2023 Year in review – Top 10 posts, statistics, and what to expect in 2024

It’s the last day and last article of the year, so we will look at some highlights of 2023, some traffic statistics on the CNX Software website, and speculate what interesting developments may happen in 2024.

Looking back at 2023

The semiconductor shortage that had happened since 2020 started to fade away in early 2023, and supplies for most electronics components and devices seem to be adequate at this time, so that was a bright spot this year, and hopefully, it will stay that way in 2024 despite geopolitical tensions.

We did not have any super exciting new Arm application processors from Rockchip, Amlogic, or Allwinner announced this year, although the Amlogic S928X penta-core Cortex-A76/A55 CPU started to show up in some 8K TV boxes. The launch of the Raspberry Pi 5 SBC with a Broadcom BCM2712 quad-core Cortex-A76 processor was probably the main highlight for Arm on this side of the Internet in 2024 as our Raspberry Pi 5 review showed it was two to three times faster than the Raspberry Pi 4, although not quite to the level of the Rockchip RK3588 boards. Talking about Rockchip, companies continued to churn out hardware based on Rockchip RK3566, RK3568, and RK3588 this year.

RISC-V news cores and processors continued to be announced in 2023 with the 2.5 GHz Sophgo SG2380 16-core SiFive P670 RISC-V AI processor, SiFive Intelligence X390 NPU and Performance P870 RISC-V core, GOWIN GW5AST FPGA + RISC-V SoC, Andes AX45MPV RISC-V CPU core with Vector Extension 1.0, Renesas’ first in-house 32-bit RISC-V CPU core, and the 1GHz HPMicro HPM64G0 RISC-V microcontroller among others. Albeit announced in 2022, the Linux-capable T-Head TH1520 and StarFive JH7110 RISC-V application processors were the stars of the year as they ended up being integrated into all sorts of boards, some of which we will cover below.

Intel Alder Lake-N processors were very popular x86 platforms in 2023, especially in mini PCs, but also SBCs, with the Intel Processor N100, but also others like the N95, N97, and Core i3-N305 thanks to their great price/performance ratio and low power consumption. We also noted some more powerful AMD and Intel processors find their way into tiny mini PCs or modules such as the Core i7-1360P Raptor Lake CPU in the Khadas Mind Premium, the Intel Core i9-13900H in the GEEKOM Mini IT13, or AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS in the Chatrey AM08 Pro mini PC. AMD also announced two new Ryzen Embedded series with the V7000 and V5000 families respectively for machine vision/robotics and networking/storage applications. Intel just introduced the 14th Gen Meteor Lake family that found its way into COM Express modules, SBCs, and mini PCs that should become available sometime in 2024.

Besides the Raspberry Pi 5 mentioned above, several other interesting new single board computers were introduced in 2023 notably on the RISC-V side with the StarFive VisionFive 2 that I tested with Debian 12 at the beginning of the year, ASUS Tinker V, the Lichee Pi 4A in Raspberry Pi form factor, the BeagleV-Fire providing a lower-cost platform for the Microchip PolarFire RISC-V SoC FPGA among others. The RISC-V software ecosystem is still a work in progress, and should further improve in 2024. Some other SBCs based on the more mature Arm or x86 architecture included the AAEON UP 7000 Intel N100 board, the low-cost ODROID-M1S SBC (RK3566), the Pi Zero-sized Radxa Zero 3W (RK3566), the Radxa ROCK 3B Pico-ITX board based on Rockchip RK3568 SoC, the Banana Pi BPI-M7 low-profile RK3588 SBC, Libre Computer AML-A311D-CC “Alta” SBC with Amlogic A311D AI processor and mainline software support, the first RK3588 SBCs with 32GB RAM such as the Orange Pi 5 series, and many others…

