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Ameba vs. ESP8266

In recent years, Maker applications have created more and more opportunities to use wireless communications, and most of them are Wi-Fi. It is based on Arduino in the past , they are adding a Shield to realize the Wi-Fi function, if it used frequently, and it is not convenient to take the way , so they have to consider the development board with Wi-Fi function.

The recent highly anticipated ESP8266, under some conditions, comply with such requirements, ESP8266itself is a Wi-Fi transceiver chip, and with a simple pin, low price, in addition to network programmers have written it compatible with Arduino syntax, integrated development environment program,so it rapid growth.

In fact, not onlyESP8266, more and more development board has the function of Wi-Fi, such as Arduino Arduino derived Yun, MediaTek proposed LinkIt ONE, LinkIt Connect, LinkIt Smart, and also Realtek Ameba  launched at the beginning of year.

The Wi-Fi development board is divided into three orders of magnitude

Although many development board with Wi-Fi, but the author thinks, the hardware resources and the operating system as for the difference, to program memory capacity, less than 16MB, even only in 512KB and 1MB capacity, generally only small operating system, using special such as FreeRTOS, it is lightweight.

in  the above 16MB , below 512MB , is suitable for the embedded Linux operating system in middle order, the most typical is the OpenWRT, and more than 512MB, almost the same level can be used with the PC operating system (about 10 years ago, PC level) can use the PC operating system, such as raspberry pi Raspbian, which is based on Debian to modify Linux.


At present themiddle order is OpenWRT which based development board Arduino Yun off the record, also includes the new Arduino Tian or LinkIt Smart, MediaTek (7688), and the lightweight ESP8266 is common, but the Realtek launched Ameba, a new choice in the field after the Ameba is a lightweight, not have the ability to challenge ESP8266 .The author tries to compare each one weekly type, provide a perspective for the evaluation of reference information.

Hardware function comparison


In Core aspect, the Ameba uses the Cortex-M3 core,  frequency is 166MHz, ESP8266uses the Xtensa LX core, frequenciesis from 80MHz to 160MHz, even though the frequency is close,Ameba is better, The reason is quite extensive, Cortex-M series is the core in common use, desirable drivers, example programs for more, save the trouble of transliteration.(Porting).



The system main memory, ESP8266 Datasheet did not tell the specific SRAM capacity, some information is 160KB+16KB, but Datasheet is described in another point, ESP8266 operated by Station mode, a 36KB SRAM space for used by passenger. In contrast, Ameba is 512KB SRAM and retains about 120KB space for use by passenger.

In program memory (both of which are externally connected), ESP8266 offers 512KB for some different card vendors, some for 1MB, and Ameba is only for the official board, with a capacity of 2MB. As for program memory, how much space is available for creating passenger traffic after considering operating systems and related parameters? However, this may require another explanation, especially that ESP8266 has different software operation schemes, which are different from the original FreeRTOS or NodeMCU and Smart.js.


In the pin, Ameba provides 30 GPIO pins, ESP8266 only 12, but in the design of multiple pins, pins must be less available, so Ameba is 14, ESP8266 is only 8, part of the board industry leaving only 2 pins for passenger use, some even 0, completely not to use. The number of GPIO pins is too small, which has been a major weakness of ESP8266, and the GPIO number of most chips can exceed ESP8266.

In addition, Ameba I/O interface is also more, ESP8266 only 1 groups of UART, Ameba there are 3 groups, I2C has 4 groups, SPI has 2 groups, but in this respect, ESP8266 only has 1 groups.

Finally, compare the most important and important functions of Wi-Fi, Ameba and ESP8266 are 11n, single antenna transceiver design, but the specifications and functions are still competing with each other

For example, Ameba support HT40 (High Throughput 40MHz), can accelerate the transmission bandwidth of the channel to 40MHz, but ESP8266 is the lack of the support, therefore, in the general situation , ESP8266 is 8Mbps transmission rate, Ameba is 10Mbps ~ 20Mbps.

The above is rate when it not encrypted transmission case, if you open the encryption function, transmission rate must be checked. Regarding this, hardware accelerated Ameba main control chip circuit RTL8195AM itself has encryption, the encryption transmission can realize the SSL depletion, transmission faster, compared with ESP8266  it only implements SSL encryption in software mode, and the transmission rate is obviously reduced.

On the other hand, Ameba allows the use of 3 kinds of Wi-Fi antenna, PCB antenna, including printed circuit board type I-PEX/U.FL connector external antenna, and the typical external antenna, ESP8266 is for different card industry, can only choose PCB or I-PEX multi antenna antenna, and is mostly a board only provide an antenna, unable to switch.

It is worth noting that there are more and more opportunities to use more than 2 kinds of wireless communication technology in a guest ring, such as MediaTek LinkIt ONE (GSM/GPRS + GPS + Wi-Fi + BT), Arduino Tian (Wi-Fi + BT) and ESP32 (Wi-Fi + BT) all have more than 2 kinds of wireless communication capabilities,In addition to Wi-Fi, Ameba also has the NFC function and can do many identification related applications, and ESP8266 is also lacking in this area.


Based on the above, Ameba is better than ESP8266 in most hardware performance if it is based on FreeRTOS operation (and compatible Arduino development).The Ameba would be a better choice if there were no restrictions on volume or cost.

However, ESP8266 is so popular today, obviously there are other advantages of hardware specifications outside, such as low price, variety selection, use (including stability, power performance etc.) is not bad, the success of open source strategy, and flexible service mode, these factors made it rise, The Ameba would be a better choice if there were no restrictions on volume or cost.

However, today ESP8266 is so popular, obviously there are other advantages of hardware specifications outside, such as low price, variety selection, use (including stability, power performance etc.) is not bad, the success of open source strategy, and flexible service mode, these factors made it rise, also make it has become a serious rival to Dachang development board.

author:Lu xiangyang

Resource sources:https://makerpro.cc/2015/11/ameba-vs-esp8266/


1092663243Sep 03,2017 23:26 PMAdd Comment

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