The STMicroelectronics STM32F103 is a widely used 32-bit microcontroller based on the ARM Cortex M3-Core architecture. However, shortages of the STM32F103RCT6 model during the semiconductor crisis have prompted the search for viable alternatives. In this article, we delve into alternative options and highlight the availability, features, and considerations when choosing an alternative to the STM32F103RCT6 microcontroller

STMicroelectronics STM32F103RCT6 Microcontroller vs GD32F103C8T6 by GigaDevice

Development with STMCubeIDE:

STM32F103 development is typically carried out using the STMCubeIDE, a powerful tool that simplifies the process. It offers a high-performance code generator capable of producing STM32 peripheral drivers based on graphical settings. The standardized nature of these drivers enables easy cross-microcontroller development. STMCubeIDE, based on Eclipse, provides comprehensive debugger support, including breakpoints and variable inspection.  

Workarounds for STM32F103RCT6 Shortages:

To address the shortage of STM32F103RCT6 microcontrollers, several semiconductor vendors offer alternatives that are compatible with the STM32F103 design. One notable alternative is the GigaDevice GD32F103C8T6, which features a distinct semiconductor design. As depicted in the figure from, the GD32F103C8T6 employs a two-die design with flash memory mounted on top of the microcontroller. While existing STM32F103 binaries can often run on the GD32F103, GigaDevice's official recommendation involves recompiling the code using the KEIL toolchain. Following an acceptance test, the GD32F103 can be seamlessly integrated into the system.  

STMicroelectronics STM32F103RCT6 Microcontroller vs GD32F103C8T6 by GigaDevice

Exploring STM32F103RCT6 with RISC-V:

An intriguing development in the STM32 realm involves a non-ARM variant. GigaDevice offers the GD32VF103 family, which shares a compatible pinout and similar peripheral devices but employs a RISC-V core instead of the Cortex-M chip. Designs based on GD32VF103 are independent of ARM's intellectual property, eliminating concerns about IP sanctions. This aspect gained significance during the Softbank IPO of ARM.  

Availability and Purchase Options:

The availability of STM32F103RCT6 microcontrollers has now stabilized, with all major distributors stocking the part. The average price for 100 units is approximately $6 USD per piece(accurate on the date of publication). Interestingly, the GD32F103C8T6 availability has also improved, with Mouser now offering the part. Typically, the GD32F103C8T6 is around 30% cheaper than the STM32, making it an attractive alternative.  


For developers working with existing designs that require an ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller, the STM32F103 remains a reliable choice. However, it's worth noting that the STM32F103 is an aging architecture, and for new designs, exploring other options is recommended. GigaDevice's GD32F103C8T6 presents a cost-effective alternative with improved performance, while other modern microcontroller architectures offer lower standby power and advanced peripherals at competitive prices. When selecting a microcontroller, it's crucial to consider the specific requirements of the project and evaluate the available options to ensure optimal performance and cost-effectiveness.