A range of microcontrollers was announced this year with Renesas launching the very first Arm Cortex-M85 microcontrollers with the RA8M1 and RA8D1 families, Espressif announced the ESP32-P4 dual-core RISC-V general-purpose MCU in January, but it’s not yet available, contrary to the ESP32-C6 and ESP32-H2 that ramped up nicely in 2023. The ESP32-S3 was not introduced this year, but I kept seeing new hardware or updates with the dual-core wireless AI microcontroller. Allwinner launched the R128 wireless audio SoC with a 64-bit RISC-V core, an Arm Cortex-M33 core, a HiFi 5 audio DSP, and WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, but I’ve yet to see it used anywhere. I’ve also noticed people (or is it just me?) seem to have stopped being interested in China-made alternatives to the ESP32 series. Some other notables launched included the first Nordic nRF54 Cortex-M33 wireless MCUs (first nRF54H20, then nRF54L15), Infineon PSoC Edge Cortex-M55/M33 microcontrollers, Silicon Labs FG28 for Sidewalk and other low-power wireless protocols, STMicro STM32H5 Arm Cortex-M33 MCU with a focus on security, and a few others.

Just like in 2022, we did not write that much about low-power standards like LoRaWAN or NB-IoT as there weren’t too many new solutions or I wasn’t made aware of them, and some items we covered included the STMicro ST87M01 LTE Cat NB2 (NB-IoT) industrial cellular module and WisDuo RAK11720 LoRaWAN and Bluetooth LE module based on the low-power Apollo3 Blue MCU.  What did start to take off is the Matter protocol for home automation with products from established global brands as well as the SONOFF MINIR4M Matter switch which we reviewed. UWB and WiFi HaLow mostly faded from the news, but we did start to see a few more radar solutions for human presence detection in a way that’s better than a PIR motion sensor from Seeed Studio, SONOFF, and others.

Top Ten Posts of 2023

Google Analytics data was used to find the 10 most popular posts of 2023 using pageviews as a metric. Here are the top ten posts of the year in reverse order:

  1. Espressif ESP32-P4 – A 400 MHz general-purpose dual-core RISC-V microcontroller (January 2023) – The first general-purpose (i.e. without any wireless support) microcontroller from Espressif generated some buzz
  2. SONOFF MINI Extreme (MINIR4) ESP32 WiFi smart switch can fit into most gang boxes (February 2023) – SONOFF MINIR4 is a tiny ESP32-based wireless smart switch that will fit into most gang boxes.
  3. ZBMINI Extreme Zigbee smart switch review with Home Assistant (February 2023) – The SONOFF ZBMINI Extreme looks the same as the SONOFF MINIR4, except for the color, but it relies on Zigbee instead of WiFi, and Paisit showed us how to use it with Home Assistant.
  4. Lichee Pi 4A RISC-V SBC takes on Raspberry Pi 4 with TH1520 processor (May 2023) – The Lichee Pi 4A was one of the first RISC-V SBC with a form factor and features similar to the Raspberry Pi 4 and people wanted to find out more.
  5. SOCORAD32 ESP32 walkie-talkie board also supports data communication (Crowdfunding) (January 2023) – That’s one unusual ESP32 device that works as a walkie-talkie for audio and text communication.
  6. T9 Plus is a low-cost pocket-sized Intel N100 mini PC with three HDMI ports, dual GbE (July 2023) – As mentioned above Intel Processor N100 mini PCs were popular in 2023, and it should come as no surprise that one of the news articles about it reached the top ten.
  7. Wokwi – An Arduino, Raspberry Pi Pico, and ESP32 board simulator (April 2023) – I discovered teachers in Thailand had an online course about ESP32 involved several hundreds of students at once, and instead of having to use actual ESP32 boards, students could use Wokwi to simulate the ESP32 in their web browser, as well as Raspberry Pi Pico and Arduino boards.
  8. GHLBD Android calculator mini review – An Allwinner A50-based Android 9.0 calculator (March 2023) – The GHLDB Android calculator is one of those devices that are mostly useful, but at the same time kind of cool, and something you want to have. Li Zexi got one in China and explained to us how to use and hack it.
  9. Install a server in your house, get free hot water! (February 2023) – A UK company had the innovative idea to fit a server to the hot water tank in houses to cool the server and provide hot water to the household, reducing the bills on both sides.
  10. Quiet, ultrathin AirJet solid state active cooling chips could replace fans (January 2023) – Nobody likes fans in laptops and mini PCs due to the noise and they may also act as dust collectors, but they are often necessary. AirJet cooling chips are innovative solutions to enable silent cooling in compact devices, although still quite pricey due to their novelty.

