What’s in stall for 2022 and beyond? Well, as we announced the end of Life of our current range we had a number of questions sent to us by customers, partners and our community. Questions and Answers below.


Q:        Why has Pycom decided to retire the current ESP32 range of products? 

A:         We introduced the current range back in 2015 and since then much has changed in the electronics market. We are facing unreliable sourcing of components, longer lead times for existing components, price increases, irregular availability for previous generation of components, and more.

 

To remove some of the above complexity we would have to proceed to re-design the most products, re-test and re-certify them all and this, as you may know, is very time-consuming, costly and not least seems wasted when done for a hardware platform where the MCU and radio chips are getting on a bit.

 

Instead, as we reviewed everything, it was decided that we will refresh and upgrade the many parts to new versions and include some of the latest technology and chips as well as introduce new tech such as the addition of secure elements.

 

 

 

Q:        I am unclear if the new chip is just Hardware / Pin compatible or will it also be software compatible to code bases written to the current devices?

A:         The modules will run the latest “official” MicroPython (the core development of which, by the way, we are sponsoring every month) however there are a few differences in the APIs.

 

We will provide helper scripts for compatibility in due course. The F01 modules will be supplied in an SMT form-factor e.g. they can be mounted onto a PCB or an M.2 donor board. We will supply both types. The modules can be mounted onto existing Pycom module layouts (and will obviously work) however to get the full new functionality of both new boards (and use of the extended I/O pins0, a re-design of the PCB will be required. Pin out diagrams will be provided and customers can approach us for reference designs.

 

 

Q:        Will the pricing be higher for the F01 S3 and H7?

A:         We are awaiting initial factory pricing. Due to the fluidity in the market for electronic components there may still be a little bit of fluctuation as we pass on component price increases as well as reductions.

The expectation is the ESP32-S3 will be a higher price than the current ESP 32-based module, and the ARM H7 will be the higher priced range.

 

It is for this reason we are allowing time for our customers to replenish stocks of our current range for any manufacturing requirements at current price levels. 

 

Q:        What is the deadline for Last-Time-Buys of the existing ESP32 range and when will we receive the final deliveries?

A:         The deadline for placing orders is the 30th June 2022.

We are aiming to deliver all final ESP32-based boards before end of December 2022. It is very likely that some will be before this timeframe.

 

 

Q:        When does pre-order of the F01 units start and when can we expect to receive the new modules?

A:         Pre-orders will start mid-July 2022 with first deliveries of the modules (H7 and S3) due for November / December 2022. It will be a first come / first served basis due to the availability of chips within that period. Obviously a second batch will be delivered late Q1 2023.

 

 

 

Q:        Will the new expansion boards enable debugging?

A:         We will launch 2 versions of the expansion board: one standard version (similar to current product) with M.2 connector and a second Expansion board type which will include an st-link debugger for use with the F01H7 modules. This will enable customers to program and debug the STM32H7 and the MuRata 1SJ.

 

 

 

Q:        Are the LTE-M and NB-IoT networks supported by cellular modems in H7 and S3 without changing the modules flash firmware?

A:         On the H7 (MuRata) this is the case. However, on the S3 this is still on the Roadmap for Sequans GM02S cellular chip, but there is no ETA yet.

 

 

 

Q:        Is the form factor of M.2 modules similar to present GPY? 

A:         The M.2 board is slightly bigger (wider) than the current GPy.

 

 

 

 

Q         When will M2 modules pinout be published?

A:         We are aiming to provide pinouts in July 2022.

 

 

 

 

Q:        Would the current ESP32 micropython programs work with the new modules (after adjusting some port/pin numbers etc)? 

A:         Yes, however there will be some API changes. We will post some helper scripts for ease of development and compatibility.

 

 

 

 

Q:        Do both S3 and H7 modules support GPS?

A:         We don’t have a built-in GPS but of course an external GPS can be connected.

 

 

 

 

Q:        I am interested in pre-order information on the F01-H7 in M.2 form factor with an expansion board.  Will the M.2 form factor be compatible in a PC M.2 slot?

A:         No, it will not be compatible with a PC.

 

 

 

 

Q:        Is it true that we will be able to program both new F01 modules in either C++ or MicroPython? 

A:         Yes! We are big believers in MicroPython. We were the first IoT modules to launch with LPWAN functionality and to this day we continue to sponsor the MicroPython organisation on a monthly basis. However, we also believe in giving choice to our customers and there are other scripting languages being considered at the moment.

 

 

Q:        Will both modules integrate within Pycom’s Device Cloud, MuRata’s Device Cloud?

A:         Yes! You will be able to use the new IDE to program in either MicroPython or C++

 

 

 

Q: What other Clouds do you support?

A: We have had APIs for other clouds like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud for a while now. We will continue to provide those and support other partner and customer Clouds as they switch on.