The Arduino GIGA R1 WiFi Aims to Bring Portenta H7-Like Power to the Mega and Due Form Factor

New board comes in cheaper than the Portenta H7 Lite while still boasting a tinyML-friendly dual-core asymmetric processor.

The Arduino team has announced a new board, aimed at the Internet of Things (IoT) and on-device machine learning, which takes the Mega and Due form factor but packs in more power than ever before: the Arduino GIGA R1 WiFi.

"Today we’re announcing the GIGA R1 WiFi," the company says of its latest launch. "Bridging you from great fun to amazing performance, it opens the door to infinite possibilities in robotics, IoT, music, computer vision, digital fabrication, and any kind of projects involving machines, interfaces, and real-time processing."

On the surface, the Arduino GIGA R1 WiFi looks remarkably similar to the Arduino Mega and Due family. At its heart, though, beats a very different beast: an STMicro STM32H747XI dual-core asymmetric system-on-chip which combines a high-performance Arm Cortex-M7 core running at up to 480MHz and a Cortex-M4 core running at up to 240MHz, plus 1MB of static RAM (SRAM) and 2MB of flash storage. A Murata 1DX chip provides Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, too, while a USB Type-A connector can be used to host external USB devices.

"The dual-core microcontroller […] allows you to run two Arduino programs simultaneously – or, why not, an Arduino program and a MicroPython one," the Arduino team explains. "With this architecture, you can separate higher-level logic such as displays, interfaces, and networking from time-critical tasks such as motor control. It's the perfect tool for artists, gamers, sound designers, researchers and more, to step up their game, level the playing field, and add power to their play."

Elsewhere on the board are a generous 76 digital input/output pins, with 12 supporting pulse-width modulation (PWM) and 12 analog input pins across two DACs. There are four UART, three I2C, and two SPI buses in hardware, plus CAN bus support with the addition of an external transceiver. The Arduino GIGA R1 WiFi also includes two new pins, not seen on its Mega and Due predecessors: a VRTC pin to keep the real-time clock ticking when main power is removed and an OFF pin which shuts down the board. Finally, there's a USB Type-C connector for data and power, a 3.5mm input/output jack for analog audio, a JTAG connector, and a 20-pin connector for Arducam camera modules plus dedicated display pins.

Those looking to take advantage of the new board's potential are advised, however, that it's not a direct drop-in replacement for Arduino Mega and Due boards. While the pin-out has been kept the same, with additional pins placed in the middle, the Arduino GIGA R1 WiFi uses 3.3V logic — though it can be powered from supplies offering 6-24V DC, up from the 12V maximum of the older boards.

The Arduino GIGA R1 WiFi is now available to order on the Arduino Store, priced at $72.82 — nearly twice the price of an Arduino Mega 2560 Rev3 or Arduino Due, but noticeably cheaper than the Arduino Pro Portenta H7 Lite Connected which shares the same wireless connectivity and dual-core STM32H7 microcontroller.

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