RISC-V, ESP32, and Smart Home solutions were popular in 2023, as well as unusual and/or innovative solutions. Last year, we did not get any reviews in the top ten, but two made it to the top ten this year. CNX Software tended to have a lot of traffic from Google Discover earlier in the year, and traffic from this mobile source slowly decreased as the year panned out which may explain why the most popular posts are almost from H1 2023.

CNX Software 2023 traffic stats

We published 874 articles in 2023 including that one, which compares to 881 posts in 2022, and the lower number can be partially explained because I took a two-month holiday in September and October. We did write quite a few more reviews since more Thai reviewers got involved, and Kajornsap published several robotics and laser engraver reviews, Paisit worked on Smart Home reviews, Nineporn published reviews related to LoRaWAN and HiFi audio, Arnon started with ESP32 hardware and then mostly switched to Arm Linux SBCs, Suthinee – our Thai editor – started to work on mini PC reviews, and a few others also joined us. Tomisin and Debashis also started writing news articles in December which should help me get more time to focus on reviews (and translations) on CNX Software.

Google Analytics went through some changes this year with a switch to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) instead of Universal Analytics used so far.  Some data may have changes in the process, but let’s try to get some statistics like in previous years starting with the top countries and cities.

CNX Software 2023 Top Countries Top Cities

GA4 does not provide percentages, but the United States remained at the top, followed by China (from Top 5 in 2022), and Germany stayed in third position. The UK dropped from P2 to P4, and India from P4 to P5. The top three cities were London, New York, and Singapore, or exactly the same as last year. Bangkok was dropped off the list and replaced by Los Angeles which made it to P9.

CNX Software 2023 ContinentsIf we look at the data in terms of continents, Europe is on top, closely followed by the Americas, and then Asia. No changes here compared to 2022.

CNX Software 2023 Traffic Browsers OSThe Chrome browser is still crushing the competition with Safari a distant second, and Firefox in third position like last year. Android, Windows, and iOS remain the top three OS of the website’s visitors. Linux was used by 5.5% of visitors, an improvement over the 4.1% recorded in 2022.

CNX Software 2023 stats Mobile Desktop Tablet

In 2022, most of the traffic came from mobile devices with a 67.24% share. But this year (2023), this equalized somehow with the drop in Google Discover traffic, and mobile traffic “enjoyed” a 54.2% traffic share, desktop traffic increased to 42.5%, tablets got about 3%, and smart TVs just 0.10% of the traffic.

Looking ahead to 2024

2023 was the year of the return to normality when it comes to the electronics supply chain, and hopefully, 2024 will stay that way. I’d expect RISC-V to ramp up with potentially the first Android consumer devices based on RISC-V processors later in the year, and more RISC-V SBC and devices coming online. Raspberry Pi will certainly not launch a new Model B SBC, but the Raspberry Pi 5 Model A and Raspberry Pi Compute Module 5 should be introduced sometime in 2024, as well as a new Raspberry Pi Pico board and RP MCU with some machine learning capabilities.

It may be quiet on the application processor front from companies like Rockchip, Amlogic, and Allwinner, although the first Cortex-A510 Armv9 processors (without big cores) could be introduced in 2024, notably the Amlogic S905X5 SoC for TV boxes. I would not expect new Arm processors with big cores from Rockchip or Amlogic, but Allwinner A736 (2xA76+6xA55) and A737 (2xA78+6xA55) might be launched in 2024 if there aren’t any delays. I had high hopes for the MediaTek Genio 1200 processor in 2023, and I reviewed ADLINK’s i-Pi SMARC 1200 development kit this year, but the SoC did not really take off due to the price and work-in-progress software support. Maybe 2024 will be a different story, and we might finally see more i.MX 9 solution as well.

