The Raspberry Pi Pico is a new $4 microcontroller board powered by a custom chip
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The Raspberry Pi is perhaps the most popular single-board computer in the world, and with good reason. At just US$35, it offers a lot of power for not a lot of cash. As strange as it may sound, however, the Pi may be too expensive and too powerful for some electronics projects. That’s why the Raspberry Pi Foundation has introduced the Raspberry Pi Pico.
The tiny Pico is a compact microcontroller that looks slightly larger than a stick of gum. On paper, the Pico’s specs aren’t terribly impressive compared to its bigger brother, the Raspberry Pi. The Pico features 264 KB of RAM, 2 MB of flash memory, a micro-USB 1.1 port, and 40 I/O pin connections, and three debug pins.
Powering the Pico is a custom-made RP2040 microcontroller, a dual-core ARM Cortex-M0+ chip.
However, the Pico isn’t meant to be a standalone computer like the Raspberry Pi. Instead, the Pico is a microcontroller, similar to an Arduino. As such, it’s designed for simpler, application-specific electronics projects. It is also the first device to “use a silicon chip designed by Raspberry Pi’s in-house Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) team,” according to the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
This makes the Pico a good supplement to the Raspberry Pi to offload some specific tasks. The Pico can be booted into USB Mass Storage Mode to run C- or MicroPython-created programs off a USB drive.
The Raspberry Pi Pico will be available in the United States and the broader North American market starting January 25th. The Pico can be purchased from Newark starting at $4.