Propeller II update - BLOG

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  • Bill HenningBill Henning Posts: 6,445
    edited 2013-08-30 - 17:28:47
    Sitting on the edge of my seat... waiting for test results :)
    cgracey wrote: »
    Jeff Martin got a picture of one of the new Prop2 wafers that didn't get sent off for packaging:

    Attachment not found.

    I believe that because we used a low-cost multi-layer reticle set, the fab's test structure was inserted into a blank chip space below each real chip.

    If you look at the center area of the chip that looks like a dado blade, you can see 8 mild concentrations of wiring. Each one is the center of a cog.
    www.mikronauts.com / E-mail: mikronauts _at_ gmail _dot_ com / @Mikronauts on Twitter
    RoboPi: The most advanced Robot controller for the Raspberry Pi (Propeller based)
  • altosackaltosack Posts: 130
    edited 2013-08-30 - 18:59:47
    cgracey wrote: »
    ...If you look at the center area of the chip that looks like a dado blade...

    It is so cool that the main technical guy in my favorite microcontroller company knows what a dado blade is ! [And that he apparently expects us to know, too]

    I haven't yet done a project that uses both a Prop and a dado blade, but I guess now it's just a matter of time; the connection and the precedent have been set.
  • jmgjmg Posts: 14,003
    edited 2013-08-30 - 20:02:16
    cgracey wrote: »
    The part name of the Prop2 is:

    P8X32C

    Hmm. The industry convention has been to use suffix letters as die revisions.
    (both on the top marking and on the rear markings )

    So many could expect a P8X32C to be an Errata revision of a P8X32A

    I can see merits in using a common root, as part code finders work from that, but to me that is too close, and asking for returns.

    Better might be P8X32T128 ? - where 'T' is for Threaded, (or Tqfp), and the 128 is the pin count.
  • Oldbitcollector (Jeff)Oldbitcollector (Jeff) Posts: 8,090
    edited 2013-08-30 - 20:33:09
    Neat pics!

    Any chance you could take one more with a piece of currency or some other common item so we can get a sense of scale?

    Thanks!
    Jeff
    <br>
  • kwinnkwinn Posts: 8,350
    edited 2013-08-30 - 20:57:34
    jmg wrote: »
    Hmm. The industry convention has been to use suffix letters as die revisions.
    (both on the top marking and on the rear markings )

    So many could expect a P8X32C to be an Errata revision of a P8X32A

    I can see merits in using a common root, as part code finders work from that, but to me that is too close, and asking for returns.

    Better might be P8X32T128 ? - where 'T' is for Threaded, (or Tqfp), and the 128 is the pin count.

    Think of P8X32C as being modest about a really big revision. Beats all the hype and hoopla we usually have to put up with for what usually amount to minor changes.
    In science there is no authority. There is only experiment.
    Life is unpredictable. Eat dessert first.
  • Beau SchwabeBeau Schwabe Posts: 6,416
    edited 2013-08-30 - 21:37:03
    OBC - "sense of scale" .... the Propeller die is a 7.6 mm square


    Beau Schwabe --- Robotics applications- PCB design, embedded software, and mechanical
    Oklahoma Robotics -

    www.Kit-Start.com - bschwabe@Kit-Start.com ෴෴ www.BScircuitDesigns.com - icbeau@bscircuitdesigns.com ෴෴

  • ozpropdevozpropdev Posts: 2,581
    edited 2013-08-30 - 21:47:49
    jmg wrote: »
    ... Better might be P8X32T128 ? - where 'T' is for Threaded, (or Tqfp), and the 128 is the pin count.

    I don't care what Parallax calsl it. I just want one!
    Melbourne, Australia
  • Cluso99Cluso99 Posts: 15,454
    edited 2013-08-30 - 22:52:50
    Chip: Haven't you some equipment and probes that you can use to prod the chip die?
    Presume the time taken and you would have the packaged chips back.

    I thought the partno might be P8X92A or P8X96A and the P1B might be P8X64A, but I don't really care - I just want one too ;)
    My Prop boards: P8XBlade2, RamBlade, CpuBlade, TriBlade
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  • Beau SchwabeBeau Schwabe Posts: 6,416
    edited 2013-08-30 - 23:40:43
    This may be interesting to some ...

    IC Fabrication Process:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdkrrzsuNrU


    Beau Schwabe --- Robotics applications- PCB design, embedded software, and mechanical
    Oklahoma Robotics -

    www.Kit-Start.com - bschwabe@Kit-Start.com ෴෴ www.BScircuitDesigns.com - icbeau@bscircuitdesigns.com ෴෴

  • Oldbitcollector (Jeff)Oldbitcollector (Jeff) Posts: 8,090
    edited 2013-08-31 - 01:51:32
    What the diameter of the wafer?
    OBC - "sense of scale" .... the Propeller die is a 7.6 mm square
    <br>
  • Peter JakackiPeter Jakacki Posts: 8,708
    edited 2013-08-31 - 03:36:00
    cgracey wrote: »
    The part name of the Prop2 is:

    P8X32C
    It's your baby but the name doesn't seem any different from P8X32A, just a later revision, nothing to get excited about. I thought it was related to P1 but an entirely different beast under the bonnet which is why I favor P8FX128 myself.