In terms of mini PC news, I would not expect AMD to re-enter the low-end of the market, and Intel Alder Lake-N systems should remain popular, although I’m hoping for successors with similar pricing and power consumption and higher performance. Some companies will launch mini PCs based on the high-end 14th Meteor Lake processors and AMD Hawk Point Ryzen 8040 chips at the beginning of the year.

Espressif should finally launch the ESP32-P4 dual-core general-purpose microcontroller after announcing it one year ago, and potentially the ESP32-C5 WiFi 6 and Bluetooth MCU, plus various Matter solutions, which will likely be the focus of other silicon vendors who provide Smart Home solutions such as Silicon Labs and TI. WiFi 7 routers and devices should start showing in 2024, 5G IoT solutions should finally come to market, and I’m not quite sure what to think about the 802.11ah WiFi HaLow low-power long-range standard anymore…

I’m joined with some review samples from 2023 to wish everybody a very healthy, prosperous, and happy new year 2024!

CNX Software Happy New Year 2024

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ROCK Pi 4C Plus

18 Replies to “2023 Year in review – Top 10 posts, statistics, and what to expect in 2024”

  1. Much as expected.
    One thing you forgot that might have consequences is Intel dropping it’s very popular NUC line.

    1. I have to admit I didn’t think about it, but I’m not convinced it will have major consequences, as other companies like ASUS are taking over the NUC product line.

    1. The best of it is that it made GbE look like something of the past and 100 Mbps disappear. Both 1 and 2.5G are acceptable for most use cases nowadays, while 100M was already no longer acceptable 10 years ago 🙂 In that sense it’s quite a progress!

      1. If 2.5 GbE adds cents to the BOM cost (or nothing), let it turn 1 GbE into dust. Since it’s cable compatible. 100 MbE is a big yikes.

        10 GbE is more troublesome, not sure about 5 GbE.

        1. It’s important to leave two common speeds, this is what allows vendors to segment their market by proposing options or by having a cost-saving model which has “only” GbE. 5G and 10G are quite power-hungry however.

      2. 100Mbps has its uses. If you use it instead of 1Gbps you might find measurable energy savings.
        For IoT I’d certainly go for 100Mbps.

        1. In this case you can get the same savings just by configuring the link to 100M. One of the problems of 100M on a gigabit LAN is that it can very quickly cause your whole LAN to crawl due to flow control (or if you disable flow control, UDP-based services don’t work as soon as you fragment). I’d really say that 100M (native) must really die so that it no longer appears anywhere by accident, but users are perfectly aware of what they’re doing when configuring it.

        2. Well for such cases there should be the single wire ethernet, providing 250M over a single twisted pair

          Or also the broadcom proprietary @wirespeed 500M over 2 pairs

  2. Release a 6-core N205, Intel.

    While it’s not low-end, AMD’s Strix Point should make a splash in Q3.

  3. Wow, what a whirlwind of tech trends in 2023! It’s like a rollercoaster ride through the world of processors, SBCs, and microcontrollers. The easing semiconductor shortage brought a sigh of relief, didn’t it? From the speed demon Raspberry Pi 5 to the RISC-V frenzy and those intriguing Intel Alder Lake-N processors, it was a year of diverse innovations. The top posts reveal our collective fascination with ESP32, RISC-V, and clever solutions like the AirJet cooling chips. Huge kudos to the author for summing up this tech extravaganza! Thanks a ton for keeping us updated on these mind-boggling advancements. Looking forward to diving into the tech pool again in 2024!

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Khadas VIM4 SBC
Khadas VIM4 SBC