Realtek RTL8710 could eventually become a serious competitor to ESP8266, as it’s based on ARM Cortex M3, provides many of the same features, and sells for roughly the same price. While currently software support is still work in progress and community is very small, I’ve recently written a quick start guide using AT commands to control RTL8710 connectivity in station and access point mode, and commands are also available for GPIO, OTA firmware updates, servers… This however requires some soldering and a USB to TTL debug board, and is not quite as convenient as ESP8266 board like NodeMCU. Some RTL8710 and RTL8195 development boards are already available but they cost over $25, but I’ve been informed of a cheap no-name RTL8710 board with a micro USB port for programming and power, and well as headers with GPIOs, UARTs, NFC, and power pins, that looks somewhat similar to ESP8266 Witty board.
RTL8710 “Witty” development board specifications:
- WiSoC – Realtek RTL8710 ARM Cortex M3 MCU with 802.11 b/g/n connectivity
- Serial to TTL Chip – CH340G
- Expansion headers – 2x 13 pin with GPIOs, I2C, UART, SPI, NFC, and power signals (5V, 3.3V, GND)
- Misc – RGB LED, temperature sensor, photo resistor, and button
- Power – 5V via micro USB port, 3.3V via header
- Dimensions – TBD
I’ve asked one Aliexpress seller whether it would be breadboard compatible, but they did not manage to answer my question. [Update: After estimating dimensions with pictures, it will most likely not be breadboard friendly]
They did try to help however, by first sending some software manual with AT commands, followed by schematics and PCB layout pictures, all of which you can find here.