ESP32-C5: Espressif’s first Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 MCU

Espressif Systems recently launched it’s new Wireless SoC ESP32-C5, an MCU with 2.4Ghz and 5 GHz dual-band Wi-Fi 6, along with Bluetooth 5 (LE).

The ESP32-C5 is second member of Espressif’s Wi-Fi 6 SoCs Series, the first one was the ESP32-C6 SoC, which was announced in 2021.

ESP32-C5: Espressif’s first Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 MCU 1
Image Credit: Espressif

ESP32-C5 has a dual-band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) radio, along with the 802.11b/g/n standard for backward compatibility. 

The Wi-Fi 6 support is optimized for IoT devices, as the SoC supports a 20MHz bandwidth for the 802.11ax mode, and a 20/40MHz bandwidth for the 802.11b/g/n mode.

ESP32-C5 is based on a 32-bit, RISC-V, single-core processor with clock speed up to 240 MHz.

It has a 400KB SRAM, 384KB of ROM, and it works with external flash.

It has more than 20 programmable GPIOs, supporting all the commonly-used peripheral(UART, ADC, PWM, etc.) and the best-in-class security features.

Also included is an SDIO 2.0 Slave interface in order to interface SD Card.

ESP32-C5: Espressif’s first Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 MCU 2
Image Credit: Espressif

Advantage of 5GHz Band

  • The support for the 5GHz band provides customers with a more stable and low-latency wireless connectivity in cases where less traffic and lower interference are needed for critical applications. 
  • 2. It gives end-users the option of assigning different IoT devices to different networks, according to the criticality of the devices in hand.
  • 3. The 5GHz band also supports hosts of high throughput applications, such as live-streaming devices, Wi-Fi dongles, IP Cameras, etc.
  • 4. By integrating a dual-band connectivity into their devices, customers may enjoy maximum flexibility, while future-proofing their solutions.

The 802.11ax standard (Wi-Fi 6) used in ESP32-C5 contains a variety of added features which provide concrete benefits for IoT devices. 

ESP32-C5 supports the OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) mechanism for both uplink and downlink communications, as well as the MU-MIMO capability for downlink.

Both of these features enable high efficiency and low latency in congested wireless environments, while also improving connectivity in high density environments.

Another important feature of the 802.11ax standard is the Target Wake Time (TWT), which allows devices to sleep for an extended time-period, with assistance from an 802.11ax-capable Wi-Fi access point. This feature makes possible the use of ESP32-C5 in battery-operated devices that can last for years, while staying connected non-stop.

ESP32-C5 is supported on Espressif’s open-source ESP-IDF, which already powers millions of devices in the field. This ensures the availability of a rugged SDK and tools, as well as it will be easy for existing application migration from other ESP32 variant to ESP32-C5.

If someone wants to use ESP32-C5 just as a communication module, then ESP-AT and ESP-Hosted SDKs can be used along with external Host controller (MCU/MPU) interfaced over UAR, etc.

If you want to know more about ESP32-C5, please contact Espressif customer support team.

It is not clear as of now how soon ESP32-C5 SoC will be available and at what cost but I can expect that it will atleast take 6 months to 12 months.

Although not mentioned, we will expect ESP32-C5 modules and Dev kit, compatible with other module and boards.

One thing I was expecting other than Dual Band Wi-Fi was more IOs, for example: whenever I have used ESP32 SoC or Module in a custom embedded product development, most of the time, I had to use some external IO expander as the no of IOs available on SoC were not enough.

I really hope in the future we will see more Espressif SoC with more GPIOs and USB Host, etc. as standard features.

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