August 15, 2012 -- Parallax, Inc. has announced the beta release of a C/C++ compiler for the company's multicore P8X32A Propeller chip. The beta version of Propeller GCC is designed to take advantage of the Propeller's multicore architecture that allows multiple programs to be run simultaneously on the chip's eight 32-bit processors.
GCC is an open-source compiler for embedded-programming professionals. Propeller GCC represents a milestone that broadens the reach of the Propeller chip. "Our goal with PropellerGCC is to make the power of the Propeller chip accessible to a wider audience including industry professionals, hobbyists and students," said Parallax President Ken Gracey. "We hope that by providing a C/C++ option for Propeller we can help students better prepare for future careers in microcontrollers and robotics in this C-dominated industry."
Propeller GCC complements the existing Propeller assembly language, PASM, and SPIN (the Propeller's built-in high-level language). Parallax Semiconductor Application Engineer Daniel Harris explained, "All programming languages come with trade-offs between performance, efficiency and complexity. With Propeller GCC, designers can configure their applications to run in on-chip memory for highest speed, off-chip memory for huge programs, or a combination of both for the most flexibility."
Deeply embedded applications need precise timing, high-speed I/O and a small memory footprint, all historic challenges for C. Propeller GCC includes a run-time kernel that gives applications direct access to Propeller hardware including all I/O pins, video generators and advanced timer modules. There are also abbreviations of common functions (e.g., printf) that reduce the compiled program's memory size while still providing the functionality required by the vast majority of applications.
Professional C programmers will feel right at home with Propeller GCC, but its more advanced features (e.g., library management, linkage editor, version control, etc.) can be daunting for the less-experienced and aren't necessary for simple applications. In addition to the standard GCC features, Parallax also includes an easy-to-use IDE (integrated development environment) called SimpleIDE.
SimpleIDE combines a project manager, syntax-aware text editor, and downloader in one easy-to-use application and is available as a free download. The combination of Propeller GCC and SimpleIDE is especially compelling for education and training. The tools are free and will work with even the lowest-cost Propeller hardware.
is available now for free download for Windows, Mac and Linux platforms along with a collection of utilities and demos. Parallax plans to release the final release of Propeller GCC later this fall.
Posted by: John Miklosz
Go to the Parallax, Inc. website for details.