products based on the SX including SX-based Stamps. Ken said that "There will be no effect on our own SX-based products", but, for me, there's an "existing" that is implied and, even there, there will be an end to the SX once the existing chips are gone and a severe "case of the dwindles" before then. It may be a few years before then, but Parallax does take the "long view" on a lot of things. It's one of their strengths.

    natpie,
    I strongly suggest you continue with the Propeller. I'm very impressed with Hanno's beta of "Spinner". If you haven't looked at his announcement and demo video, I suggest you do. Assuming that he continues the development with the same care, thoughtfulness, and quality that he's used with other projects, I think this may become the entry point for educational use of the Propeller much as the Stamp Editor and "What's a Microcontroller?" has been for the Stamps. In terms of assembly language, the Propeller is actually a very good introductory instruction set as long as you stay away from the multiprocessor stuff. There already exist good tools for debugging simple assembly language programs and debugging in general and there are also several Prop simulators for the PC.
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  14. #14

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    JonnyMac said...
    It is too bad that Parallax doesn't have the resources to take the SX design and improve it: flatten the memory access, give it more RAM, remove the "compatibility" stuff -- boy, I would love to have that for small products where the Propeller is just too expensive to use.
    When I first saw the EOL announcement, one of my thoughts was small "lightweight" commercial products. I'm a hobbyist, and to go from an SX to a Prop, even at "double" (roughly) the cost, is no big deal, and I was headed there anyone. I go through maybe 10 or 20 processors a year.

    I was curious at what point this would become an issue on a "commercial" product. For an existing product, the cost of the chip change would be inconsequential in many cases when compared to the re-design costs in terms of the board and software.

    Thequestion I was contemplatingis, assuming a new design, at what price point for a finished product (the end user cost for an effects module for exampe) does the change in processor cost for $3.25 to $7.00 or so make a real difference.

    Obviously if the product sells for 10 bucks, this is a big deal. On the other hand, if it sells for a couple hundred, does it really matter (it would if this happened with every component).

    Just curious what the thoughts are on that.

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    John R.
    Click here to see my Nomad Build Log
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  15. #15

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    CounterRotatingProps said...
    Ken Gracey (Parallax) said...
    ... There will be no effect on our own SX-based products, for which we have made per-product provisions for either a lifetime buy or redesign.
    Ken,

    if I understand that correctly, then we will still be able to buy, for example, SX48 and 28 protoboardspast the EOL *and* also still when your last stock-up of free-standing SX's run out?

    Howard
    Iwould assumethat proto boards are not included in the set of "SX-based products", but I may be wrong.

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    John R.
    Click here to see my Nomad Build Log
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  16. #16

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    Hello John,

    I can switch to the Propeller for many projects but there are a couple that I can't. If the SX isn't an option then I will have to look at PIC chips, AVR's, or the TI430 for those. Price is one concern but in my case it isn't the biggest factor. I've used the SX processors as intelligent peripherals and for interfacing. They are fast and inexpensive. The biggest reason that the SX is better than the Propeller in these projects is the startup time. The SX processor is ready immediately while the Propeller isn't as it needs to read its program from an external EEPROM. That takes time and in some projects that is an un-acceptable delay. The SX is a really flexible chip that has internal flash, plenty of I/O, can be clocked at high speeds (up to 75Mhz without over clocking), and can run at 3.3v or 5v.

    I'm still going to use the SX (while available) but will have to weight all the options when I have to switch.

    Robert
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  17. #17

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    Well now for an obvious - and naive - line of thought, full of assumptions:

    1. Ubicom probably wanted out because the SX line not cost effective for them.
    2. Parallax didn't want to loose the device, least of all because of us, the loyal SX fan base.
    3. Ubicom wouldn't mind money.
    4. Why can't the dies be licensed (by Parallax from Ubicom)
    and Parallax contract a different fab shop/ foundary to make them?

    Would this make the chips cost so much as to be untenable?


    @Mike Green - thanks for clarifying - I should have read the PDF before posting - it and your reply made it make sense.
    RE: the SX versus Propeller footprint on BS boards - I just put an SX-48 48BD on top of a Prop 44QFN the Prop isn't really much bigger sans the legs. Do you think it would fit the Stamp form factor ? (I don't have any handy)

    - Howard

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    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  18. #18

    WBA Consulting's Avatar
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    One of the downfalls of not owning the design from scratch. Props go to Parallax (no pun intended) for stepping up with an honest and open EOL release.

    As for the questions about the proto boards, etc, the EOL PDF states:

    We have carefully planned for the SX’s EOL by choosing redesign or lifetime buy on a per-product basis

    This is a fairly common statement used in EOL notices. What it usually means (and probably does in this case), is that Parallax is purchasing enough SXs to maintain inventory of products based on the SX for the life of that product.
    So, as an example, if Parallax sells 500 of the SX48 proto boards each year and they expect to be selling it for the next 6 years, then Parallax is buying 3,000 SX wafers to reserve for this product alone. Those 3,000 will not ever be used to make SX48 chips to sell, but will be used to make SX48 chips for the SX48 proto board.

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    Andrew Williams
    WBA Consulting
    IT / Web / PCB / Audio
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  19. #19

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    @WBA Consulting - Andrew:

    That's correct. I'll reply in more detail this weekend when I have the opportunity to address every question in a single reply, but your analysis is correct. We review the monthly and annual quantities for each product. In the case of our core business (the BS2p series, for example) we'll store a 15-20 year supply of SX chips since there is no easy redesign alternative and stable firmware is a core necessity of the product line. Something like the Ping))) will be redesigned with a low-cost microcontroller (has only a few dozen lines of code in the SX), so we will hold a two-year supply for that part while we redesign and get it into production. It's a big spreadsheet of boring stuff, but you've got the idea.

    The challenge our company faces right now is the one posed by Ubicom: place your final order, Parallax. The second challenge we face is to convince our customers that the BASIC Stamp 2p supply will not be affected (at least for a long time). At present it appears that we'll order a three-year supply for our customers/distributors plus whatever they want to guarantee through allocation by being backed up by a purchase order.

    I know this is serious stuff; I had to EOL the SX52 several years ago and personally answered every question relative to its supply since then.

    More to follow - need to sign off for the day.

    Sincerely,

    Ken Gracey
    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

  20. #20

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    Ken,

    One more question besides the 'die license' one above:

    Independent of Parallax's EOL and online stocking orders, would it possible for a bunch of us to pool our resources together and make one big batch order (meeting EOL order type 1 in the EOL PDF)?

    What would the minimum order have to be to cross that threshold? (And I assume the order would have to be for one chip type, not mixed?)

    thanks much,
    Howard

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    Last edited by ForumTools; 09-30-2010 at 01:50 PM. Reason: Forum Migration

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