The Raspberry Pi foundation has revealed its latest maker board in the form of the Pico, which has two outstanding factors aside from its diminutive size: an equally small price at $4 (~R59.41), and a chip made by the foundation itself.
Here in South Africa the PiShop, an approved reseller of Raspberry Pi products, is selling it for R69.90. While that may be slightly above the US price we have to, as always, remind everyone that the US prices usually don’t include tax. When we look at the price in the UK (where the Raspberry Pi Foundation is based), the Pico actually goes for around £3.60 (~R73.33), which is closer to what we’re paying here anyway. On top of all of that what can you even buy with R10 nowadays? Most chocolate bars cost more than that.
Price aside what are you getting for the small amount of money you’re spending? The big selling point here is the RP2040 chip which was developed by the Raspberry Pi foundation to use as little power as possible. In the announcement of the Pico James Adams, COO & Hardware Lead, Pi Trading, points out that even the minuscule Raspberry Pi Zero used more power than you may have liked, even at the lowest power settings, making it less than ideal for certain applications.
“Many hobbyist and industrial applications pair a Raspberry Pi with a microcontroller. The Raspberry Pi takes care of 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. 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,” Adams writes.
The RP2040 contains a Dual-core Arm Cortex-M0+ running at 133MHz and 264KB of on-chip RAM.
The Pico is, according to Adams, a low-cost breakout board for RP2040. A vehicle of sorts.
As with all Raspberry Pi releases documentation has already been released for you to get going with the new hardware. Datasheets, an SDK and even a physical getting started book are already available. Various third parties such as Adafruit, Pimoroni and SparkFun have already created their own accessories for the Pico or breakout boards of for the RP2040.
Aside from getting Doom running on this thing, which should happen soon, this is yet another low cost device which should find its home in places like South Africa where cheap computing can always be put to good use.
The full specs of the Raspberry Pi Pico, provided by PiShop, are as follows:
- RP2040 microcontroller chip designed by Raspberry Pi in the United Kingdom
- Dual-core ARM Cortex M0+ processor, flexible clock running up to 133 MHz
- 264kB of SRAM, and 2MB of on-board Flash memory
- Castellated module allows soldering direct to carrier boards
- USB 1.1 Host and Device support
- Low-power sleep and dormant modes
- Drag & drop programming using mass storage over USB
- 26 multi-function GPIO pins
- 2×SPI, 2×I2C, 2×UART, 3×12-bit ADC, 16×controllable PWM channels
- Accurate clock and timer on-chip
- Temperature sensor
- Accelerated floating point libraries on-chip
- 8×Programmable IO (PIO) state machines for custom peripheral support.