Over the last few years, we’ve seen several Arm based WiFi IoT modules trying to compete with Tensilica based ESP8266 including Pine64 PADI IoT Stamp and Air602 WiFi IoT modules with similar functionalities and price (around $2) as the Espressif modules.
I have not seen many projects with any of those Arm based wireless modules, likely because Espressif Systems software ecosystem is mature, and it’s hard to compete for new entrants. Nevertheless there’s a new Arm WiFi IoT module, not based on Cortex-M core, but instead, MXCHIP EMW3060 is equipped with an older ARM9 core, 256KB RAM, and 2MB flash, and sells for just $1.79 on Seeed Studio in single quantity. The price further drops to $1.55 per unit if you order 50 pieces or more.
MXCHIP EMW3060 WiFi IoT module specifications:
- ARM9 core clocked at 120 MHz
- System Memory – 256KB SRAM
- Storage – 2MB flash
- Connectivity – 2.4GHz radio, 802.11 b/g/n WiFI, HT/40, support Station, Soft AP, and station+Soft AP modes
- Power Management Chip
- Antennas – PCB antenna and u.FL connector
- I/Os – Via holes and castellated holes with 2x UART, 2x I2C, 1x SPI, 1x SDIO, 1x USB, 15x GPIOs, and JTAG.
- Misc – 26 MHz oscillator
- Supply Voltage – 3.3V input (3.0 to 3.6V range)
- Dimensions – 33 x 18 mm (DIP package)
- Temperature Range – -20℃ to +85℃
One potential advantage I can see is built-in support for USB in EMW3060 module since it’s missing in ESP8266. USB support can also be emulated by software in ESP8266 but it’s rather slow.
There’s some hardware documentation on Seeed Studio page including the pinout diagram, mechanical dimensions, and link to EMW3060 datasheet, but software documentation is a little harder to find. The official MXCHIP’s product page has links to the AT command set, Easylink SDK for Android & iOS, and some info about MXKit development kits for the company’s modules.