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Zynq-based, 40-pin DIP emulation of 8-core Parallax Propeller enters Hackaday semifinals

Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
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HAckaday Prize Logo.jpg


Parallax has served the maker community for more than two decades starting with the extremely popular BASIC Stamp microcontroller (based on a Microchip PIC) and associated training. The BASIC Stamp is a simple microcontroller. The latest Parallax foray into embedded control is the Propeller P8x32A, a custom multicore chip with eight 32-bit cores, its own programming language dubbed Spin, and a GUI called the Propeller Tool.


The Parallax Propeller first appeared in 2006 and Parallax released the Verilog code and top-level HDL files for the Propeller 8x32A in 2014. Antti Lukats, R&D manager at Xilinx Certified Alliance member Trenz Electronic, thought it would be a cool idea to take that Verilog code and add the eight Propeller 32-bit processor cores to the Xilinx Zynq SoC’s existing dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor using the Zynq SoC’s programmable logic fabric. Lukats used the smallest member of the Zynq SoC family, the Z-7010, to implement the Parallax Propeller.


The result: a Soft-Propeller Zynq FPGA Board—a 40-pin DIP module based on a Xilinx Zynq Z-7010 SoC that’s now a semifinalist in the 2015 Hackaday Prize competition, which received more than 900 entries this year.


The grand prize in this competition is a trip into space. Hence the space-helmeted skull in the prize logo.



Soft-Propeller Zynq FPGA Board.jpg


Soft-Propeller Zynq FPGA Board based on a Xilinx Zynq Z-7010 SoC




As Lukats points out, the Soft-Propeller Zynq FPGA Board is:


  • The lowest-cost Zynq-based module made (to date) with a preliminary price of 59-69 EUR
  • The first Zynq-based product in a Hackaday Prize Semifinal
  • The first Xilinx 7 series device in a Hackaday Prize Semifinal


What can you do with this module? Well, first of all, it’s code-compatible with the existing Parallax Propeller so you can use those development tools. Alternatively, you can view this product as simply a Zynq SoC on a low-cost, easy-to-use 40-pin DIP carrier and use Xilinx Vivado tools to develop a design. Here’s a nice pin diagram of the Soft-Propeller Zynq Module from the Trenz Electronic Wiki showing you the available I/O:



Soft-Propeller Zynq FPGA Board Pin Diagram.jpg



Soft-Propeller Zynq FPGA Board based on a Xilinx Zynq Z-7010 SoC



Finally, here’s a short video that Lukats made for the Hackaday semifinals that illustrates the numerous potential ways to use this ingenious module:





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