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Why bother . . .



This is probably only of interest to potatohead, but I don't want to depress the Propeller crowd.


The Parallax Propeller is a pretty cool chip. Eight 32 bit cores running at 80+MHz with video output capabilities. A lot of people have said, that's cool let's make an emulator or videogames!


Except that ain't easy. Yes, the Prop has enough processing power to emulate an 8 bit CPU at a reasonable speed except...

  1. There's no external memory bus, so you only have 32K of RAM for everything.*
  2. Getting a working CPU emulator is easy, a cycle accurate one is much harder.
  3. Emulating the CPU interaction with other chips is hard, and cycle accurate is harder.
  4. Emulating a video processor, even ones from the 8 bit era, is damn difficult.

*Sure you can hook up an external memory, flash, eeprom, or SD card to the Prop. They all work great for bulk storage but are to slow for RAM/ROM emulation.


The other problem is there's really no point. Sure it would be neat to hook a Prop up to a TV and play 2600 games using it. But a PC can already run emulators for anything in the 8 bit and 16 bit generations. So can some consoles. Thus I'm just seeing the real advantage of the Propeller.


The other thing is to not emulate but create some kind of Propeller native game development environment. This avoids the difficulty of emulation but now means someone needs to develop both the game toolkit and the games themselves. Emulation has the advantage of the original game library with dozens or hundreds of hit titles. But now you have to get people who are passionate enough to create games. Again, I'm not seeing it.


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