ESP8266, the low-cost Wi-Fi chip

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Wireless module NodeMCU: Development board based on ESP8266

Wireless module NodeMCU: Development board based on ESP8266

The ESP8266 is a low-cost Wi-Fi chip with full TCP/IP stack and MCU (Micro Controller Unit) capability. This small module allows microcontrollers to connect to a Wi-Fi network and make simple TCP/IP connections using Hayes-style commands. The low price and the fact that there were very few external components on the module attracted many hackers to explore the module. This chip is perfect to start a new IOT (Internet of Things) project.

The ESP8285 is an ESP8266 with 1 MB of built-in flash, allowing for single-chip devices capable of connecting to Wi-Fi.

ESP8266 Module Wifi.

ESP8266 Module Wifi.


  • Power: 3.3V DC
  • 32-bit RISC CPU: Tensilica Xtensa LX106 running at 80 MHz(Both the CPU and flash clock speeds can be doubled by overclocking on some devices.)
  • 64 KiB of instruction RAM, 96 KiB of data RAM
  • External QSPI flash – 512 KiB to 4 MiB* (up to 16 MiB is supported)
  • IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
    • Integrated TR switch, balun, LNA, power amplifier and matching network
    • WEP or WPA/WPA2 authentication, or open networks
  • 16 GPIO pins
  • SPI, I²C,
  • I²S interfaces with DMA (sharing pins with GPIO)
  • UART on dedicated pins, plus a transmit-only UART can be enabled on GPIO2
  • 1 10-bit ADC


Software Development Kits

Espressif released a software development kit (SDK) that allowed the chip to be programmed, removing the need for a separate microcontroller. Espressif maintains two versions of the SDK — one that is based on RTOS and the other based on callbacks.

An alternative to Espressif‘s official SDK is the open source esp-open-sdk that is based on the GCC toolchain.  Another alternative is “Unofficial Development Kit”.

Other open source SDKs include:

  • NodeMCU: a Lua-based firmware.
  • Arduino: a C++ based firmware. This core enables the ESP8266 CPU and its Wi-Fi components to be programmed like any other Arduino device. The ESP8266 Arduino Core is available through GitHub.
  • MicroPython: a port of the MicroPython (an implementation of Python for embedded devices) to the ESP8266 platform.
  • ESP8266 BASIC: An open source basic interpreter specifically tailored for the internet of things. Self hosting browser based development environment.
  • Mongoose Firmware: An open source firmware with complimentary cloud service.



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