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Stupid Propeller Tricks

EricBall

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The Propeller has two "native" languages. Like any microprocessor, Propeller Assembly (or PASM) is the human version of the machine code executed by each processor. But like 8-bit computers of old the Propeller has an onboard interpreter. However instead of being a version of Microsoft BASIC, this interpreter is for a new high level language called SPIN. The SPIN interpreter itself is written in PASM, but the initial code for any Propeller program is in SPIN (which can then start additional SPIN or PASM code). SPIN source code is compiled into bytecode to save space (since the Propeller only has 32K of onboard RAM available to SPIN), kinda like BASIC typically tokenized programs - although the compiling is done offchip.

 

Anyway, SPIN has access to all of the Propeller's features, including the video generator. This has always seemed a little pointless to me. Although the video generator can be used to for other reasons, SPIN is too slow to generate video. Or is it?

 

Last night I proved myself wrong by generating NTSC video with just SPIN code. It's admittedly low resolution (20 pixels across and only 1 color + black), but I'm hoping to improve that somewhat (I'm shooting for 32 pixels and 4 colors.)

 

Useless - yep. Well, unless you want a giant 2 character display. The problem is the processor is fully utilized, so there's no advantage to using the SPIN routine instead of a PASM driver which would also require a processor but would provide higher resolution and more functionality.



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