Realtek RTL8710 Could Challenge the Popularity of the ESP8266

Internet of Things Other Boards Technology
Realtek RTL8710 Could Challenge the Popularity of the ESP8266
Realtek’s RTL8710 features an ARM Cortex-M3 processor, 1Mb of Flash memory and 48k of RAM.
Realtek’s RTL8710 (left) features an ARM Cortex-M3 processor, 1MB of Flash memory and 48k of RAM. The Espressif ESP8266 (right) features a slower Tensilica LX106 processor, 36K of RAM and up to 16MB Flash.

A few years ago (two to be exact) Shanghai-based Espressif launched their low-cost ESP8266 Wi-Fi chip, which gave just about any microcontroller access to a wireless network. It gave makers the ability to design any number of IoT projects that required an internet connection and the fact that it was also cheap (costing around $5 on average) made it that much more attractive.

The reign of the ESP8266 as the go-to Wi-Fi module may be coming to an end, however, as a new module from Realtek has been spotted in the wild and it’s not only more powerful but cheaper as well (AliExpress lists it for $3.52).

The RTL8710 SDK can be used to debug and program the module using a micro USB port
The RTL8710 SDK board can be used to debug and program RTL8710 modules.

The RTL8710 may be tiny, but it packs an ARM Cortex-M3 processor (running at 166MHz), 48Kb of RAM and 1Mb of Flash. In contrast, the ESP8266 sports a Tensilica LX106 processor (running at 80/160MHz), 36Kb of RAM and 1–60Mb of Flash depending on the module version. Clearly, the RTL8710 wins the performance crown, although it is 1mm larger than the ESP8266 at 6×6mm and 5×5mm respectively.

According to AliExpress, the RTL8710 uses FreeRTOS as the go-to operating system and can be debugged and programmed using RealTek’s RTL8710 SDK over a micro USB connection. As for the modules other features, it packs up to 21 GPIO, up to 3 I2C, up to 2 PCM, 4 PWM and two high-speed UART and one low-speed. For Wi-Fi, it has a speed of up to 150 Mbps over an 802.11n connection and a top speed of 54 Mbps over 802.11g. For those interested in getting their hands on the new module, both the RTL8710 module and the SDK are available now.


Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

The one-man ace engineering wrecking crew - If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find me, maybe you can hire... the Cabe-team

View more articles by Cabe Atwell


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).