SparkFun Expands Its Thing Plus Range with a New Edge AI Ready ESP32-S3 Model

Featuring machine learning and artificial intelligence acceleration, Espressif's ESP32-S3 finds a home in this latest Thing Plus dev board.

SparkFun has announced a new entry in its Thing Plus range of development boards, this time built around the Espressif ESP32-S3 — and offering features of us in edge artificial intelligence (edge AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) projects.

The chip at the heart of SparkFun's new Thing Plus was unveiled by Espressif three years ago, offering features targeting on-device tiny machine learning (tinyML) and edge artificial intelligence (edge AI) workloads. Designed prior to the company's move to the RISC-V architecture, it includes two Tensilica Xtensa LX7 cores running at up to 240MHz, with 2MB of pseudo-static RAM (PSRAM) and 4MB of flash storage on the ESP32-S3-MINI module chosen by SparkFun for the board. It also includes CPU extensions and hardware accelerators designed to boost machine learning workload and security task performance.

21 of the 45 total programmable general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins available on the ESP32-S3-MINI module are brought out to breadboard-friendly headers on the SparkFun Thing Plus, including up to four SPI, two I2C, two I2S, and three UART buses. There's an LCD interface for an external display, up to eight pulse-width modulation (PWM) channels, a TWAI controller compatible with CAN 2.0, and USB 2.0 Full Speed On-The-Go (OTG) capabilities.

For IoT connectivity, the board includes single-band 2.4GHz Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 Low Energy (BLE) radios, with a PCB antenna, while a microSD slot provides local storage. There's support for an optional battery, charged via a Microchip MCP73831 and monitored via an Analog Devices MAX17048 accessible over I2C, and a four-pin Qwiic connector for solderless connection to external breakout boards — and a user-addressable RGB LED is included to the board's top corner, as an added bonus.

The SparkFun Thing Plus ESP32-S3 is now available to order on the company's store, priced at $19.95 before volume discounts.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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