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Esp32 vs Esp8266 — Buyer’s Guide

esp32 vs esp8266If you are interesting in computer hardware and are keen on coming out with our own products for end-used or even if you are an experienced person, then you have many reasons to find this article interesting and informative. We will get started by understanding something about ESP32.

This is a development board that is useful for students and others who are keen on developing a hardware product with their own efforts. ESP32 is the successor to ESP8266 and therefore there is naturally a comparison of ESP32 vs ESP8266.

There are some new features that seemingly make ESP32 a better product. However it would be a better idea to compare both and then decide as to which is better.

ESB8266 is a wi-fi microchip. It comes with a number of interesting features including TCP/IP stacking and microcontroller capability.

It is manufactured by Espressif Systems, Shanghai, China. It is considered to be one of the best SOC that has integrated TCP/IP protocol stack.

It has the capacity of hosting an application and can also offload various wi-fi networking functions that are available from another processor. In this article we will try and have a closer look at both the models and find out as to which is better ESP32 or ESP8266.

ESP32 vs ESP8266 2020

ModelIncludes 
Esp321 pcs
Esp82662 pcs
Stm322 pcs; ST-Link V2
We aim to show you accurate product information. Manufacturers, suppliers, and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer.

What Exactly is Espressif ESP32 Development Board?

ESP32As mentioned above, ESP32 was very extensively used by budding programmers and hardware experts. However, as technology moved on, changes were made and then we had ESP8266.

The ESP32 on its own comes with a number of new features. It would be pertinent to mention that it is capable of combining Bluetooth wireless capabilities with Wi-FI and it is also dual core.

You can either go in for full-feature board or standalone board. We will look at the major features and attributes of ESP32 and then find out as to how it performs.

Overall Features And Description

  • As far as wireless connectivity is concerned, ESP32 offers both Bluetooth and Wi-fi options
  • It also comes with Dual-Core Tensilica Xtensa 32-Bit LX 6 microprocessor
  • It has the capability of running at 160 or 240 MHz
  • The ROM size is 448 KB
  • SRAM size is 520 KB
  • It is capable of working on low power and the end users can make use of ADC conversions
  • Peripheral interface that is capable of capacitive touch
  • ADC built-in
  • Digital to analog converter
  • It also comes with UART or Universal Asynchronous Transmitter/Receiver
  • You also get pulse width modulation
  • It has interesting security features including hardware accelerators for SSL/TLS and AES

Why It is Popular?

There are obviously a number of good things about Esp32 that makes it quite popular amongst scores of young students and budding hardware professionals.

It finds quite a bit of use in various types of IOT projects. It is versatile and unique because it can make use of Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi options.

It comes with 32 bit processor that makes it quite fast and reliable in use. They are capable of supporting a wide number of protocols. These include I2C, UART, SPI, and much more.

They are available with wireless networking and this comes inbuilt. This certainly is a big take away and it sets the board apart from various other competitors’ products including Arduino.

It therefore is possible for users to control and also monitor the devices remotely using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

It would also be pertinent to point out that when one looks at GPIOs ESP32 has more of it when compared to ESP8266 and other such products in the market.

This is mainly because of the advanced multiplexing feature. This goes a long way in ensuring that multiple functions can be assigned to the same pin.

Why Should You Choose ESP32?

Though ESP8266 is also unique and has its own features, specialties and advantages, there are some special things about ESP32 that makes it quite popular amongst dozens of end users. From the SoC point of view, many believe that ESP32 is a much better choice.

It has a better technology and the end users can configure up to 8 different pins. Hence, when it comes to transition from deep sleep, ESP32 could be a much better option.

Further it also comes with 10 numbers of on-board pulse counters, 1 DAC, 8 ADCs and it also offers the best of built in support. It offers 10 touch pads and also 2 processor cores apart from a co-processor that operates on ultra low-power.

Further it also has the additional capability of addressing 16 MB of external flash without putting any strain on the resources of the unit. When all the above factors are taken into account.

Is It Recommended?

When all the above factors are taken into account, there are reasons to believe that it makes lot of sense to go in for ESP32 over other such boards that are available in the market. While the other boards are unique and good in their own ways and have some excellent features and facilities, it is quite obvious that ESP32 does have certain functions that towers over other brands and makes in the market.

For example when you decide to buy ESP8266 you get only 1 ADC and on the other hand you have 8 ADCs in ESP32, and this certainly is a very big and interesting takeaway.

