WCH Launches a Sub-10¢ RISC-V Microcontroller, While a $6.90 Dev Board Gets You Started

Designed for less-computationally-demanding workloads, this 32-bit RISC-V chip is priced extremely aggressively.

Gareth Halfacree
a month agoHW101

WCH Electronics has launched a new, low-cost RISC-V microcontroller chip running at up to 48MHz and which is priced in volume at less than 10¢ per unit — and the first development board to feature the part has already hit the market.

Based on an implementation of RV32, the 32-bit version of the free and open source RISC-V architecture, which the company is calling 'RISC-V2A", the WCH CH32V003 family offers a clock speed up to 48MHz, 2kB of static RAM (SRAM), 16kB of flash storage, and between six and 18 interrupt-capable general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins with one USART, one I2C, and one SPI bus plus up to eight channels of 10-bit analog to digital conversion (ADC).

While the performance of the part for general computational workloads might not set the world aflame, WCH is pricing the part aggressively. According to WCH technical director Patrick Yang, in a post first spotted by CNX Software, the chip will sell for under 10¢ per unit in unspecified quantities — making it one of the cheapest general-purpose microcontrollers around.

The first development board built around the CH32V003 to hit western markets comes from Maker go, based on Shezhen, which has announced a compact design built around the CH32V003F4P6 variant with USB Type-C connectivity for data and power and with GPIO and power pins broken out along three sides — using, sadly, double-row headers, making it incompatible with breadboards without the use of flying wires.

The board is now available to order on Tindie for $6.90, though once the chips start making their way into the sector en-masse the price of entry-level development boards will likely fall rapidly given the low cost of chip.

More information on the part, which is shipped with a C software development kit (SDK), is available in Chinese on the WCH website.

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