Author Topic: ESP alternatives  (Read 764 times)

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Offline Dajgoro

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ESP alternatives
« on: January 22, 2019, 09:58:45 pm »
Hi

I was wondering if there was a alternative to the popular ESP modules (not including the RTL8710) which is made by some western company, and has a proper ide and documentation?
The ESP has a ton of code written for it, but I don't like how its still a sort of magical black box device.
Do any of the big mcu brands have something that has both wifi and ethernet in a single package with good code support, even if its a bit more expensive?
 

Offline edigi

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Re: ESP alternatives
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2019, 11:13:23 pm »
While I can't help you with your original question what I wanted to note is that I'm surprised to hear that you regard ESP as black box.
When playing with ESP32 I've found myself using the technical reference most often (register level description, 669 pages long currently):
https://www.espressif.com/sites/default/files/documentation/esp32_technical_reference_manual_en.pdf
I've used also the API reference frequently:
https://docs.espressif.com/projects/esp-idf/en/latest/api-reference/index.html

The root of the documentation (still with many more documents related to both SW and HW):
https://docs.espressif.com/projects/esp-idf/en/latest/
or in github:
https://github.com/espressif/esp-idf

The Arduino IDE also works just fine.

This is not to say that there could not be improvements either in documentation or in the HW.
E.g. although the ADC is specced as 12 bits in practice it has many issues limiting it to around 8 bits. When looking for alternatives however I've found that many recent controllers are plagued with very similar issue...
Similarly PCNT is just 16 bits. Sure one can extend it in SW but it would be so much simpler if 32 bits used directly in the HW.
Also while it introduces a great flexibility the APB is just in the way for many use cases (e.g. instant time stamping of fast events)

There is however the general tendency that there is not anymore such extensive documentation as it used to be couple of decades ago (remember everything used to have even schematics; not anymore). Simply it seems that no company can afford it anymore (time to market, budget etc)....

So IMHO one can have many valid reasons to look for alternatives (like if you say you wanted an ARM version), but I'm surprised to read that lack of documentation is mentioned as one of the main issues.

DISCLAIMER: I have no affiliation with Espressif. I've just bought and used stuff from them just like from many other vendors.
 

Offline nsrmagazin

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Hi all!
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Offline Dajgoro

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Re: ESP alternatives
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2019, 01:30:33 am »
I say its a black box because I always see it being used arduino style in some weird IDE with no debugger using arudino libraries which end up doing funny things.
It seems to me like its something brewed up by the community rather than a single manufacturer like MCP parts, which then has a consistent way of doing things.

That microchip module doesn't look too bad, and also its not that much more expensive, I'll look into it.
 

Online krho

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Re: ESP alternatives
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2019, 04:11:13 am »
 ESP32 uses freertos under the hood, so you can use this from any IDE that supports C++ development. e.g.. simple google search for ESP32 ide returns instruction on how to use it With eclipse IDE
 

Online cv007

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Re: ESP alternatives
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2019, 04:55:39 am »
It probably depends what you consider an alternative. If you are mainly after network access, Onion Omega2's are nice.
 

Online Yansi

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Re: ESP alternatives
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2019, 05:17:14 am »
I would rather like to hear about a WiFi chip, that does NOT have any internal user programmable CPU, that could be interfaced to a higher level MCU/MPU system through a common high speed interface, such as QSPI, SDIO or similar.
 

Offline lucazader

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Re: ESP alternatives
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2019, 06:00:27 am »
Have a look at the cypress range of wifi chips.
There are quite a few modules build with their chips that use a host MCU (stm32 f4's usually, as a hangover from when the product line was owned by broadcom) and im sure at least a few of these will have Ethernet support.
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: ESP alternatives
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2019, 06:06:50 am »
TI Simple Link.
 

Online Yansi

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Re: ESP alternatives
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2019, 06:16:27 am »
No more toy modules please. I just want a chip, that I could integrate into design (I am not that easily scared off by a 100 pin chip with RF interface), config and move data through a well defined interface and that's all.

Will have a look, thanks for tips.
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: ESP alternatives
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2019, 06:31:27 am »
No more toy modules please. I just want a chip, that I could integrate into design (I am not that easily scared off by a 100 pin chip with RF interface), config and move data through a well defined interface and that's all.

Will have a look, thanks for tips.

TI Has SL chips without an MCU and a module package.
 

Online westfw

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Re: ESP alternatives
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2019, 09:27:17 am »
Quote
I was wondering if there was a alternative to the popular ESP modules (not including the RTL8710) which is made by some western company, and has a proper ide and documentation?
Are you kidding?  For a while, every silicon vendor in existence was either offering a wireless module, or buying up fabless IP companies that had wireless modules.I think TI was one of the earlier cases, with their CC3000 modules (now NRND), somewhat as a result of their ChipCom acquisition (although IIRC, CC didn't have WLAN at the time the were acquired.)Atmel bought Newport Media, Ozmo, and Meshnetics.
Microchip bought Roving Networks and ZeroG.SiLabs bought Ember.
Cypress bought Broadcom's IoT division.
WizNet and Lantronix have modules.
If you want to nearly any trade show, there would be a bunch of vendors you'd never heard of selling "easy to use modules for wireless connectivity."  (there probably still are.  IoT, you know.)
At the time that 8266 was becoming popular, most of the competing modules sold for 5x the price in large quantities ($20-$30 if you bought one at a time), were leaving the Antenna and FCC issues to the OEM, and didn't offer any user programmability (in fear of providing access to their propritietary code.)  People were faced with "Things" that they wanted to add networking to, where the wireless module cost several times the entire reset of the system, and had an inaccessible CPU that was "many" times more powerful that the "Thing."  Prices have come down (now ~$10); I'm not sure if the IP issues have been "solved."


Quote
I would rather like to hear about a WiFi chip, that does NOT have any internal user programmable CPU, that could be interfaced to a higher level MCU/MPU system through a common high speed interface, such as QSPI, SDIO or similar.
Good god, why?  TI is probably one of the big vendors with chip-level solutions, I think.  But... how much networking stack do you want to be in there?  And do you trust a silicon vendor to provide and maintain a complete IP stack?  What about IPv6?  What about next week's deprecated security/encryption protocol?
 
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Offline technix

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Re: ESP alternatives
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2019, 06:46:53 pm »
Do you have export control concerns that require you blocking out all components sourced from a mainland Chinese company?

If it is just mainland China you must block out, maybe MediaTek MT7688. That is likely way too big a chip for your purpose, as it is a full blown wireless router chipset and runs Linux albeit with a largely open source environment.
 

Offline Dajgoro

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Re: ESP alternatives
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2019, 10:05:26 pm »
Quote
I was wondering if there was a alternative to the popular ESP modules (not including the RTL8710) which is made by some western company, and has a proper ide and documentation?
Are you kidding?  For a while, every silicon vendor in existence was either offering a wireless module, or buying up fabless IP companies that had wireless modules.
I know, and that's the problem. There are so many other modules, but the question is which are cheap, reliable, won't give me a headache working with, and as most important that they can be easily sourced in larger quantities.

Even if the ESP was the perfect chip, its still good to have a good alternative in case something happens to it.

Do you have export control concerns that require you blocking out all components sourced from a mainland Chinese company?
Not at the moment, but in my country I already experienced funky import issues from US sellers even tho I'm in the EU.


If it is just mainland China you must block out, maybe MediaTek MT7688. That is likely way too big a chip for your purpose, as it is a full blown wireless router chipset and runs Linux albeit with a largely open source environment.
The MT7688 looks like an interesting IC.
How easily can it be sourced, and how good is the support for it?

 


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