Many users prefer the ESP32 when implementing WiFi & Bluetooth into their IoT projects. But Ai-Thinker BW16 offers dual-band WiFi 4 & Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity through Realtek’s RTL8720DN chipset which may provide more reliable connectivity where the 2.4 GHz band is crowded.
The module integrates an Arm Cortex-M4F compatible high-performance MCU, an Arm Cortex-M0 compatible low power MCU, WiFI 802.11 a/b/g/n, MAC, Bluetooth and RF baseband, and provides a set of configurable GPIO ports to control peripheral devices.
One significant difference between BW16 and ESP32 module is that it has two serial port interfaces, so attention should be paid to the wiring of the UART interfaces. The following diagram shows the two serial interfaces of the BW16 module.
One of the module serial interfaces is used to send and receive AT commands to control connectivity from a host processor or microcontroller, while the other serial port is used for logging and debugging, printing logs, and downloading firmware The second interface is clearly shown with LOG_TX and LOG_RX pins on the module.
BW16 development board
Ai Thinker provides a development board fitted with BW16 dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth LE module that provides access to I/Os via expansion header, and the AT command serial interface through a micro USB port.
The secondary LOG serial port is also accessible as shown in the figure above in order to print debug messages and/or download the firmware.
Ai Thinker’s dual-band module can be used in various applications including manufacturing, the Smart Home, Smart Agriculture, as well as in the hospitality sector.
Do you have any projects that may benefit from the BW16 module’s features? If so, please contact us by email at [email protected], and/or follow us on LinkedIn to get the latest news about our latest wireless modules.
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Biggest problem is that this thing doesn’t run esphome (because it’s no ESP!)
Sorry to hear that, but different series of products have their different characteristics
I’m contemplating a port of ESPHome to the RTL chips (RTL8710, RTL8720), if I can only find a decent development environment. Mostly, that means PlatformIO support, whether Arduino-based or not. ESPHome now supports building with ESP-IDF rather than Arduino frameworks, so adding e.g. mbed should not be insurmountable.
I have already done a demonstration port of ESPHome to STM32 devices (Blue Pill, Black Pill), which wasn’t horrible. But that was based on the existing STMDuino Arduino port.
Anything about the dev environment?
Yes sure. The development environment for 8720DN, but it needs to sign the NDA with Ai-Thinker first, then can get the details.
Anything that requires an NDA is likely to remain niche, in my opinion. I’m not sure how many RTL87x0 chips Realtek is selling, compared to Espressif, but the barrier to entry is MUCH higher if you require an NDA.
Also, the rate of improvement is likely much lower in NDA toolchains.
Ahh, this is a commercial development only type of platform, then. As a hobbiest that’s disappointing, but, having been a commercial developer before, I do understand the different worlds and their limitations.
Absolute show stopper. The reason esp’s selling in mass (ai thinker knows this) is because it’s as open as it can be and does allow the user to really own it which includes running it’s own firmware on it and for example extend the functions or repair broken stuff. This piece here on the other hand will still be lying in the shelf in a couple of years and then just end up in the trash. Sad the energy on such things is wasted and manufactures not just doing things right (for their own business!) and go an aggressive open… Read more »
No Tasmota, no dice. Tasmota on ESP8266/ESP32 is awesome, so that’s a high bar. Realtek needs to sponsor or contribute code to a couple of open source projects to make their devices more attractive and usable.
If it uses the same sdk as the 8710 then its a real mess, that was thrown together freeRTOS with mbed parts.
This might help
So how does it compare to an esp32?
Couldn’t possibly judge without FACTS, right?
Sorry but for facts you need to sign a NDA and keep your mouth shut afterwards