New chips: ESP32 and ATmega328PB

Some of my favorite small micro-controller platforms (as you might have seen if you have been reading this blog) are Arduino and ESP8266. It seems that there is going ot be some upgrades to those platforms this year.

ESP32

ESP8266 chip is used to build  WiFi modules for serial-to-WiFi conversion and Internet of Things applicationsESP8266 turned to be IoT maker’s favorite component for a good reason: Espressif turned the IoT game on its head by releasing a chip with WiFi and a decent embedded processor for under $1 in bulk, and costing not much more than that in a module. A little more than a year ago, the ESP8266 WiFi module showed up uneventfully in Seeed Studio’s store. During the year 2015 the ESP8266 turned to be success because it was “good enough” (it has it’s limitations) and price was cheaper than practically anything else in the market. Now it is widely available in various module formats (NodeMcu dev kit being my favorite for quick hacks) and supported by lots many programming tools.

Now Espressif looking to repeat the success of the ESP8266 with the ESP32, , that should be coming out in 2016. Espressif has been working on the next generation of powerful WiFi-enabled tiny, cheap systems for some time. They have their silicon ready and there are beta test kits already. The ESP32 Beta Units Arrive article tells that are two Tensilica L108 processors running at up to 160MHz, a lot of peripherals including ADCs, DACs, I2C, SPI, I2S, and PWM, more RAM, AES and SSL for security, and Bluetooth Low Energy. WiFi has also been upgraded. It’s already shortlisted as the best new chip of 2016, but other than that, there’s not much more information.

While the features are great, Espressif has said the ESP32 is not a replacement for the ESP8266. They’re different markets, and if you just wanted to add WiFi to a project, there’s no reason not to choose the ESP8266.

ATmega328PB

Most Arduino boards, like for example well known Arduino UNO are based on ATmega328 micro-controller from Atmel (there are nowadays also many Arduinos that use different CPUs). It seem that with ATmega328 you never have enough peripherals for everything you might want to do.  Whether it’s hardware-driven PWM channels, ADCs, or serial communication peripherals, we always end up wanting just one more of these but don’t really need so many of those. Bye-bye ATmega328P, Hello 328PB! posting at Hackaday tells that  Atmel’s new version of the popular ATmega328 series, the ATmega328PB, seems to have heard our pleas. ATmega328PB combines 32kB ISP Flash memory with read-while-write capabilities, 1kB EEPROM, 2kB SRAM, 27 general purpose I/O lines, 32 general purpose working registers, five flexible timer/counters with compare modes, internal and external interrupts, two USARTs with wake-up on start of transmission, two byte-oriented 2-wire serial interfaces, two SPI serial ports, 8-channel 10-bit A/D converter, programmable watchdog timer with internal oscillator, a unique serial number and six software selectable power saving modes. The device operates between 1.8-5.5 volts. The ATmega328PB supports capacitive sensors: 24 buttons in self-capacitance mode, or up to 144 buttons in mutual-capacitance mode. This ATmega328PB does not native USB thing in it, so if you need USB support, look at the ATmega32U4 as used in Arduino Leonardo board.

So what does this mean for you? It seems that chips are shipping right now, and there’s an inexpensive dev kit available as well. If you write your own code in C,you should be pretty ready to use new feature. With Arduino you might need to wait until new chips find their way to Arduino boards (there does not seem to be DIP version you could plug to Arduino UNO socket) and support for it on Arduino IDE is added (unless you can hack it to it yourself).

Here is ATmega328PB chip pin-out from summary:

 

Atmega328PB

 

106 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ESP GPS NTP Serve
    A simple NTP server using GPS
    https://hackaday.io/project/28013-esp-gps-ntp-server

    Since creating some NTP based analog clocks I thought it would be handy to have a small accurate (GPS based) NTP server that could be deployed on the local network or as part of a stand alone network.

    I’m thinking about trying to use an esp8266 again. I switched to the esp32 because software serial at 9600 baud gave a lot of watchdog resets, not what you want in a time server. Software serial was needed because the esp8266 has only one usable UART and that is used for programming and debug messages.

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ESP32-DevKit
    http://www.raspberrypiwiki.com/index.php/ESP32-DevKit

    Geekworm ESP32-DevKitC is a low-footprint, minimal system development board which is powered by our latest ESP-WROOM-32 module and can be easily adjusted to a breadboard.

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Cheaper Single-Core ESP32 Module?
    https://blog.hackster.io/a-cheaper-single-core-esp32-module-53fa9c4143b5

    The single-core ESP32-S0WD finally has a module to call its own
    Despite initial rumours, the Espressif ESP32 was never supposed to replace their widely used, and much cheaper, ESP8266 chip. In just over four years, the ESP8266 has gone from an obscure Serial-to-WiFi module with no English documentation to one of the three biggest communities around maker hardware.

    Unfortunately, never intended for the many roles it was thrust into, the ESP8266 lacks basic features that make building a secure Internet of Things connected device using it practically impossible. The more capable ESP32 was designed to, amongst other things, solve that.

    Reply

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