Some time ago I discovered some early information about the Esp8266, a very small and especially cheap WIFI module with serial interface.
With time passing by, information are getting more and more. Good examples and proof of concepts are available now indicating the full power of this module. Beside the base version ESP-01, which focusses mostly on being a module interfaced to another micro controller, there are also other versions available exposing e.g. 9 GIOPs beside the RX/TX pins. This might be the ultimate module for using the internal MCU directly without any additional controller for automation via the internet, allowing a real cheap Internet of Things.
I’ve just ordered an ESP-03 with 7 GIOPs for just 3,17$!
The only downside so far is that the pinout has 2mm spacing and won’t fit to the norma 2,54mm breadboards. But with a simple adopter this can be handled.
You’ll also notice how small the module is. Only 2cm² including a ceramic antenna.
To overcome the waiting time for the module shipped from China to Germany, here’s already a very motivating video showing a ESP-01 module interfaced to a PC via FTDI-cable and connected to a Wifi router: