Raspberry Pi uses its own silicon for $4 board

January 21, 2021 //By Nick Flaherty
The $4 Raspberry Pi Pico board uses a new dual core 133MHz microcontroller, the RP4020, with 264KB of on chip memory
The $4 Raspberry Pi Pico board uses a new dual core 133MHz microcontroller, the RP4020, with 264KB of on chip memory

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has designed its own chip to enable a $4 (€3.30, £3.09) board.

The Raspberry Pi Pico board is built around a new chip, the dual core RP2040 microcontroller, similar to the previous Compute module but integrating more memory, ADC and sensors to bring down the cost. The chip supports large on-chip memory of 264KB and 30 I/Os with dedicated I/O hardware, while the board includes 2MB of on-board QSPI Flash and 26 general purpose I/O pins and USB1.1 support.

There is an on-board power supply to generate 3.3V for RP2040 and external circuitry. A wide input voltage range, from 1.8V to 5.5V, gives designers the flexibility to select their preferred power source. 

It supports simple drag and drop programming via micro-USB. 3-pin Serial Wire Debug (SWD) for interactive debugging. Comprehensive C SDK, mature MicroPython port, and extensive examples and documentation.

The board will ship from Farnell from next Monday, Jan 25th for USD4.00. This will allow existing designs on the original boards and Compute modules to move down to a more cost effective implementation. Over 36m boards have been shipped, with many used for IoT designs as a low cost controller.

The Foundation says it learned a lot from using Broadcom’s chips in the previous boards.

“With Raspberry Pi Pico, and RP2040, we have been able to draw on insights drawn from a decade of using other vendors’ microcontrollers, and to create an innovative silicon platform for our customers,” said James Adams, Chief Operating Officer, Raspberry Pi Trading. “People have used Raspberry Pi to create a broader spread of projects and products than we could have imagined a decade ago; we’re sure the same will be true of Raspberry Pi Pico.”

The RP2040 microcontroller uses two ARM Cortex-M0+ cores clocked at 133 MHz with dedicated hardware for commonly used peripherals alongside a programmable I/O subsystem for extended peripheral support. It also includes a four-channel analog-to-digital converter (ADC) with internal temperature sensor and the USB 1.1 with host and device support.

Next: Raspberry Pi Pico availability

The $4 Raspberry Pi Pico board 26 I/O pinout

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