Espressif’s ESP32-P4 Application Processor: Details Begin To Emerge

Every now and then there’s a part that comes along which is hotly anticipated, but which understandably its manufacturer remains tight-lipped about in order to preserve maximum impact surrounding its launch. Right now that’s Espressif’s ESP32-P4: a powerful application processor with dual-core 400 MHz and a single-core low power 40 MHz RISC-V processors. Interestingly it doesn’t appear to have the radios which have been a feature of previous ESP parts, but it makes up for those with a much more comprehensive array of peripherals.

Some details are beginning to emerge, whether from leaks or in preparation for launch, including the first signs of support in their JTAG tool, and a glimpse in a video from another Chinese company of a development board. We got our hopes up a little when we saw the P4 appearing in some Espressif documentation, but on closer examination there’s nothing there yet about the interesting new peripherals.

Looking at the dev board and the video we can see some of what the thing is capable of as it drives a large touchscreen and a camera. There are two MIPI DSI/CSI ports on  the PCB, as well as three USB ports and a sound codec. A more run-of-the-mill ESP32-C3 is present we think to provide wireless networking, and there’s a fourth USB port which we are fairly certain is in fact only for serial communications via a what our best blurry photograph reading tells us is a Silicon Labs USB-to-serial chip. Finally there’s large Raspberry Pi-style header which appears to carry all the GPIOs and other pins. We’ve placed the video below the break, if you see anything we’ve missed please tell us in the comments.

We first covered this chip back in January, and then as now we’re looking forward to seeing what our community does with it.

52 thoughts on “Espressif’s ESP32-P4 Application Processor: Details Begin To Emerge

  1. I do wish manufacturers would think about their part numbering a little bit.

    ESP32 is a wifi-capable microcontroller module.

    Except, now ESP32-P4 is a microcontroller without the wifi.

        1. I believe EPS is actually an acronym for the power conduits on Federation spaceships. I’m not sure what the letters actually stand for there. You’re right though that ESP is probably a shortening of Expressif.

    1. Try and think what “ESP32” is meant to mean.

      It means 32 bit MCUs made by Espressif, nothing more. They also have other ESP32 modules without wifi already.

      It really isn’t that hard to remember what the different product lines are. The S series is their medium performance line, with wifi and sometimes Bluetooth. The C series is their lower performance RISC-V line. The H series is like the C series but for Bluetooth and thread, zigbee or similar. Now their P series is for high performance RISC-V MCUs with no built in radio.

      Just because you associate ESP32 with being a wifi capable MCU that doesn’t mean that is what the name is supposed to mean and it doesn’t mean your association with the name is correct.

      1. According to the details they released recently, it will have 3x TWAI channels, TWAI is “Two Wire Automotive Interface” which is CAN FD.

        Most likely they renamed their CAN interface so they don’t get sued or something.

        Almost all ESP chips support TWAI

          1. Having learned something new today, I thought I would take it a step further and do more research.

            They will likely add CAN-FD around 2034.

            The CAN-FD patent will expire then. They added TWAI because CAN as a trademark is still active but the patent for the protocol expired in 2014.

            It can be expected that when CAN-FD is no longer covered by it’s 20 year patent (patented in 2014) that it may be available in ESP chips.

            They can pay the license fee, but it will drive up the cost of the ESP chips significantly.


  2. ” Interestingly it doesn’t appear to have the radios which have been a feature of previous ESP parts” ….. so what’s that thing in the top right corner with an antenna attached?

    1. maybe read the entire article before commenting👍 it says they used an esp32-c3 for the wireless communications, which often comes in a preassembled shielded package with a pcb antenna.

      1. I generally read the comments before the article. If the comments are interesting, I’ll then read the article. I think this time, I simply forgot to read the article.

  3. As I said before: they iterate through all possible variants their designers can do with their knowledge, tools and licenses. Just keep the fab building and hope that someone might jump on the train.

  4. I don’t mind it, their software support quite decent. For all my hobby work, I prefer espressif parts. Unfortunately their low power performance is very bad, so I have to use Nordic Semi parts (which also have decent software support but don’t have the advantage of a strong community)

    1. I’ve got an ESP32C6 heading towards ~4ma with radios on and a power LED. That’s not Nordic territory. What can a Nordic do while still doing BLE ADV say with a ~500ms interval

  5. Espressif Systems is leading the industry. Hard to keep up.
    They prefix so many parts “ESP32” yet they are quite different- very confusing.
    I can’t make sense of the product lineup and their website has no matrix.
    What’s a WROOM, WROVER, C3, S3, C6, V3 UGH!
    Now I see a ESP32 PICO-V3 or V4 over the D4, ESP32 ECO V3 etc. – it’s terrible.
    Unless someone can explain their nutty part names?

      1. RISC-V is open source so no licensing required. And it’s less likely to be embargoed, where arm might be. It isn’t bad, but ARM cores generally perform better on speed/power. Nice that it exists though even if it acts as a cost competitor to keep ip licensing costs reasonable.

    1. All “ESP32” means is 32 bit MCUs made by Espressif, so the name is accurate and they are probably unlikely to change it. It’s no different to “STM32”.

      I believe the names like “WROOM”, “WROVER” and “PICO” are just names for their pre built modules with flash, sometimes ram, antennas, etc going off of their website:

      You can look up the module name and find what specific MCU they are using but I believe they all use just the base ESP32.

      The single letter plus number names are their MCUs, like the S3 is the S series major version 3 (although they do skip numbers sometimes). The S series are their mainstream processors, wifi Bluetooth and reasonably powerful processors with lots of peripherals. You could effectively think of the base ESP32 as the ESP32S1 as it seems to belong to that series with the processor it uses and it’s capabilities. The C series is less powerful and has less peripherals but uses a RISC-V processor and has wifi and Bluetooth, wifi 6 for the newer ones. The H series is like the C series but swaps wifi for thread, zigbee or similar. The new P series is for high performance RISC-V processors with no wireless capabilities it would seem.

      I don’t think the naming is that bad (except for modules) as once you know what the series are it becomes quite clear.

    2. Take your time, their names are actually pretty sensible since the feature sets do vary.

      Cx = RISC-V primarily
      Sx = performance oriented
      PICO = surface mount
      WROOM = bigger, easiest to solder (get it… room) – doesn’t have to surface mount
      WROVER = Wireless Room with RAM Overlay – has extra RAM
      Px = better-than-S performance oriented, probably no radios

  6. Mango Pi recently evaluated … and returned to Amazon.

    Reasons: Mango Pi image links didn’t work.

    dietpi booted, then locked-up with blue screen.

    We have ~5 sipeed Allwinner D1 nonocomputers.

    64 bit floating point reason.

    Appears sipeed is TRYING to use the Arduino IDE?

    Unable to get any working … yet.

    See sipeed Arduino updates

    ARM A53 Orange Pi zero 2W, Banana PI M4 zero, Libre Le Potator/Renegade, Raspberry Pi 4B 64 bit systems all work.

    All work with FireFox, Chromium, python3, gcc,, gedit, … and other complicated software.

    RISC-V platforms unable to implement all of this complicated software?

    RISC-V better suited to embedded controller apps using Arduino IDE?

    1. > RISC-V platforms unable to implement all of this complicated software?

      I believe it is less a matter of ability and more a matter of support and time. I don’t know of any Pi clone that is as well supported as the original Raspberry Pi’s are. (granted, this is hearsay, since I haven’t actually used any of the clones myself.) Additionally, ARM based systems have the benefit of being decently well supported even before RISC-V silicon *existed*. So, RISC-V platforms are *very* much in an early adopter phase, even if they are (if i remember correctly) actively being used by Nvidia in their graphics cards for their GSP.

      There is a whole lot more that can go wrong in the chain of Firefox depending on the Operating System depending on the Hardware than there is for the chain of Embedded Application depending on the (less complicated) Hardware that means there are more bugs to iron out. Assumptions made in various software that holds for existing platforms, and not new ones. Hell: you don’t even need to change CPU architecture in order to surface bugs and assumptions in software. Just look at Asahi Linux on Apple silicon, which has the same architecture as a Raspberry Pi (aarch64), but still has a bunch of stuff break because it requires a 16k page size, and the only reason that things are getting fixed is because of concerted community effort.

      > RISC-V better suited to embedded controller apps using Arduino IDE?

      In summary, maybe for now, because there are less issues and more control that happens when writing an “embedded controller application.” But the early adopter phase in other spaces is still critical so that those issues can be ironed out.

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