New Part Day: The ESP32 Has Been Released

A few years ago, a strange little chip showed up on Seeed Studio one day. It was the ESP8266, originally sold as a serial to WiFi adapter. Since then, the microcontroller in this wee WiFi module was discovered, and the ESP8266 has been the breakout module for hundreds of Internet of Thing modules, and other wireless baubles.

The company behind the ESP8266, Espressif, wasn’t sitting on their laurels for the last few years. They’ve been working on a followup to the ESP8266. It’s the ESP32, and it’s faster, has more peripherals, better WiFi, and Bluetooth LE. Since Christmas, we’ve been ogling this chip. Now, it’s finally out. You can buy an ESP32 right now. Consider the ESP32 released.

Almost exactly two years ago, the forerunner of the ESP32 was released, allowing anyone to blink a LED from the Internet for five dollars. There was a catch with the release of the ESP8266, and that was documentation. Documentation in English did not exist, and it took Espressif a while to realize the hit they had on their hands. Even now, with a proper English datasheet from Espressif, we don’t know if the ESP8266 has 5V tolerant pins. Documentation was an issue for the ESP8266, but it didn’t really matter because someone on the Internet figured it out.

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it is the franchise with the most reboots. There’s some documentation for the ESP32, but it’s far from complete. There’s a CAN bus peripheral in the ESP32, but no one knows what pins it’s attached to. There are some secrets hidden away, but no one is at liberty to discuss them. No one outside Espressif has any idea if the specs are real. This will, of course, change in the next month or so, but only due to the tireless work of electronics enthusiasts the world over.

Right now, there are several listings on the usual online outlets including Espressif’s Taobao shop and Seeed Studio offering either bare ESP32 chips or modules based on this WiFi Bluetooth wonder. These modules include the ESP-Wroom-32 (PDF) that is seemingly based on the ESP31 test modules released late last year and the ESP3212, a module based on the popular ESP8266-12. There are also bare chips floating about.

As far as any new information regarding the ESP32 is concerned, don’t expect much. It’s released, though, and in a month or so the work of documenting this supposed wonderchip will begin.

Although they’re not available to everyone quite yet, we have two ESP-32 modules in hand, and [Elliot] is currently slogging through installing the toolchain and getting everything working. Watch this space, because we’re going to have an Introduction to the ESP-32 post up shortly.

91 thoughts on “New Part Day: The ESP32 Has Been Released

    1. I’m having trouble contacting sales@espressif.com, but I’ve managed to order 5 chips and 5 ESP3212 modules using http://taobaofocus.com/. I’d expect them to be here within a month and I’ll have a breakout board ready to test around the same time. Hopefully, it’s only a matter of time before I’ll be able to source larger numbers for a Tindie project.

      I’ll be updating my blog with progress very soon… https://matthewkerley.com

  1. Good luck, [Elliot]!
    It seems so unbelievable now that the amazing DIY potential that ESP8266 has took a while to be recognized. Now that we live in a fortunate world, where Chinese manufacturers offer us countless, inexpensive maker-oriented modules on eBay, I guess we’ll see a nice low cost devboard there in a few weeks.

  2. Also, keep in mind that documentation is very much a work-in-progress! The techdoc as it is is basically the state of the art with regards to what we’ve finished writing, editing etc. There’s still way more coming up, and the basic idea is to document everything very well this time; apart from some sensitive stuff (mostly the WiFi and BT RF interface) we’re trying to not have any secrets.

      1. First of all, the majority of our IP is there, so there’s some concern with respect to the competition. Secondly, and this is very much spoken off the record and on a personal note, I’m not sure if I want to be responsible for any idiot abusing the RF hardware to block all radio connections in a wide circumference of where he/she lives, prompting the FCC to make rules that imprison everyone who even thinks of writing replacement firmware for anything with an antenna connected it.

          1. SSID flooding still obeys the radio certification of the radio, it’s just an annoying practice. I think Sprite_tm is worried about people hacking the RF hardware to transmit on frequencies that are not free to use.

        1. Please do 802.11s. This could be a huge gain for industrial automation and for those of us utilizing OpenWRT.

          I know the FCC is going to tie our hands with the overall radio output power on the device. However they did not say anything about how we deliver the data…

          1. It’d be great just to get playing with mesh networking even.. I think it would be very interesting in the IoT space.

            I don’t think the FCC cares about the protocol used. They just care about frequency and transmit power because those are the restrictions of this ISM band. The protocol is free to choose, after all many other protocols such as Bluetooth, Zigbee, Zwave and many proprietary protocols use it.

    1. “Sensitive” quite possibly means: “the wi-fi has a bucket of bugs again, but we won’t tell you. Just for the fun of it. Oh, and the sensitivity of RX is at the level of Daria, the cynical misanthrope. And seriously, this time, the FW is gonna have a backdoor and maaaaaybeee it won’t be buggy as hell”

    2. Hey you work for them? Great that someone like you is involved with the manufacturer. Always great to have some focus on the maker market.