Pros
  • To begin with it in improvement over ESP8266
  • It has many attractive features including capability to work both on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  • It has 8 ADCs when compared to just 1 in ESP8266
  • You also get 10 number of touch pads
  • It also comes with processor codes
  • Design and other such attributes are also quite good when compared to many other brands in the market
  • It also offers internet of things capabilities
Cons
  • The Bluetooth connectivity often creates problems according to a few users

ESP8266 NodeMCU for Arduino

ESP8266We will now have a look at ESP8266 and review it from various functions, features and other important attributes. There is no doubt that technology keeps moving rapidly whether we are with it or without it.

If you are looking for a high performing board with a number of interesting and unique features, then you perhaps have some reasons to know something more about this product. It is one of the few ardunio compatible modules in the market.

The good thing about this board is the Wi-FI chip and this is again supported by the best of TCP/IP capability. There is one big feature that separates this board from many other equivalent boards in the market.

The small, little board comes with a MCU chip integrated and this is liked by many end users. This, according to customers makes it possible to control input output pins using simple and pseudo-based programming language. Yes, this product is also from the stables of Espressif Systems, Shanghai, China.

Overall Features And Description

  • It comes with a 32 bit RISC CPU
  • You also get 64 KB of RAM along with 96 KB of data RAM
  • The external QSPI flash is capable of handling sizes in the range of 512 KB to 4 MB. In fact, it can support flash up to 16 MiB.
  • You also get balun, integrated TR switch, power amplifier and LNA
  • It also has 16 GPIO pin
  • You also can get PCB trace antenna. The antenna according to users has very good coverage.
  • It has only 2 GPIOs but it is possible to do some work around and make use of other MCUs pins. However, this would require the right soldering and other tools.

Why Should You Choose ESP8266?

There are some obvious reasons as to why it makes sense to go in for ESP8266. To begin with, students and beginners have a special liking for this board.

It has other features like built in microchip, ease of use, ease of writing programs and other such things that makes it quite a hit amongst beginners.

Is It Recommended?

Yes, there is no denying the fact that there are many reasons to recommend ESP8266 though it is lower in terms of certain technologies and functions. To begin with, it is perfectly suited for beginners and there are certain unmistakable advantages.

These include integrated TR switch and other such things. The PCB trace antenna is also another features that makes this different from others in the market. This apart, there are other factors too that continue to make ESP8266 still very popular amongst thousands of students and beginners.

Some advanced technicians and programmers also do not mind reposing their faith in this board.

Pros
  • It is ready to use and requires very little effort on installation
  • The examples of code and libraries of instructions are also factors that could be in favor of this board
  • The functioning is effortless and even the coding can be done easily by a beginner
  • Because it is an old product, it has a large community of users making it quite useful from the end-users points of view
  • It is suited for beginners and those who are getting into hardware for the first time
Cons
  • The structure of ESP8266 is a problem
  • During building a project you may have to make the structure as small as possible

Who is The Winner: ESP32 vs ESP8266?

Now that we have a reasonably good understanding of both ESP32 and ESP8266 the question is which the better option is or which is the winner? Giving a straight jacket answer to the question may not be possible. However, when we look at some features of ESP32, there could be reasons to prefer it over ISP8266. But this again depends on the end users and their specific needs and requirements.

It works both on Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity and this is a big takeaway. It certainly has a much better technology when compared to ESP8266. It comes with 10 number of touch pads. Further you also get processor codes.

Compared to ESP8266, the ESP32 is a big takeaway because it has 8 ADCs whereas the former has just one. It also offers IOT or Internet of Things capabilities.

Power Consumption: ESP32 vs ESP8266

Overall, the ESP32 is more powerful than the ESP8266. It consumes only 5 µA in its lowest power setting compared to the 20 µA consumed by its predecessor.

STM32 Development Board

STM32It also would be a good idea to have a closer look at STM32. This is a product from ST Microelectronics. Let us look at some of the features so that readers are able to compare it with other such products in the market today.

Overall Features And Description

The packaging allows a quick running with the help of pre-loaded firmware. This ensures that the board is working fine. You also get many supported too chains and information about system requirements.

You require only a type A USB that can be connected to a mini-B cable. Further, you also need a spare USB port in case you are using it on a PC. It runs well on windows platform. You can purchase tool chains from IAR, Atollic and Keil.