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  • average joeaverage joe Posts: 795
    edited 2013-08-31 - 04:30:01
    Beau, thanks for the video! I have read about the process on several occasions but the visual component was always missing. Now I understand much better than before.

    Regarding the part #... I think something like JMG and Peter suggested would be best. Seems to me the P2 deserves more distinction from the P1 than just a suffix letter. Either way though... I just NEED one! The suspense is killing me!
    I spent a minute looking at my own code by accident. I was thinking “What the hell is this guy doing?”
  • doggiedocdoggiedoc Posts: 2,025
    edited 2013-08-31 - 06:04:52
    This may be interesting to some ...

    IC Fabrication Process:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdkrrzsuNrU

    Thanks for sharing that Beau. It was very informative. I have a much better grasp of the process now.

    Paul
    Some times my mind seems to wander..... these days I just tag along.
  • localrogerlocalroger Posts: 3,270
    edited 2013-08-31 - 07:49:02
    My gut reaction to that video: Really? Sure, pull the other one. There's a sky crane involved too, right? I think if you went back in time and showed that movie to Robert Noyce in 1958 he'd have thrown his hands in the air and gone to the race track instead of founding Fairchild Semiconductor. I know I am using a computer whose parts were made by that very technique -- only even more modern and complicated than what the hilariously dated film shows -- and I'm all like anybody who seriously proposes to try to make this work, much less for industrial production, needs a serious reality check.

    I am not sure whether the fact that we have managed to build our entire world around this technology is wonderful or terrifying.
  • GadgetmanGadgetman Posts: 2,436
    edited 2013-08-31 - 08:44:01
    Cluso99 wrote: »
    Chip: Haven't you some equipment and probes that you can use to prod the chip die?
    Presume the time taken and you would have the packaged chips back.

    Probes for that kind of measurements are 'pretty d@mn expensive'...
    (You'll need a very, very good magnifier to even see the threads connecting the die to the pins.)
  • Beau SchwabeBeau Schwabe Posts: 6,416
    edited 2013-08-31 - 09:36:42
    localroger,

    Although the video might be a little dated, the process and technique is much the same as far as growing the ingot and how the multiple layers are applied. Glass is still used for the master mask set that gets stepped and repeated optically on the wafer. All is pretty much the same as they do it today.



    OBC,

    I don't have a wafer to measure directly, but looking at the image posted.... if 22 pixels equal 7.6mm, and there are 582 pixels across the diameter, then I would guess that the wafers are about 201mm (7.9 inches)


    Beau Schwabe --- Robotics applications- PCB design, embedded software, and mechanical
    Oklahoma Robotics -

    www.Kit-Start.com - bschwabe@Kit-Start.com ෴෴ www.BScircuitDesigns.com - icbeau@bscircuitdesigns.com ෴෴

  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,213
    edited 2013-08-31 - 09:37:56
    Yep, somewhere they have chip probing machine. It was even used to fix issues in the first Propeller chips. It's in the story of "Why the Propeller Works". A document I can no longer find on the new Parallax web site.

    It is a fascinating read. It's that document that convinced me I had to try a Prop.

    I might guess the Prop II process is too small to use that machine on.
  • Invent-O-DocInvent-O-Doc Posts: 768
    edited 2013-08-31 - 10:02:07
    Great video! - it was worth the 38 minutes.

    Thomas Talbot, MD - New Market, Maryland, USA
  • potatoheadpotatohead Posts: 9,805
    edited 2013-08-31 - 10:53:10
    @Heater, yes. It is worth a read. That document came out of many core conversations many of us had together, or with Chip about how things were developing and the thought behind it all.

    I have one version attached. I have not read this for a while. Dang! Chip was particularly lucid when he authored that document. And here we are today... Long live the P1!
    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
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  • localrogerlocalroger Posts: 3,270
    edited 2013-08-31 - 13:19:54
    Echoing Heater and Potatohead, after I followed the Hackaday YBox2 writeup to Parallax, that document was one of the closing arguments in getting me to order that first demoboard.
  • localrogerlocalroger Posts: 3,270
    edited 2013-08-31 - 13:55:22
    Although the video might be a little dated, the process and technique is much the same as far as growing the ingot and how the multiple layers are applied. Glass is still used for the master mask set that gets stepped and repeated optically on the wafer. All is pretty much the same as they do it today.

