Raspberry Pi Foundation launches $4 microcontroller featuring custom silicon

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,739   +140
Staff member
In a nutshell: The Raspberry Pi Pico utilizes a chip developed in house called the RP2040. According to hardware lead James Adams, they had three key goals when designing the chip: it had to exhibit impressive performance, have a flexible I/O for compatibility purposes and be cost efficient. Building on lessons learned from using other microcontrollers in their products, Raspberry seemingly accomplished its goals,

The Raspberry Pi foundation on Thursday announced its first microcontroller-class product.

The RP2040 package consists of the following:

  • Dual-core Arm Cortex-M0+ @ 133MHz
  • 264KB of on-chip RAM
  • Support for up to 16MB of off-chip flash memory via dedicated QSPI bus
  • DMA controller
  • Interpolator and integer divider peripherals
  • 30 GPIO pins, 4 of which can be used as analogue inputs
  • 2 × UARTs, 2 × SPI controllers, and 2 × I2C controllers
  • 16 × PWM channels
  • 1 × USB 1.1 controller and PHY, with host and device support
  • 8 × Raspberry Pi Programmable I/O (PIO) state machines
  • USB mass-storage boot mode with UF2 support, for drag-and-drop programming

As for the Raspberry Pi Pico itself, it pairs the RP2040 with 2MB of flash memory and a power supply chip supporting input voltages ranging from 1.8v to 5.5v. There's also a single push button that can be used as a general input and 26 of the 30 GPIO pins are exposed.

Like other Raspberry Pi devices, the Pico is affordable. Very affordable. You’ll pay just $4 if purchased individually, or if you opt for the latest copy of HackSpace magazine, you’ll get one bundled for free. They’re available to order as of writing from one of Raspberry Pi’s many approved resellers.

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Posts: 4,016   +4,368
What exactly could I do with this?
anything you need to do with embedded computing, I imagine it isn't very different from an Arduino. One thing a friend of mine did with a micro controller was repair his "smart" washer. It was surged, the old smart controller was fried but the motors were fine so he connected the switches to the controller and the controller to the motors and fixed it.

I think the hardest part people have answering that question is that there are so many possibilities that it's difficult to think of any one of them. In my friends example, he wouldn't of even considered using something similar to fix his washing machine until he needed to.

If you want a more "hilarious" example of what's possible you should try watching this video


Posts: 240   +171
What exactly could I do with this?

One thing I pointed out to a family member was joysticks. He wanted a HOTAS but they were all sold out. I said get a 3d printer and some micro controllers and make a HOTAS setup yourself. So he did.

I use a set of pedals for leaning in FPS games because I cant contort my fingers enough in games like tarkov or pubg. So being a good pc user I figured out my own solution instead of having to use whatever was approved for the console/mac/ipad. Its what makes pc gaming so awesome imo.

Yah. Tons of things to do with microcontrollers. I have a dozen or more of them laying around my workbench waiting for some future job.

Another nice thing about them is they dont really go out of date. At least not quickly. A 10 year old or 15 year old atmega will handle most projects just as well as this arm one will. Of course the advantage is this arm one is way more powerful and flexible for the price. Half the features this comes with id have had to buy and add into the project with the older atmel chips (ram, more outputs or inputs, timers, etc). 24 exposed gpios on a 4$ controller is already making me excited ;)