Raspberry Pi Foundation has launched a new product. It's about the Raspberry Pi Pico, a new cheap SBC that joins the existing ones. With that, the current offer is reinforced, along with the Raspberry Pi 4 and Pi Zero, or the Pi 400. Now, the new format is of a reduced size, and with a really surprising price: about $ 4.
In this case it is a MCU or microcontroller, a simple and reduced solution to implement everything necessary to run an embedded system and apply it to projects where size and consumption are important, such as medical projects, automotive, industry, robotics, weather stations, etc.
You may think that this is not great news, and it is true that similar reduced plates already exist. But the great news is another. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has saved a surprise. And it happens to be a fabless designer of its own chips, such as the SoC that it includes in the Raspberry Pi Pico.
An SoC designed by themselves and named after RP2040. The processing cores were not designed from scratch, instead we opted for licensed cores from Arm. Specifically, two ARM Cortex M0 + cores at 133Mhz have been implemented. Along with them, 264 KB of RAM and 2MB of flash storage have been implemented, as well as a PIO (Programmable I / O) unit to emulate interfaces such as those of SD cards, VGA, etc.
Watch out! Because they have not become an MDI overnight, as other fairly prestigious media seem to indicate. I repeat that it is a fabless, they simply limit themselves to designing, not manufacturing. In fact, the Raspberry Pi Pico chip is manufactured in the TSMC foundry, with 40nm node. And we will have to see if this is a trend for future SoCs, or if it is just something specific and they will continue to use the Broadcom ...
By the way, a technology of quite dated lithographYes, but it doesn't require more either given the simple features of this chip. For what it has been designed, it more than meets.
As for the operating system, the truth is that you will not be able to install Linux or others, as in other SBCs. No, here you can simply insert programs for it to run. That is, in that sense it is more similar to an Arduino board.
You can write sketches in programming languages like C or MicroPython in a PC and load them by the microUSB in the memory of your Raspberry Pi Pico. Thus, the microcontroller will be able to execute them and perform operations on the GPIO pins.
Obviously, don't expect great benefits. Is a limited plate because it is oriented to a specific type of applications. In addition to not being able to install an OS, you will also find yourself lacking in terms of wireless connectivity due to its small size.