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The Raspberry Pi Pico is a new $4 microcontroller board powered by a custom chip

The Raspberry Pi Pico is a $4 ASIC microcontroller board. Image via the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
The Raspberry Pi Pico is a $4 ASIC microcontroller board. Image via the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
The Raspberry Pi Pico is a tiny microcontroller board powered by the Raspberry Pi Foundation's custom RP2040 microcontroller chip. The board is similar to an Arduino in that it is designed for simple and specific electronics projects or as a complimentary board to the Raspberry Pi.

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.

Buy the Raspberry Pi 4 (8 GB) from Amazon.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 01 > The Raspberry Pi Pico is a new $4 microcontroller board powered by a custom chip
Sam Medley, 2021-01-21 (Update: 2021-01-21)
Sam Medley
Sam Medley - Review Editor - @samuel_medley - 1091 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2016
I've been a "tech-head" my entire life. After graduating college with a degree in Mathematics, I worked in finance and banking a few years before taking a job as a Systems Analyst for my local school district. I started working with Notebookcheck in October of 2016 and have enjoyed writing news articles and notebook reviews. My areas of interest include the business side of technology, retro gaming, Linux, and innovative gadgets. When I'm not hunched over an electronic device or writing code for a new database, I'm either outside with my family, playing a decade-old video game, or sitting behind a drum set.