Arduino, and Pi Pico, builds on the Raspberry Pi RP2040 – Electronics Weekly


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Arduino, and Pi Pico, builds on the Raspberry Pi RP2040

The RP2040 is newly developed at the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the Pi Pico builds on it (see above) as a standalone board option for embedded development or as companion piece to your Raspberry Pi computer, perhaps serving first steps with a microcontroller.

Basically, we are talking about interfacing your Raspberry Pi to the outside “real” world, whether it is reading sensors, connecting to networks or driving actuators.


Contained within a 7 × 7 mm QFN-56 (Pico means very small) package, the RP2040 specification includes:

  • 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

The Pi team writes:

With two fast cores and and a large amount of on-chip RAM, RP2040 is a great platform for machine learning applications. You can find Pete Warden’s port of Google’s TensorFlow Lite framework here. Look out for more machine learning content over the coming months.

For beginners, and other users who prefer high-level languages, we’ve worked with Damien George, creator of MicroPython, to build a polished port for RP2040; it exposes all of the chip’s hardware features, including our innovative PIO subsystem. And our friend Aivar Annamaa has added RP2040 MicroPython support to the popular Thonny IDE.

The price of the Pi Pico is $4 (and it comes free on the cover, this month, of HackSpace magazine along with some guides and tutorials).

Why is the chip named the 2040? Our Technology Editor, Steve Bush, flags the explanatory page 8 of the datasheet.


But I also mentioned Arduino…

Eben Upton and the Pi team had shared their plans with the Arduino team, who welcomed the chance to build their own Arduino-shaped offering on the RP2020, the Arduino Nano RP2040 Connect. Not so much a rival to the Pico, as a brother…

Massimo Banzi and Fabio Violante (Arduino co-founder & chairman and CEO, respectively) have written:

‘Raspberry and chips,’ not something you’d like to eat but in the world of silicon it’s actually a great combination. Eben Upton recently shared with us Raspberry Pi’s exciting vision for a revolutionary product that they were working on: a microcontroller, the RP2040, based on Raspberry Pi silicon.

The news was both disruptive and exciting at the same time. At Arduino, we love to put our hands on innovative technologies, micros, sensors and all the building blocks that allow us to fulfil our mission of making technology simple to use for everyone. The curiosity was growing and a few weeks later we were already tinkering with the initial development tools. The processor is a very intriguing beast – it’s a dual-core Cortex-M0+ microcontroller with fairly sophisticated architecture.

They explain that they worked with the tiny footprint of the Nano format, keeping features such the versatile u-blox NINA WiFi and Bluetooth module.

But they promise the new board will also feature high-quality MEMS sensors from STM (a 9-axis IMU and a microphone), 16MB of flash memory (to provide space for code, data storage and over-the-air updates, and that its architecture will be enable people to use the RP2040 chip with the Arduino ecosystem (IDE, command line tool, libraries, etc).

The Arduino Nano RP2040 Connect will be available for pre-order “in the next few weeks” they say. Stay tuned.

Exciting times for electronics and Gadget Masters – could these releases enable your own, long-planned project?.

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