8-cylinder TFT display

Sports car in disguise…

With its 8-bits parallel interface under the hood, this cheap MCUFriend 2.4″ TFT Arduino shield is something like a V8 powered Aston Martin, disguised as a Volkswagen Beetle.
I wondered how fast an ESP32 could drive it, especially when using the TFT_eSPI library.

These popular 320×240 ili9341 TFT displays are usually equipped with an SPI interface, but the TFT_eSPI library supports their 8-bits parallel version as well. I adapted the corresponding user_setup file for wiring the shield to a LOLIN D32 Pro board (see below), connected the required 15 wires (including two power lines*) and ran the same benchmark sketch that I had previously used in this post. The result was quite impressive.

The complete benchmark test (without the final text loop) completes within 0.8 seconds!


The following table quantifies the considerable speed gain in comparison with the SPI version at 27 MHz and 40 MHz (no DMA).


Here’s my user_setup file for a LOLIN D32 Pro board. It leaves GPIO pins 16 & 17 (used by PSRAM on WROVER boards), standard SPI pins 18, 19 & 23 and UART0 pins 1 & 3 free.  Adding the line #define DMA_BUSY_CHECK fixed a compile error.


This is a great display for projects that require ultra fast screen updates and don’t mind spending 13 GPIO pins. Now I’ll go after the 3.5″ version with 480×320 pixels, hoping it will be less sensitive to solderless wiring than my HX8357D 3.5″ display in 8-bit mode.

* For my shield to work, I had to power its 5V pin from the ESP32’s 5V output pin.