Power isn’t everything when it comes to computing. Something which we have increasingly seen in the IoT space where people are crafting unique automated solutions to many different tasks. And one of the core brains behind the growing IoT industry is the likes of the Raspberry Pi, the cheap microcomputer which can be connected to all manner of devices and programmed to perform a variety of tasks. And you thought Skynet was all about big powerful robots with guns.
The company is now branching out from microcomputers to microcontrollers, as Raspberry has unveiled its new Raspberry Pi Pico. It features a piece of custom silicon (called the RP2040) that it claims is powerful enough to be used for machine learning purposes, and yet is smaller than your average Raspberry Pi board:
The Raspberry Pi takes care of heavyweight computation, network access, and storage, while the microcontroller handles analog input and low-latency I/O and sometimes provides a very low-power standby mode.
The specs of the new RP2040 are as follows:
- Dual-core Arm Cortex-M0+ @ 133MHz
- 264KB (remember kilobytes?) 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
So, it’s not going to play Crysis, but at just $4, you aren’t going to find a microcontroller that is going to give you better value for money and is still more than capable of doing many things when combined with a bit of ingenuity.
Last Updated: January 25, 2021