Raspberry Pi Pico is a new microcontroller board designed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. A new product that joins existing ones and which is more like Arduino than an SBC. In addition, it has another big surprise that has surprised everyone, and it goes beyond its small size, magnificent energy efficiency, or its price of only $ 4.
And it is that the Raspberry Pi Foundation has transformed, at least momentarily, into a fabless, designing its own chip. Its about SoC RP2040. That is, for this time, they have not used Broadcom chips as in other boards, but have designed it themselves. We will see if in the future they follow this same trend in other plates or if it was only something specific ...
El RP2040 is the first chip designed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. A design created at home to enhance this ultra-small and ultra-thin board and designed for projects where size and consumption are important, such as some embedded or embedded applications in robotics, industry, automotive, medical applications, weather stations, etc.
Despite what other media say (even some important and reputable ones), it is not a chip manufactured by them, only designed by them. An SoC that has been designed by our own team specialized in ASICs and that has resulted in this IC.
That is, they have not been transformed into an IDM, but are just a fabless that have sent their design to be manufactured to the foundry TSMC. In these factories a 40nm process has been used for their manufacture. And yes, it is a node that may seem quite primitive, but that lithography technology is more than enough for this project and does its job very well.
Returning to the design of the rp2040 SoC that powers this Raspberry Pi Pico, it is a chip in which the cores have not been designed from scratch, but rather they have chosen to use Arm's IP cores. Specifically, it has used two ARM Cortex M0 + working at 133Mhz. In addition, it has also been equipped with 264 KB of RAM, and 2MB of flash.
All not oriented to run an operating system like Linux (or others), as happens in other SBC boards, but the Raspberry Pi Pico can only run sketches or programs written in languages like C / C ++ or MycroPython. Once you write them on your PC, they can be passed to the board through the microUSB so that the MCU unit, or microcontroller, executes them.
Lastly, I wouldn't want to put aside the nomenclature used, and is that the name RP2040 has its reason:
- RP: means Raspberry Pi
- 2: number of cores.
- 0: core type (M0 +).
- 4: log2 (RAM / 16kB).
- 0: log2 (non-volatile or flash / 16kB), if it is 0 it is because it is on-board.
This may seem stupid, especially considering that for now there is only one SoC designed by them. But it may hint that the Raspberry Pi Foundation might design more SoCs in the future...
More information - Datasheet RP2040
About the Raspberry Pi Pico board
The new plate Raspberry Pi Pico it keeps pleasant surprises, despite its small size. And only for a price of $ 4, which makes it one of the most affordable microcontroller boards on the market.
As for the technical characteristics and specifications, here are all the details of the plate:
- SoC: RP2040 designed in the UK by an ASIC design working group of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
- DualCore ARM Cortex-M0 + with dynamic clock frequency up to 133Mhz.
- 264 kB of SRAM memory
- 2MB of on-board flash memory.
- With very low consumption and dormant and sleep modes.
- Connection: microUSB with support for USB 1.1 Host
- Programming: Drag & drop using languages like C / C ++ and MicroPython.
- GPIO: 26-pin multifunction
- Other pins: 2x SPI, 2x I2C, 2x UART, 3x 12-bit ADC, 16x channels PWM.
- Food: 3.3v
- More: temperature sensor, fast floating point libraries in ROM, and 8x PIO (Programmable I / O) to be able to adapt the board to support peripherals, etc. For example, with PIO it can be configured to emulate VGA, sound, SD card reader, etc.
- Size: 51x21mm
- Price: 4 $ (buy)
How to start programming
The new Raspberry Pi Pico is programmed using the C / C ++ SDK or the official MicroPython port, depending on whether you prefer to use one language or another for your projects. In addition, the program is easily loaded:
- Simply by holding down the BOOTSEL button on the board
- Connecting the microUSB cable to the PC (Linux, Windows, or macOS, and you can even program from a Raspberry Pi 4)
- Then the BOOTSEL button is released and the PC will mount the new unit called RPI-RP2 as if it were a pendrive.
- Now, you just have to drag the UF2 code file to the memory unit and it will load.
- The Raspberry Pi Pico will reboot and start running the program.
In addition, you also have a file INDEX.HTM inside the unit and that will show you the official documentation on the Raspberry Pi website. Another INFO_U2F.TXT file contains information about the board, such as the version of the bootloader.