Makerville Knit: Industrial-Strength WiFi Breakout

If you need an industrial-strength IoT product, you need an industrial-strength WiFi chipset. For our own household hacks, we’re totally happy with the ESP8266 chip. But if you need to connect to the big, scary Internet you’ll probably want state-of-the-art encryption. In particular, Amazon insists on TLS 1.2 for their Web Services (AWS), and we don’t know how to get that working on the ESP.

[Anuj] designed a breakout board called the knit which includes a Marvell MW300 WiFi SOC. This chip has an onboard ARM Cortex M4F running at 200 MHz, which means you’ve got a lot of everything to play with: flash memory, RAM, a floating-point unit, you name it. And Marvell’s got an SDK for using AWS that includes things like an operating system and peripheral support and other niceties. TLS 1.2 is included.

Cd_tjKoWwAApnU9_thumbnailBest of all, a MW300 breakout is reasonably affordable (though more expensive than the mass-produced ESP8266 modules, naturally) and it’s an entirely open design. [Anuj] also seems to be setting up for a production run, if you don’t feel like making it yourself.

The MW300 is in all sorts of commercial IoT designs, and it’s a battle-tested go-to for interfacing with “the cloud” securely. The only hobbyist-friendly board that’s similar is the Adafruit WICED WiFi Feather, but it’s more expensive, less powerful, and out of stock at the moment, which just shows the demand for something like this.

Of course, if you need more integrated peripherals, you could just hack up a “Hello Barbie” toy which has the same chip as well as sweet audio codecs and a nice fat flash ROM.

We think it’s neat that [Anuj] would make and test a breakout for this powerful little WiFi SOC. We don’t need one for our projects right now — we’re running in entirely insecure mode — but it’s good to know what your options are. (We’re also looking into esp-open-rtos for the ESP8266 — we know they’ve been working on TLS 1.2 encryption, but we don’t know what their status is at the moment. Anyone?)

33 thoughts on “Makerville Knit: Industrial-Strength WiFi Breakout

    1. I am not sure if ESP* is being used in any commercial products, but this is. Case in point the Hello Barbie. Mostly because of the security features.
      Of course, the community behind ESP is crazy awesome. The tools, examples, support for different environments, etc. are the real value for ESP.
      And like Elliot said, a better comparison is with the Feather Wiced.

    2. >Why is it industrial strong? Explain please, because so far the ESP is more mature

      The Marvell platform was developed before the ESP came around. It just hasn’t been available to people that don’t want to order 10,000 units before now. The SDK is much better than all of the half baked crap out there for the ESP.

  1. I totally agree.
    That’s why all the supported tools are going to be FOSS projects
    gcc-arm for the toolchain, openocd for debugging.
    I personally use Eclipse IDE along with these things

  2. The Marvell MW300 looks really interesting given how many GPIO-pins and buses it offers and the very generous amount of RAM when compared to the ESP8266. I’d totally be interested in a devkit, but a quick look at the specsheet seems to indicate the SoC supports a lot more pins than this board brings out — why limit the number of pins to fewer than the SoC actually supports?

      1. Oh, right, I must have looked at the 88MW200 specsheet or something. Well, I suppose that makes things a tad clearer. I can’t seem to be able to find a proper specsheet for the 88MW300, how many of each I/O-interface does it offer — are there more than the one SPI-bus that’s already in use by Flash, and if there aren’t, can that same bus also be used for peripherals or does it being used by Flash preclude that?

    1. The non-Duo Linkit Smart 7688 only has one SPI-bus and it’s already in use by the internal flash — I don’t know if you can use the SPI-bus on it at all for running your own peripherals when it’s used for the flash. I, personally, count that as a major negative point for it.

      The Duo – version of it that combines the MPU with an Atmega MCU, similar to the Arduino Yun, is just as stupid a concept as the Yun is: they opted not to bring out any of the SoC’s own pins, only those of the MCU, even though the SoC has plenty of them already on its and you could perfectly well use both the SoC’s pins and the MCU’s pins for your projects. Marrying an MPU and MCU on the same board is a perfectly valid idea, but then deliberately not allowing people to use the pins of the MPU? No, that’s fucking ridiculous, especially when you’re already selling a board where those pins from the exact same god damn MPU are brought out!

      1. ‘especially when you’re already selling a board where those pins from the exact same god damn MPU are brought out!’

        And that is exactly why they are not on the other board. Follow the money :-)

  3. Or you could just have all your “things” hand over their data to a “broker” runing on a Linux server (Orange Pi etc.) and have the broker deal with all the external services as well as acting as a firewall and monitoring system for the state of your little cluster of things. This also allows you to partition off the things from the rest of the LAN to protect it from intrusion via the WiFi side.

  4. I’ve given up on the ESP…I’ve built simple devices that run perfectly for a few weeks then go in fatal wdt infinite boot loops. Don’t know if it’s the ESP, the flash , crap Chinese assembly or whatever and I’m not going waste any time trying to salvage a cheap crappy part. I’m moving on to the feather and/or the mkr1000. I’d rather spend $50 on solid reliable part than send hours trying to fix a POS. I hope the Feather and mrk1000 turn out to be reliable and get the kind of support the ESP has

      1. Hi Anuj – just thought I’d let you know that I tried to order one of your early access boards (I’m doing some testing for a project that will need a few hundred wifi chips and the 8266 suffers from verrryyy slow packet responsiveness..) and it wouldn’t let me order it with my Australia credit card – says ‘can not purchase with that card’.
        Which is strange as it’s my main card from a big bank here, that I use all around the world both on the web and in person….

        1. You tried the PayPal button right ?
          One Buy button is for folks in India, and the other buy button is for everyone else.

          https://www.paypal.com/in/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=ME2xscRZUwR0vbOIbcYbcPXs0LBzs5nwE1hr6XkeMZWqPGbmmkpXX0Tr6ZK&dispatch=50a222a57771920b6a3d7b606239e4d529b525e0b7e69bf0224adecfb0124e9b61f737ba21b0819848475f0da5465a2ea26eae033cbe3bda

          Can you send me a mail at anuj@makerville.io ? If it still doesn’t work, I’ll drop a mail to PayPal support.

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