ESP32-C2 WiFi & Bluetooth LE 5.0 chip to support Matter WiFi protocol

Espressif ESP32-C2 is a new WiFi 4 and Bluetooth LE 5.0 chip the Shanghai-headquartered company has been working on since last year. The company claims it has better RF performance due to a smaller package reducing stray parasitics, and it will support the Matter protocol whose first version should become ratified later this year.

The first ESP32-C2 product wafers have been received by the Shanghai team in spite of the current lockdown and quarantine in Shanghai due to the COVID-19, and teams in other parts of Asia, Europe, and Singapore are working without interruption on software integration into ESP-IDF and ESP-RainMaker.


ESP32-C2 preliminary specifications:

  • RISC-V core
  • 272KB of memory
  • Connectivity
    • WiFi 4 + BLE 5.0
    • Tx power
      • 20 dBm (FCC limit)
      • 18 dBm for 802.11N MC7 packets (72.2 Mbps)
    • Receiver sensitivity – -97 to -100 dBm for 1 Mbps 802.11B packets.
    • Receive current – 58 mA
  • Package –  4 x 4mm package

The ROM code is said to be optimized to reduce the need for flash, but no details were provided. The Tx performance of an ESP32-C2 client device is similar to that of single antenna routers, and it can transmit as much output power as a typical router, leading to reduced transmission times and improved connection quality when several devices are in the vicinity. Espressif says those improvements will also show in the upcoming ESP32-C6 WiFi 6 and BLE 5.2 IoT chip that is now slated for launch in Q3/Q4 2022.

The announcement on Espressif blog did not mention the CPU architecture at all, but we won’t have to guess in the future since all subsequent Espressif chips, including ESP32-C2, will be based on RISC-V architecture according to a Tweet by John Lee, who also tells us to expect quad-core RISC-V chips in the not-so-distant future. Does that mean Espressif is going to manufacture router/gateway chips? I don’t know. But four cores sound overkill for a client device. We’ll see.

While the Matter protocol is often associated with low-power wireless standards like Thread and Zigbee, it also works with Ethernet and WiFi, and Espressif expects Matter WiFi to drive the early adoption of the new protocol due to the existing base despite shortcomings such as relatively high power consumption and the lack of mesh networking capabilities.

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