The Main accessories and specifications:

  • Microcontroller has an ARM cortex-M3 core along with thumb-2 32-bit instruction set
  • 128 K bytes flash memory
  • On-chip RC oscillator
  • 8K bytes Ram
  • It runs on single supply ranging from 2V to 3.6 V
  • It can offer up to 24 MHz operation
  • The input output pins are intelligently multiplexed with a number of internal peripherals
  • The microcontroller belongs to a part of the STM32F1 mainstream series
  • The board feature ST-Link capabilities
  • The board also has two programmable LEDs and the same can be programmed by users
  • It also has two internal RC oscillators
  • The board also comes with a number of solder-bridge connector and the same can be soldered, desoldered or closed
Pros
  • It has a larger eco system when compared to other such brands
  • The resources available with STM32 are also more
  • When you have to handle tough and complex projects the eco-systems and resources do come in very handy
  • STM32 has amazing speed and therefore you can be sure that all the projects can be handles quite rapidly and with very little waste of time setting up resources
  • You also get to enjoy a great graphical tool by the name STCube
  • This is suitable for HAL drivers and it does help to generate the right start-up code as far as your project is concerned
  • The integrated circuits are of much better quality when compared to other options
  • It comes with 2 12C buses against 1 in some major brands. 2 12C buses against 1 in some major brands
  • You also get 10 analog channels in STM 32 vs eight in ESP32 and other major boards in the market
  • Another big takeaway is that you have 32 GPIOs compared to 24 in many major brands
Cons
  • The ADC resolution quality is better in some brands

ESP32 vs ESP8266 – FAQ/Buyer’s Guide

Can esp8266 replace Arduino?

Answering this question would perhaps be hypothetical and could also be judgmental and opinionated. However, having said this, we would like to put a few things in perspective.

We would like to mention here that the ESP8266 is perhaps better equipped to run user based programs. While Arduino is also capable of doing the same, it is not sure as to how efficiently and properly would it be able to do it.

The language used is also friendly and more popular as far as ESP8266 is concerned. The ESP8266 belongs to a better and more advanced technology.

It is perfectly suited for IOT or Internet of Things. When it comes to home automation and other such things it is quite obvious that Arduino has still quite a bit of catching up to do.

When it comes to programmable PWM frequency, there is no doubt that Arduino will not be able to replace ESP8266 or ESP32 over the next few years or even decades. This is mainly because the ESP8266 has a built-in PWW frequency call.

12C on any pins is not possible as far as Arduino is concerned. In fact, Arduino IDE needs ESP8266 to work properly and efficiently.

What is NodeMCU esp32?

When we talk about NodeMCU we are basically referring to an open source LUA based firmware. This is basically for ESP8266 Wi-FI SOC that is from the house of ESPRESSif, Shanghai China.

It uses on-module flash-based file system that works on SPIFFS. To implement NodeMCU one requires C language. This is layered using the Espressif ESP-IDF.

The support for ESP32 Wifi/Bluetooth for NodeMCU is still under progress and it might take some time before it actually happens.

How do I start esp32?

It is not too difficult to start ESP32 provided you go through the right steps. To begin with you have to Go to Tools and then access Board.

Once you are in board, you have to scroll down to the ESP32 section. Once you are there you must select the right name of the ESP32 board.

It could vary from user to user and you must be sure that you are selecting the right board. If the board is not available, then you may have some problems in starting ESP32 and you must take steps to ensure that the right board is identified from the list.

Once you are there the next step is to go to tools and access port now. Once you are there, you must select a COM port that is available.

Once you are through with this, the next step is to press the upload button. With this the process of starting ESP 32 should have been completed successfully.

In case it doesn’t start you may have to use some troubleshoot options and then set things right. It should not take much of time and there are quite a few options and tools available.

Conclusion

We are sure that the above would have given our readers some useful insight and some meaningful information about ESP32 and ESP8266. Each one has its own unique features and functions that one should bear in mind.

Both ESP32 and ESP8266 have their own pros and cons and special features and advantages. If you are looking for something more modern and more technologically advanced then ESP32 could perhaps be a much better option.

The onus of selecting the right board, at the end of the day, lies with the end users based on their specific needs and requirements.

Damon Coleman

Entrepreneur, robotics fan. I have a Diploma in Technical Education, interested in robotics. My favorite platforms are Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Welcome to the world of robotics!

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