Today, we announce a strategic partnership with ESPRESSIF for supply of ground breaking and state of the art SoC.
Dear amazing Backers,
As this journey enters its final week, we finally let the cat out of the bag and confirm our choice of SoC supplier for the LoPy. In addition, we also want to share an update on our Asian trip.
First things first though. Thank you to all you great backers in over 56 countries whom have consistently supported us during the past 4 weeks. You have made LoPy a reality and it’s fantastic to see our idea come to life!
Our work with ESPRESSIF SoC
So, Daniel and I have been busy meeting our strategic manufacturing and supply partners in Shanghai and Shenzhen, 2 technology metropoles of South East Asia. Whilst we have some more work to do, we have made great progress including finalisation in appointing suppliers for our LoPy and other modules. I will try not to steal too much of Daniel’s thunder (mini blog below), however it gives me great pleasure in confirming that Pycom and Espressif have agreed a long term supply relationship for Pycom products. Our LoPy will be powered by their ESP32, a state of the art and future generation SoC.
Whilst this was a technical decision driven during the development phase of the LoPy, our choice was reinforced as a result of meeting up with Teo (founder) and the rest of the Espressif leadership team. Simply put, a World class organisation intent on revolutionising and pushing the boundaries of traditional SoC manufacturing! Reviewing their current and future product roadmap reaffirmed the knowledge that Espressif easily ranks as leader within their field. Seeing the delighted look on Daniel’s face during our technical discussions, it was clear he was getting very excited, so much so, he has insisted on putting it in words.
Daniel here, reporting from the Zhang Jiang Hi-Tech Park in Shanghai.
I wanted to tell you a story about the LoPy.
Our board was conceived around 8 months ago, and was initially a WiFi+LoRa only module, but after a month on the drawing table, we said to ourselves: "We have to make this the swiss army knife of IoT, so why not add Bluetooth into the mix?" Guess what? Challenge Accepted!
So, we began adding a BLE radio to our existing WiFi+LoRa PCB design, and it meant having to change the main SoC, accommodate a different RF front end, replace many passive components, completely rewrite hardware abstraction layer and spend a ton of hours debugging. But we were not afraid, so we went for it and built some prototypes. Sooner rather than later we were making serious progress and we were very happy about it, both with the WiFi and the BLE features.
Just when we thought that the picture was clear, the ESP32 beta testing program was announced, some of the specs were disclosed, and we couldn't help but fall in love with it. Since the timeline for the release of the new ESP32 was a bit unclear back then, we decided to go on and design the LoPy around Espressif's technology, but without stopping the developments on our previous board, therefore, for a few months the LoPy existed in two parallel universes… was it challenging? Oh yes, very much, but trust me, it was super fun and it was worth it!
Today we can announce that we have chosen a winner and it is the ESP32. The reason is quite simple: it’s the best. The ESP32 is truly a master piece, it is light years ahead of any other WiFi+BLE SoC in the market. Let's start with the fact that the Espressif guys have taken the "integrated circuit" term to the next level, so much, that internally they call the ESP32 a "Module on Chip” (MoC) instead of a "System on Chip (SoC)", and they couldn't be more right since most of the passive components that you would have had to place outside of the chip are already built-in. This has 2 big positive effects, the first is reducing the footprint of the PCB, and the second is that it eliminates almost completely the negative effects of tolerances. Every ESP32 chip is calibrated in the factory to compensate for the internal tolerances, but the best thing is that it is also able to auto-calibrate itself dynamically during its entire operating life, delivering maximum performance despite of the ageing effects.
Let's talk about it's multiprocessing capabilities... what can you do with 2 symmetric Xtensa cores running @160MHz? The right answer is: A LOT! and Espressif is working hard on the SDK to make sure that we can squeeze the most out of multiprocessing capabilities of the SoC, it’s rich set of peripherals, the Bluetooth and WiFi networking capabilities. Best of all, use of this SoC works well with our production timelines so no worries regarding supply dates.
We cannot reveal many more details because most of the info is still under NDA, but we have spent some quality time at the Espressif offices in Shanghai and they are committed to give us full support so that we can get all the juice out of the ESP32 and make it available to you, through a beautiful and simple (yet powerful) Python API. Espressif has the goal of making IoT simple and feature rich. At Pycom we happen to share the same vision... As Leonardo da Vinci once said: "Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication"
Asia Trip Update
Whilst we are not ready to push “GO” on LoPy manufacturing, we thought you would like to see the manufacturing facility where the modules will be manufactured. Here we have a shot of the WiPy’s from the same assembly unit where the LoPy boards will be made in July 2016.
We have now reached short of 200% of our financial target and very much hope still to see the first University Gateway’s attained! The number of countries now totals 56 with some 1115 backers.
Arduino IDE compatibility coming up next!
Post campaign pricing
We thought it would be worth reminding all backers that now is the time to remind your chums to get the lower Kickstarter LoPy pricing. Post campaign the RRP will go from €29 to €34 + VAT (€40). Please pass the message on to any other friends/hackers!
That’s it from us for the time being.
Thank you once more and catch up soon.
Fred, Daniel and the Pycom Team