IOT

ESP32-C3 Microcontroller From Espressif-A Complete guide

In 2014, Espressif released the ESP8266, then in 2016, the ESP32. ESP8266 facilitated simple connectivity use-cases with its Wi-Fi-only MCU, whereas ESP32 handled use-cases that required dual connectivity (Wi-Fi + Bluetooth/Bluetooth LE), significantly higher CPU power or strong security features. These two chips have become undisputed industry leaders in the IoT sector, powering a massive number of linked devices. In the meantime, the IoT market has not only grown in terms of features and cost expectations, but it has also become popular. 

As a result,  Espressif designed a new member to the delicate balance between features and price. Hence, for simple and secure connectivity applications, Espressif is introducing ESP32-C3.In this blog, we briefly discuss the basics of the ESP32-C3 MCU Module.

Need for ESP32-C3 MCU

Espressif has launched the ESP32-C3 microcontroller, a low-power, cost-effective single-core 32-bit RISC-V-based device that addresses the most frequent security concerns in cost-sensitive IoT devices. For easy and secure IoT applications, the new ESP32-C3 MCU includes 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE 5.0 connectivity. It has 22 programmable GPIOs with ADC, SPI, UART, I2C, I2S, RMT, TWAI, and PWM capabilities, as well as a 400KB SRAM that can run at 160MHz.

The ESP32-C3 tries to meet the most common requirements for linked devices. The following are the main characteristics that were taken into account when designing the ESP32-C3:

  1. Security: This is the most important matter to be considered. Even the cheapest networking solution must provide adequate security against common security risks.
  2. Bluetooth Low Energy availability: The availability of Bluetooth Low Energy is beneficial for improving user experience and field diagnostics.
  3. While price is crucial, so is the availability of enough memory for typical use-cases. It’s difficult to optimize apps for memory usage while keeping such memory-constrained devices in the field.

 ESP32-C3 MCU-In Detail

The ESP32-C3 is an open-source RISC-V-based single-core Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5 (LE) microcontroller SoC. It achieves the ideal cost-effective solution for connected devices by striking the proper combination of power, I/O capabilities, and security. The device’s availability of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5 (LE) connectivity not only simplifies configuration but also allows for a number of use-cases based on dual connectivity.

A 32-bit core RISC-V microprocessor with a maximum clock speed of 160 MHz is included in the ESP32-C3 With 22 configurable GPIOs, 400 KB of internal RAM, and low-power-mode support, it can facilitate many different use-cases involving connected devices. The MCU is available in a variety of configurations, including both integrated and external flash. It’s great for industrial and lighting applications because of its high-temperature support.

The ESP32-C3 assures that technologies like RSA-3072-based secure boot and AES-128/256-XTS-based flash encryption can be used to develop safely connected devices. The HMAC peripheral and the novel digital signature peripheral enable secure device identity for applications. Support for cryptographic algorithms in hardware guarantees high performance for secure communication both within a local network and with the Cloud.

The ESP32-C3 MCU is designed to meet the most common requirements for connected devices, including security, Bluetooth Cheap Energy, low cost, and enough memory. It addresses critical issues for improved security against many forms of attacks and includes features such as:

  1. Secure Boot: Secure Boot: To ensure that only trustworthy applications may be run on the platform, the ESP32-C3 uses the industry-standard RSA-3072-based authentication system. This feature guard against the execution of a malicious flash application. We recognize that a secure boot must be efficient in order for instant-on devices (such as light bulbs) to benefit from this functionality. The secure boot mechanism on the ESP32-C3 adds less than 100ms to the boot procedure.
  1. Flash Encryption: The AES-128-XTS-based flash encryption algorithm used by the ESP32-C3 allows the application and configuration data to stay encrypted in the flash. Encrypted application firmware can be executed on the flash controller. This not only safeguards sensitive data stored in the flash, but it also protects against runtime firmware updates, which are known as time-of-check-time-of-use attacks.
  1. Digital Signature and HMAC Peripheral: A digital signature peripheral on the ESP32-C3 may generate digital signatures with a private key that is shielded from firmware access. Similarly, the HMAC peripheral can construct a cryptographic digest with a secret that is not accessible through firmware. The digital signature peripheral preserves the device’s private key, which determines the device’s identity, and most IoT cloud services employ X.509-certificate-based authentication. Even in the event of software vulnerability attacks, this provides robust protection for the device’s identity.
  1. World Controller: The world controller is a new peripheral for the ESP32-C3. This creates two execution contexts that are completely separate from one another. This can be used to implement a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) or a privilege separation system, depending on the setup. If a job in the application firmware interacts with sensitive security data (such as the DRM service), the world controller can be used to isolate the execution.

Bluetooth 5 (LE) with Long-Range Support

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5 (LE) with long-range (LR) capabilities assist in the development of devices with increased coverage and usability. Bluetooth LE SIG Mesh and Espressif Wi-Fi Mesh are still supported by the ESP32-C3. Furthermore, the ESP32-C3’s excellent RF performance is maintained at greater operating temperatures.

Other Features of ESP32-C3 MCU

  • Supports 20 MHz, 40 MHz bandwidth in the 2.4 GHz band
  • Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM)
  • Simultaneous support for Infrastructure BSS in Station, SoftAP, or Station + SoftAP modes Note that when the ESP32-C3 family scans in Station mode, the SoftAP channel will change along with the Station channel
  • 22 × programmable GPIOs
  • Remote control peripheral, with 2 transmit channels and 2 receive channels
  • Power Management Unit with five power modes
  • Security: Secure boot, Flash encryption, 4096-bit OTP, up to 1792 bits for users, Random Number Generator (RNG), Digital Signature, etc.
  • Bluetooth LE 5.0 with Long-Range Support
  • Sufficient Memory
  • Mature Software Support

Block Diagram of ESP32-C3 MCU 

 The ESP32-C3 has 384 KB of RAM, which is about five times greater than the ESP8266 (80 kB). The CPU core is the major feature that sets the ESP32-C3 apart from other ESP32 or ESP8266 chips. The ESP32-C3 has a RISC-V CPU, unlike its predecessors, which used the Tensilica L106 or LX6/LX7 RISC processor. This means that the RISC-V toolchain’s compilers and other programs can be used with this core. Users of the ESP32-C3 will benefit from improvements to these compilers and related tools. It is not required for the community to start from scratch when it comes to creating.

Conclusion:

Hope this blog helps you to understand the basics of ESP32-C3 MCU. We, MATHA ELECTRONICS  will come back with more informative blogs.

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