      (I’m familiar with the great work you did on tweakers like the series where you dissected (and usually broke) encrypted drives).

  3. I think the article tone is too skeptical. Espressif has been making lots of effort to understand the requirements of the worldwide community/industry and adapt to meet them; including open source licenses, hiring English speaking devs (shout to sprite_tm) from various parts of the world, FCC/CE testing, better documentation, github, modernizing build process, etc… And still bargain pricing. It is still coming together, but it is really an impressive effort.

  4. Looks like modules coming around the 20th, seed has a pre order but I guess a long queue. Going to wait for other distributors to get it!

    Agreed this will be, if esp8266 is not already, the goto 32bit micro for projects.

    I wonder if it’ll become the goto bluetooth module too? (assuming the wifi can be shut down to save power)

  5. “Now, it’s finally out. You can buy an ESP32 right now. Consider the ESP32 released.”
    “Although they’re not available to everyone, we have two ESP-32 modules in hand”

    So which is it? Can I buy one or not? I don’t expect proof-reading or anything crazy like that, but at least get the basic story straight.

      1. Like for esp8266, I’m sure that modules will be widely available through many vendors and via Ebay and Aliexpress, but for simple humble hobbyists, it would be nice to be able to purchase directly small quantities of bare chips (like 10 or less) for a price almost as cheap as on your Taobao’s shop (and Taobao agents are a PITA…).

        I’ve contacted sales@espressif.com and an appointed local distibutor, and they are reluctant to give me any details (or to answer at all) probably because they are clearly targeted at professionnals, asking me questions like “first, tell us what is your estimated mass production date ?”.
        So please think about providing a cost-effective (like free shipping!) alternative to poor and helpless modules salvaging :)

          1. Yes, I noticed. That’s why I was asking for “a price almost as cheap as on (Espressif’s) Taobao’s shop”, which was 2.85$ for one ESP32 qfn chip, so far from the $7 per chip you mentionned, even with port, which should be less than a dollar with China Post EMS…

        1. Lx106 mentioned in the link above as the CPU configuration used in the ESP8266. I agree with that one man month estimate, maybe it’s even a bit conservative. ESP32 uses different Xtensa configuration, which includes window ABI. This adds 200% more fun, to the point that I wouldn’t call it a simple and typical risc architecture. Still, should be doable. Sparc backend can be used as guidance w.r.t. the window register stuff.

    1. ESP32 (and ESP8266/ESP8285) support ESP-NOW, which is a protocol built on top of 802.11 vendor-specific action frames (see 802.11-2012 8.5.6). The latency is pretty low, i’m using ESP-NOW to control an RC airplane, and measured roundtrip time (with some software delays included) is usually within 4-5ms.

  6. So this has both Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE, AND supposedly support for canbus with the obvious “gateway” IC, correct?

    This could mean that it could easily make it possible for great yet still dirt-cheap universally interfaced OBD dongles to flood the market.

    Ofcourse there’s still the software hurdle, but atleast there isn’t the “bluetooth or Wi-Fi” debate.

  7. Heres to hoping a nodeMCU version comes out soon, as well as it added to the arduino loadout.

    I am also praying for a lot better sleep functions so that it can be a go-to for battery operated devices.

  8. I’d kind of like to see the 1980s version of the ESP. A foot and a half square circuit board with a Z80 on it, wired up to the guts of a CB radio. If you can get 1200 baud you’ve cracked it!

  9. How soon can arduino libraries run on this? Looking for a Bluetooth enabled system I can program like an arduino. Want to see how this compares to the cypress paid 4, or the nrf51822

  10. How soon can arduino libraries run on this? Looking for a Bluetooth enabled system I can program like an arduino. Want to see how this compares to the cypress paid 4, or the nrf51822.

    Looking for single module arduino type device with Bluetooth . I know there is Arduino programming for the esp . If this thing can be ported to the arduino and have bluettotth readily accessible, then I’d be clawing to get one.

  11. Any word on the Bluetooth profiles this will be able to support? I’ve been looking for months for a specific bluetooth gizmo and I’m resigned that I’ll just have to learn enough to make it myself. I was considering using some RasPis of some flavor but if this can be interfaced with some audio ADCs and DACs, this could be perfect.

  12. “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it is the franchise with the most reboots.”

    I don’t know if that phrase is original, but I love it!
    Who gets the acknowledgement when I quote it?

  13. I went along for the ride when the ESP8266 made it’s debut. thrashed with a couple of different frameworks (Espressif, Sming) before finally trying the Arduino port, which is now my preferred way to use these little wonders. It was frustrating but fun to watch the community tackle the issues.

    I now know enough to wait patiently for the Arduino port of ESP32. Might also try MicroPython on it if/when it’s ported.

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