Adafruit has unveiled its fourth ultra-compact QT Py microcontroller development board, this time based around the Espressif ESP32-S3 system-on-chip — offering a dual-core processor, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), and native USB.
"This is a swap-out of the ESP32-S2 QT Py for the new ESP32-S3 chip," Adafruit's Phillip Torrone explains of the company's latest entry in the burgeoning QT Py stable. "The S3 is really a nice piece of kit – dual core is back and it also re-adds BLE. It’s basically an ESP32 with native USB, we’re looking forward to it!"
The new board has been unveiled only a month after initial models of the ESP32-S2 on which it is based went through bring-up, which in turn followed a variant built around the Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller. The original QT Py, meanwhile, packed a Microchip SAM D21 — and, as you might expect, all four models use the same footprint and pinout regardless of microcontroller chosen.
That doesn't mean the ESP32-S3 was a drop-in replacement for the ESP32-S2, though. "Note that the S3 chip looks a lot like the S2 but the chip pinout is NOT the same," Torrone warns. "The reset and some power pins have moved, and some GPIO [General Purpose Input/Output pins] shifted down one. Also, looks like the dual DAC [Digital to Analog Converter] was removed. Anyways, just watch out: Don’t think you can use the exact same layout. We had to shift a few parts but it all still looks like it fits!"
The resulting board design is identical on the top to the ESP32-S2 QT Py, while the bottom is similar but with relocated passives to fit the chip's shifted pinout. The ESP32-S3, meanwhile, brings a dual-core Xtensa LX7 processor running at up to 240MHz, 512kB of static RAM (SRAM), 384kB of flash storage, and vector instructions for tinyML acceleration plus an ultra-low-power coprocessor built into the real-time clock block.
Adafruit has confirmed it is now entering the prototyping stage, but did not indicate when the boards would arrive for sale — nor at what price. More information is available on the Adafruit blog.