RISC-V-Powered Espressif ESP32-C6 Brings the Company's First Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax Connectivity

Based on the ESP32-C3, the new ESP32-C6 adds Wi-Fi 6 connectivity — tweaked, Espressif notes, specifically for the IoT.

Espressif has announced a new entry in its ESP32 family of systems-on-chips (SoCs), and its first to offer Wi-Fi 6 connectivity alongside Bluetooth 5 Low Energy (BLE): the ESP32-C6 RISC-V-based chip.

Designed for devices that require wireless connectivity with integrated security, the ESP32-C6 is built around a single 32-bit core based on the free and open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA) and running at up to 160MHz. Alongside that is 400kB of static RAM (SRAM), 384kB flash ROM, support for external flash, and 22 programmable general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins supporting ADC, SPI, UART, I2C, I2S, RMT, TWAI and PWM.

Wireless connectivity, meanwhile, includes Espressif's first 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 block, a major upgrade over the Wi-Fi 4 connectivity of the earlier ESP32-C3, which the company says it has tweaked for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. The chip supports 20MHz bandwidth in 802.11ax or 20/40MHz in 802.11b/g/n mode, supports a station interface, and boosts transmission efficiency and power consumption over Wi-Fi 6 equivalents.

Additional tweaks made to the Wi-Fi connectivity on the part include support for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) for both uplink and downlink connections, Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) for downlinks, and Target Wake Time — allowing 802.11ax-capable Wi-Fi access points to bring the device out of an ultra-low power deep sleep mode.

The new part also includes Bluetooth 5 Low Energy (BLE) connectivity and a security block which includes hardware acceleration for SHA and AES plus a hardware random-number generator, HMAC and digital signature system,, RSA-3072 secure boot, and support for encrypting flash content through XTS-AES-128.

Espressif has not yet published documentation nor pricing for the part, but advises interested parties to contact the company through its sales query form for more information.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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