@allObjects, agree to your first point, Let me give an answer in (a kind of) german.
Esch ischt halt so geworde or with others words, the tree is grown this way ;-)
Writing in compiledC would work for the boards supported by Gordon not for ESP32 or others, Correct me if I'm wrong.
Anyway, I could imagine to have something like E.convertForLEDBoard function in Espruino.
And there should also be some options to speed up shiftout (significant).
Even an empty for next loop is not faster than one of the first boards. RTOS takes some cpu power, but we use it mainly for multitasking, and tasks can change each msec.
For me looks like the processor is not the fastest even with its high clock (80/160 mhz)
One more problem of ESPIDF, it's hungry for memory. With V3.1 we reach 1300 kBytes, where V3.0 needs 1100 kBytes. Ok, we have a change around mbedtls, but this should never be the reason for additional 200kBytes.
Oh, before I forget, my assumption about speed of set/reset pins was not correct, as you can see in compasion table above.
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