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Raspberry Pi starts direct sales of microcontroller

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty


Raspberry Pi has started its own direct sales, selling its RP2040 microcontroller for as little as $0.70, aiming to capitalise on the chip shortage.

The RP2040 is Raspberry Pi’s first in-house designed microcontroller and was launched on the Raspberry Pi Pico board a year ago. Since then the company has shipped nearly 1.5m boards, says Eden Upton, founder and CEO.

The company has a pipeline of 20 million dual-core Arm Cortex-M0+ controllers that run up to 133MHz, making it relatively easy to port software across from other microcontrollers. The chips have 264KB on-chip SRAM, 2 × UART, 2 × SPI controllers, 2 × I2C controllers, 16 × PWM channels and a USB 1.1 controller and PHY, with host and device support as well as wight Programmable I/O (PIO) state machines for custom peripheral support. The device supports input power from 1.8 to 5.5V DC with an operating temperature of -20°C to +85°C for industrial designs.

“Since June, RP2040 has been available through our worldwide network of Approved Resellers, for a single-unit price of $1. This remains the best way to get your hands on the chip for prototyping, and for small- to medium-scale production,” he said. “But as RP2040 products begin to ramp to scale, and the global semiconductor shortage has transmuted most other microcontrollers into unobtainium, we’ve started to see people asking to buy tens of thousands of chips at a time.”

This has led to the launch of Raspberry Pi Direct, an online storefront that sells just two products. The first is a reel of 500 RP2040 chips, with a unit price of $0.80, while the second is a reel of 3,400 RP2040 chips, with a unit price of $0.70.

Payment is by bank transfer (not credit cards) and the reels ship once funds clear.

RP2040 is built on TSMC’s 40nm 40LP process which is more modern than most other microcontrollers, says Upton. Each die occupies just 2mm2, and each 300mm wafer yields roughly 21,000 dice.

“We have sufficient wafer stock on hand to produce 20 million chips, with more on the way,” he said.

Raspberry Pi Direct

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