26 February 2021 Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
Since its release in 2016, the ESP32 microcontroller (MCU), with its integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, has powered millions of connected and smart devices. Additionally, with its dual-core 240 MHz MCU, memory expandability, and computing power, the ESP32 has enabled truly innovative applications, such as voice-interactive, audio, and predictive-maintenance devices based on machine learning, to name but a few.
Responding to the ever growing significance of AI, Espressif Systems announced the newest addition to its series of MCUs, the ESP32-S3, which has been specifically designed to address the needs of the AIoT market.
The ESP32-S3 is a dual-core XTensa LX7 MCU, capable of running at 240 MHz. Apart from its 512 KB of internal SRAM, it also comes with integrated 2,4 GHz, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy 5.0 connectivity that provides long-range support. It has 44 programmable GPIOs and supports a rich set of peripherals. Compared with the ESP32, it supports larger, high-speed octal SPI Flash, and PSRAM with configurable data and instruction cache.
Wi-Fi + Bluetooth LE 5.0 wireless connectivity
The ESP32-S3 supports 2,4 GHz Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) with 40 MHz of bandwidth. The Bluetooth Low Energy subsystem supports long ranges through a coded PHY and advertisement extensions. It also supports higher transmission speed and data throughput, with a 2 Mbps PHY.
AI acceleration support
The new device has additional support for vector instructions in the MCU, which provides acceleration for neural network computing and signal processing workloads. The software libraries for the abovementioned optimised functions will become available very soon, in the form of updates to ESP-WHO and ESP-Skainet.
Rich set of IO peripherals
The ESP32-S3 has 44 programmable GPIOs, which is 10 more than the ESP32. It supports all the commonly used peripherals, such as SPI, I2S, I2C, PWM, RMT, ADC, DAC and UART, SD/MMC host and TWAI. In total, 14 GPIOs can be configured as capacitive touch inputs for HMI applications. The MCU is also equipped with an ultra-low-power (ULP) core that supports multiple low-power modes in a variety of such use cases.
The device meets all the necessary security requirements for building securely connected devices, without requiring any external components. It supports AES-XTS-based Flash encryption and RSA-based secure boot. In addition, it has a digital signature peripheral and an HMAC module, which provide functionality that is similar to the hardware secure element, thus protecting the private or symmetric key from software attacks and identity theft. It also has a ‘World Controller’ peripheral that provides two fully isolated execution environments, which enable the implementation of a trusted-execution environment or a privilege-separation scheme.
Mature software support
The ESP32-S3 is supported through Espressif’s popular ESP-IDF platform that already powers millions of devices on the market. ESP-IDF comes with rigorous testing, regular updates and an enviable support policy. Based on ESP-IDF’s mature software architecture, developers can easily build applications anew or migrate their own applications to the ESP32-S3 platform, and continue working with the trusted ESP-IDF tools and APIs.