Parallax Releases Beta GNU C/C++ Compiler for Multi-core Propeller Chip

Share Article

PropellerGCC Expands Reach of Propeller Microcontroller

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.

Parallax, a leading microcontroller manufacturer, has announced the beta release of a C/C++ compiler for the company’s unique multi-core P8X32A Propeller chip. The beta version of Propeller GCC is designed to take advantage of the Propeller’s multi-core architecture that allows multiple programs to be run simultaneously on the chip’s eight 32-bit processors. PropellerGCC is available now for free download at for Windows, Mac and Linux platforms along with a collection of utilities and demos.

GCC is an industry-standard, open-source compiler for embedded programming professionals. Propeller GCC represents a major milestone that broadens the reach of the Propeller chip. Parallax President Ken Gracey shared, “Our goal with PropellerGCC is to make the power of the Propeller chip accessible to a wider audience including industry professionals, hobbyists and students. 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 explains, “All programming languages come with tradeoffs between performance, efficiency and complexity. With Propeller GCC the designer can configure their application 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 runtime 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 (ex: printf) that reduce the compiled program 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 (ex: ‘Make’, 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, so the package is budget friendly.

Parallax plans to release the final release of Propeller GCC later this fall. Feedback on the current beta version is encouraged. Please visit for more information.

About Parallax:

Parallax designs and manufactures microcontroller development tools and small single-board computers as well as a vast array of products including project boards, robotics kits, educational tools, and sensors. Parallax is dedicated to providing the electronics industry with products that are technically innovative, unique, and economical while staying committed to thoughtful, creative design and quality workmanship. Parallax Inc. is a privately held company located in Rocklin, California.

Follow Parallax: Twitter (, Facebook (, YouTube (, and Google+ (

Contact: Lauren Davis, Parallax Inc. (mktg(at)parallax(dot)com)

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Lauren Davis
Follow us on
Visit website