Clustering SuperPro Programmers: Why do you need clustering programmers?

This article contains common questions and related answers considering the cluster programming is still an unknown solution for most of us. Clustering Universal Programmers term has been first brought up by Xeltek in 2004.

First and foremost, what does “clustering programmers" mean?

Simply, it means gathering bunch of single socket programming units together, and creating your own gang programming environment.

How does the SuperPro Cluster programming stack up against conventional fixed socket gang programmers?

1) Often gang programmers do not provide flexibility and economy due to fixed number (4, 8, 16 )of sockets. And the ones on the market may not be the best match for your budget! However, a single socket programmer is not enough for planned output. The best solution for such conflict is clustering SuperPro Programmers. Start with 2-3 units, and expand your gang by adding new units as it needed in future.

2) Other limitation of the traditional gang programming is that all sockets share one central CPU(or MCU) and there is only one data buffer to program chips with. This architecture leaves two problems

  • The first issue is that all chips can be programmed simultaneously but have to be read or verified one at a time. In asynchronous programming, all operations are done independent of other chips, which increases programming efficiency.
  • The 2nd and more important issue is that some of the newer chips require calibration information and serial numbers, which are different from chip to chip. Traditional gang programmers have only one data buffer so they cannot accommodate programming each chip with different data.

Conventional gang programmers come in 4, 8, or 16 socket heads. But, there are several questions.

What if my volume is not enough to justify purchasing a 4socket gang programmer at high cost?

The solution is in the Cluster programming. Here, you can start with 2 or 3 units and add more later as needed.

What if my volume requirement has increased beyond my 4 or 8socket programmer purchased a year ago?

In the SuperPro Cluster set up, just add more units as needed. No need to buy a whole new set of 4 or 8gang programmer at high cost.

What if my volume has reduced and no longer need the 8gang programmer purchased a year ago?

In the SuperPro Cluster set up, just remove the unit(s) not needed and utilize elsewhere needed. You no longer have to be stuck with the expensive 8gang programmer not needed.

Any Programmer can be clustered?

Absolutely, NOT! In order to cluster programmers, use of stand-alone programmers is necessary.

What is Stand-alone mode?

Stand-alone is a technology first introduced to the market in August 2000 by Xeltek SuperPro 2000. Stand-alone means a programmer can be used without being connected to a PC. Setup is made through the built-in keyboard/LCD panel. Multiple project files may be stored in the removable memory card.

Cluster Programming is better than Multiprogramming?

It is comparing apple and orange. But we would like to compare SuperPro 501S 4Cluster vs. Beehive 204 for your understanding. When the production requirement increases beyond 4socket heads, incremental addition from 4 to 5 to 6 to 7… sockets heads is possible. For a small increase in production, only one SP501S unit needs to be purchased. In the case of Beehive204, a full set of the same unit purchase is necessary, causing high expense and low efficiency. Or, if the production requirement is decreased in the Superpro501S Cluster operation, one or more SP501S may be removed and utilized on other project. This is not possible in the Beehive204 operation. When a socket head becomes defective in the Superpro501S Cluster, only the defective module is removed and sent for repair. In the Beehive204, entire unit must be sent back for repair, causing production operation stoppage.

What else do Xeltek Cluster Programmers offer?

  • Asynchronous fast programming is ensured by each module being independent from one another.
  • The programming starts automatically when a chip is inserted. Anyone can operate the units.
  • Operator interaction is minimized. Therefore, any operator induced error is also minimized.
  • An operator can easily operate 10 or more units at a time.
  • Security of the data has been proven. Remove the CF card for safekeeping at end of each day.
  • Grow with production demand. Additional programming units can be added easily as the volume grows.
  • When one unit goes bad, only send that faulty unit for repair, and continue the operation with the rest. In a case of 8 socket gang programmer, the entire unit has to be sent back for repair effectively shutting down the entire operation.
  • For most devices, 5 sets of clustered programmers can easily provide same throughput of an 8 gang synchronous programmer.

Model SuperPro 501S 4C w/ CF cards Multimax 8g+ Labtool 848XP Beehive 204 Chiprog G4
Device Support



around 8K *


35681 *
Programming sequence Concurrent Concurrent Synchronous Concurrent Concurrent
Programmer architecture Standalone (no PC) Standalone PC required PC required PC required
Socket support Flexible, 1-n (16) sockets Fixed, 8 sockets Fixed, 8 sockets Fixed, 4 sockets Fixed, 4 sockets
Pin support 48pin each 48pin each 48pin each 48pin each 48pin each
Programspeed (prog+verify) 64mbit nor 11.3 sec 64mbit nor 85 sec 8mb flash in 75 sec 64mbit nor 9sec 64mbit nor 50sec
2.5mbit/s 480 mbit/s
Support O/S all o/s only xp and win 2000 no win 7 support all o/s all o/s
Supported Devices universal universal but limited support eprom, eeprom and flash only universal universal but limited
Compliances CE and RoHS compliant CE compliant CE compliant RoHS Compliant
Ease of maintenance Yes No No No No
Operator induced error Minimal High High High High
Additional cost factor None None PC + trained operator PC + trained operator PC + trained operator
Data security High Low / internal memory Low Low Low
Ease of expansion/ reduction Flexible, incremental Fixed, High Fixed, High Fixed, High Fixed, High
Low Voltage support 1.2V 1.8V 2V 1.8V 1.8V
Total Weight 6 lbs 19 lbs 19 lbs 8 lbs
Price 4 unit bundle/ $3980





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