Meet the new $4 Raspberry Pi PICO

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has just released its first microcontroller-based product, the Raspberry Pi PICO. The new Raspberry Pi PICO is a low-cost, high-performance, tiny, fast and versatile microcontroller board with flexible digital interfaces that costs only $4 and measures 51mm X 21mm from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Compared to the previous versions of the Raspberry Pi boards, the PICO is different as it’s the first device that uses the RP2040 chip, a brand new microcontroller chip designed by Raspberry Pi in the UK.

This new Raspberry Pi PICO is adaptable to a vast range of applications and skill levels as it is very easy to get started with. It can be programmed in either C/C++ or MicroPython with the use of SDKs. The Foundation decided to build their own RP2040 microcontroller chip in house because according to them, none of the chips on the market met their price performance goals which also gave them room to incorporate several innovative and powerful features that you cannot find in any other chip elsewhere at any price. This is genius…!!!

 

 

This tiny powerful board boasts of the following features;

  • RP2040 microcontroller chip designed in-house by Raspberry Pi.
  • 264KB of SRAM and 2MB of on-board Flash Memory.
  • Dual-core Arm Cortex M0+ processor, flexible clock running up to 133 MHz
  • USB 1.1 with device and host support.
  • Low power sleep and dormant modes
  • 26 x multi-functional GPIO pins
  • 2 x SPI, 2 x I2C, 2 x UART, 3 x 12-bit ADC, 16 x controllable PWM channels
  • Temperature sensor.
  • 8 x programmable I/O (PIO) state machines for custom peripheral support.
  • Castellated module allows soldering direct to carrier boards.
  • Accurate clock and timer on-chip.
  • Accelerated floating-point libraries on-chip.

According to James Adam’s blog post on the Raspberry Pi Foundation website, he says “many hobbyist and industrial applications pair a Raspberry Pi with a microcontroller. The Raspberry Pi takes care of the heavyweight computation, network access and storage while the microcontroller handles analogue input and low-latency I/O and sometimes provides a very low-power standby mode”.

For the past few years Raspberry Pi has been using other microcontrollers from different manufacturers in their products and not until now, they thought it was the right time for them to build their own. In the same blog post, James Adams stresses that “Until now, we’ve not been able to figure out a way to make a compelling microcontroller-class product of our own. To make the product we really wanted to make, first we had to learn to make our own chips”.

The Raspberry Pi PICO puts the technology that underpins countless everyday operations into your hands from controlling appliances to operating a light display. So whether you are looking for a standalone board for building deep-embedded systems, or you are just taking your first steps of tinkering with a microcontroller, this is the board for you, so get started ASAP.

Tum Kurtzman
Author: Tum Kurtzman

Computer Engineer, Ugandan Life Hacker, Tech Blogger, YouTuber, Founder & Lead Engineer @ SonaLabs.....

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