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this is indeed probably the best low-cost wifi chip out there, most of the esp8266 modules are still acting as an add-on module for other host-cpus(e.g. arduino) though, wish it can run something like freertos or contik on its own so it can be a IoT sensor standalone(maybe it's there already, had not checked it in the last few months).

TI had similar products but it's too expensive, in that sense IoT hardware has to be 'made-in-china'

It can run FreeRTOS, the Espressif SDK has an example and there's even a nice open source project around it too: https://github.com/SuperHouse/esp-open-rtos

there are a couple of javascript environments running on it, as well as lua, so it has managed to turn into something that can easily be IoT ready.

There is a firmware to run lua directly on the esp8266: https://github.com/nodemcu/nodemcu-firmware

I have been messing with nodemcu on an ESP8266 ebay board for the last few weeks. It was initially really weird to have a REPL on an embedded system but I'm already missing it when I go back to other platforms.

And ESP8266 is now supported by the Arduino IDE. See https://github.com/esp8266/Arduino

I was told the core team of esp8266 are all ex-broadcom wifi designers.

Doesn't look like it [1]. Certainly a skilled team though!

[1] https://twitter.com/EspressifSystem/status/65372641801515827...

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