    Yeah Beau I get that P2 isn't being made with flouride lenses and ultraviolet lithography, so it's pretty similar to what Intel was doing in the early 90's. It's just that, dang, even knowing intellectually how the process works, seeing it all brought together makes it look so ... improbable. I mean, if I didn't know that it is workable and you showed me that video as a concept animation and you were asking me to invest in the plant that was going to implement it, I'd say your chances of making that work would be somwehere between fairy dust and achoo. I really didn't appreciate how many steps are involved each requiring precise registration, precise control of exposure to resist, etchants, or particle beams, any one of which done just a little wrong will bork the entire wafer. The next time someone expresses skepticism that humans made it to the Moon I am going to point them to this video. Your computer and smart phone make Apollo look relatively simple by comparison.

    I happen to have a section of grown silicon crystal and a few reject wafers which I bought as novelties at gem shows. I realize it will probably end up in that display rack in the lobby at Parallax, but you could probably score some decent bucks for charity by auctioning off the defective P2 prototype wafer.
  • potatoheadpotatohead Posts: 9,805
    edited 2013-08-31 - 14:09:07
    I had a board before that text was written. For me, it was just the intrigue of the design. I was sold the moment I saw the thing. Total playground.

    Ok, I hit post a little early.

    Once that document came out, I think it solidified a lot of great ideas and feelings within this community and Parallax both. It's a bit awkward given how we've arrived at the P2, but really that's not a big issue. People don't scale, and launching the Propeller with such resonant beginnings is worth remembering, despite a synth driven, somewhat hungry for power P2.
    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
    Parallax colors simplified: https://forums.parallax.com/discussion/123709/commented-graphics-demo-spin<br>
  • koehlerkoehler Posts: 577
    edited 2013-09-01 - 01:05:16
    I would agree with jmg, denoting it as a C version does seem to go against conventional standard, and be a potential for recurring returns, etc, etc.

    For all the time, money, and resources Parallax has expended, why wouldn't you want to show unmistakeibly that this is a newer, better, faster generation?

    I would think something like P32x1600, (Mips) as a starting point.
    Or, maybe try to position this as a more Professional MainStream part, and ditch the Prop label (horrors!!!).

    The Prop may have significant cachet within the Prop world, however in the real world it has a decidedly 'quirky' reputation both in the enthusiast and professional circles.
    I know someone is going to want to start passing out the torches, however Parallax could certainly re-brand this effectively. On the plus side, everyone in the know so to speak, would know that it is the Prop II, however for all of those not in the know, looking up the new Brand would not have them come across a metric crap-ton load of negative feedback about the Prop I.

    While I seriously doubt a re-brand would ever happen, as this is part and parcel of the paradigm shift which is at the Core of the Company, the upside of doing so could only Help Parallax. There would be no downside, as mentioned above.

    BTW, this is not an attempt to troll, I would like to see Parallax get a nice bump in revenue so that they can continue to be 'quirky' :)
    kwinn wrote: »
    Think of P8X32C as being modest about a really big revision. Beats all the hype and hoopla we usually have to put up with for what usually amount to minor changes.
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  • potatoheadpotatohead Posts: 9,805
    edited 2013-09-01 - 01:15:41
    I'm OK with C. Maybe "B" will appear some day. Great! Frankly, I think "C" is humble and completely honest. It is, in fact, the third chip design.

    As for the branding and marketing efforts, the actual part number really isn't too important. Besides, it's entirely possible to have multiple product identifiers, one per target, if that makes sense. Sometimes it does. Really.

    Before any of that really kicks off, it's gotta work and we've gotta have some excellent materials to communicate the value. Would be nice to have some solid starting points identified and sorted out too.
    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
    Parallax colors simplified: https://forums.parallax.com/discussion/123709/commented-graphics-demo-spin<br>
  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,213
    edited 2013-09-01 - 04:50:57
    I don't know how the chips nomenclature effects things but here is a phenomena that Parallax has to counter somehow:

    If you visit the web site of ELFA, a rather large electronics distributor in Europe, they have a nice way of selecting micro-controllers from their huge range. You can check boxes for manufacturer, architecture, 8, 16, 32 bits, memory size, FLASH size, number of GPIO pins and other features.

    Their search system will filter its results and present you with options that fit your requirements.

    Guess what? The Propeller is NOT included anywhere there. You will not find the Propeller when looking for a micro-controller.

    No, the Propeller chips are buried away under some other section for hobby kits, or dev kits or whatever.

    This is a bit tricky as the Prop is so odd it does not fit into their micro-controller classification system. In general the Prop is not on the radars of the micro-controller world.
  • SeairthSeairth Posts: 2,387
    edited 2013-09-01 - 08:33:54
    Heater. wrote: »
    This is a bit tricky as the Prop is so odd it does not fit into their micro-controller classification system. In general the Prop is not on the radars of the micro-controller world.

    The P2 should be more easily recognized as a micro-controller. P1 was strictly digital I/O, so didn't quite fit the conventional definition for a micro-controller.

    So I wonder if you could use the following marketing strategy:
    1. Get P2 recognized as micro-controller (by the larger community, not just us).
    2. Use that recognition to bring awareness to P1 for those who just want the digital processing capabilities.
    3. Release a third chip which drops the analog features from P2, but keeps everything else (plus maybe more hub ram, faster clock, lower power?).

    That "new" version would allow people to prototype with the P2, then fairly easily switch to the "new" one (with external analog circuitry) for production systems. Obviously, this might edge out the P1, but I would think having P2 power at P1 prices would be a winning proposition for high-production applications.
  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,213
    edited 2013-09-01 - 09:08:39
    The calssification problem remains with the P2. Let's say it did make it onto ELFA's selection system.

    The only check boxes is satisfies are:
    Bit width - 32 - check
    RAM - 128K - check
    I/O Pins - 96 - check
    DAC -96 - may be check
    ADC - 96 - maybe check

    So far so good but then it goes down hill fast:
    FLASH - none
    UART - none
    SPI - none
    I2C - none
    USB - none

    and so on.

    So for the casual engineer sniffing around for those features, the Prop does not even show up. It has nothing to offer aparently that all the others are expected to have (32 bits, 128K RAM, some I/O bits)

    There is not check box for number of cores. There is no way to fit in the fact that the Prop can have all those "missing" features quite easily in sofware with a selection of driver objects.

    There is not a check box for advanced features like not needing interrupts, being able to drive any pin for any function (Not possible on many chips) and so on.
  • NumPyNumPy Posts: 26
    edited 2013-09-01 - 09:36:08
    On Digikey:
    P1 doesn't show up under anything but Embedded Microcontroller (41709 items) by manufacturer.
    It does not show under Application Specific MCUs.
    If you search for MCUs - 32bit - 8 cores it doesn't show but then it only has a filter for 400 MIPS and up.
    If you search for 32 bit and then filter again for 80Mhz you get 4 pages of 500 items per page, and it's there!
    I like the lack of hubris of P8X32C, but.... What do I know?
    A cool name that reflects, what in my opinion (and many others) is an awesome piece of tech would be just that cool, getting it listed on a distributors web site in a more available fashion might be something Parallax would almost HAVE to work out with the distributors. A name probably wouldn't help, IMHO
    I know I have absolutely nothing to say about this, but I really wish the P2's name reflected it's awesomeness. :-)
    No other manufacturer has the ability to put what Chip and the guys have put into the P1 and P2 as stated in the "What makes the propeller work" doc. I use that document in company meetings to push the use of P1/P2
    It would make sense to me to name the chip something no other company could name their chip. Something slightly outside a standard naming convention? P8X32C seems just the opposite.
    But I will still love it no matter what! I will still continue to push for it's use at work and the P1 is in one of our newest efforts right now.......
    And God said, "Let there be byte", and there was byte.
    God saw that the byte was good, and he separated the byte into bits.
    God called the first bit 1 and the second bit 0.
    And there was the 0 bit and there was the 1 bit, and they were the first code.
  • NumPyNumPy Posts: 26
    edited 2013-09-01 - 09:40:53
    Let me clarify my long windedness. P1 is only on a "short list" when you search by manufacturer at digikey. I hope that P2 doesn't suffer the same plight.
    And God said, "Let there be byte", and there was byte.
    God saw that the byte was good, and he separated the byte into bits.
    God called the first bit 1 and the second bit 0.
    And there was the 0 bit and there was the 1 bit, and they were the first code.
  • altosackaltosack Posts: 130
    edited 2013-09-01 - 09:45:19
    I don't think it would be cheating to make a software reference P2 design that included UARTs, SPIs, I2Cs, USBs, and PWMs, particularly if the software is readily downloadable from Parallax. If we want the P2 to compete on ELFA, then it only needs 1 available "CPU" core to do so; the rest could be dedicated to peripherals for the reference design. Then the first page or so of the datasheet (the first thing any engineer reads once he's interested in a microcontroller) would explain the wide range of serial peripherals available in a mix-and-match style, and some examples of combinations and available cores with those combinations. The same thing could be done for the P1.

    Flash is a sticky one, but there are some high-end TI DSPs, for example, that don't include flash. Even that could be gotten around by having a part number that was a minimal module that includes flash; this is the way that I want to buy it anyway, since I don't want to solder 128 0.5mm-spaced pins, nor the similarly-spaced pins of the flash modules.
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