Earlier today, the team at Espressif Systems, makers of the extremely popular and low-cost ESP32 family of wireless microcontrollers, announced the newest addition to the ESP32 lineup: The ESP32-P4.
This product announcement is interesting for a number of reasons. First off, It's powered by a dual-core RISC-V CPU running up to 400MHz, with an additional "LP-Core" running at 40MHz. And departing from the theme of the ESP32 family of devices, this one does not feature any RF functionality. Perhaps anticipating the reaction of their customer base struggling to find out what wireless protocols it supports, they specifically included the following text in their announcement:
If the application requires wireless connectivity, ESP32-P4 can easily connect, as a wireless companion chip, to any product of the ESP32-C/S/H series over SPI/SDIO/UART, by using the ESP-Hosted or ESP-AT solutions. ESP32-P4 can also function as the Host MCU for other connectivity solutions, such as ACK, AWS IoT ExpressLink, etc.
I find it to be an interesting choice that they included a mention of what it's lacking in their product announcement while also omitting a mention of an exciting feature that it does include: a MIPI I3C Peripheral. Not mentioned anywhere in the text of the announcement, it can be found in the HP Peripherals section of the SoC block diagram.
I'm personally quite thrilled with this announcement for several reasons. One is that it's great to see Espressif branching out into the high-performance MCU space, and the fact they have chosen to include I3C in their device is another big contributor to the excitement. The other thing that really makes this a big deal is that Espressif has a very large reach all the way down to startups, hobbyists, and enthusiasts, and have really embraced the community. As of now, many devices with I3C support are in devices that are inaccessible by folks not affiliated with a large company. It is highly likely that many folks will have their first exposure and opportunity to use I3C with this device when it hits the market.
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