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I am a bit of a novice in the field of RF design, and I was looking around for an RF module to use in a project. I kept on noticing the ESP8266, which is pretty popular with hobbyists, but it's something that doesn't seem to be used in commercial products, and I can't buy the chip by itself from big suppliers like Digikey or Arrow. Why is this?

Also, I noticed that the assembled esp8266 module has way fewer passives on the antenna output from the chip than other boards. How can they do that? I didn't think that on-chip inductors could be large enough to meet the requirements of rf designs.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Chris Stratton, PeterJ, Armandas, laptop2d, Daniel Grillo Sep 20 '16 at 12:12

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ doesn't seem to be used in commercial products And how do you know this ? The hobby market is simply too small to develop a chip like the ESP8266 so it must be used commercially or else the company which developed it (Espressif Systems) is run by idiots. It might be their choice to only sell the chip directly to OEMs and only in large quantities. \$\endgroup\$ – Bimpelrekkie Sep 18 '16 at 19:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ I didn't think that on-chip inductors could be large enough to meet the requirements of rf designs. How do you know ? I know for a fact that companies (including the companies for which I worked) have been using on-chip inductors for more than 10 years. One of the reasons that RF chips in the require so few external components is because they use on-chip inductors. \$\endgroup\$ – Bimpelrekkie Sep 18 '16 at 19:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're totally right. I need citations for those, let me explain myself. I assumed that it wasn't used much in commercial products (in america at least) because it isn't marketed to me. I get advertisements for Atmel and Microchip all the time, but never the Espressif chips. I assumed that on-chip inductors would be insufficient because a small survey of RF chips that I'm familiar with (offerings from Microchip, Atmel, Nordic, TI, etc) all require external inductors to operate. The espressif chip is the only one I know of with no external inductor required. \$\endgroup\$ – johnny_boy Sep 18 '16 at 19:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's likely used in high volume consumer goods built out of the PRC -- I would never design it into any other kind of product, personally. There's too much "weird" and unstable about the chip, buts that's less of an issue if you're building a $10 trinket and ordering 10,000/mo. from ExpressIF \$\endgroup\$ – Krunal Desai Sep 18 '16 at 23:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are actually some commercial products around with a ESP8266 in it. For example, the sonoff: itead.cc/wiki/Sonoff or this led controller: es.aliexpress.com/item/… and this led bulb: ebay.com/itm/… I'm sure there are many more. \$\endgroup\$ – ErikL Sep 22 '16 at 13:00