Raspberry Pi launches Pico, $ 4 microcontroller with Chipset

Raspberry Pi Foundation, the company responsible for the famous homonymous microcomputer, has just launched an exciting new product: Pico, a microcontroller board in the mould of the well-known Arduino.

The difference is that this launch is much cheaper: while an Arduino Micro (simpler version) costs US $ 18.40 (about R $ 98 in the direct quotation and without fees), the Raspberry Pi Pico was launched for the modest US $ 4 (or R $ 21).

Alternative to the Raspberry Pi is so cheap and better than the original.

The idea is that the maker and DIY community (“do it yourself”, in English) can have fun with the device in their electronics, robotics and IoT projects. Again, Pico is not a computer, but a “brain” designed to control other devices – LED lights, sensors, LCD screens, etc. – from a code programmed by the user. In this case, this sign works with C and MicroPython languages, which are very friendly for beginners.

However, the most exciting thing is that Pico has at its heart a proprietary chipset manufactured by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Named RP2040, the system-on-chip (SoC) has a two-core (133 MHz) ARM Cortex-M0 + processor, 264 KB SRAM memory and 2 MB of flash storage. There is a micro USB connector and several pins for connecting peripherals.

The Foundation is so convinced that Pico is the most affordable microcontroller on the market. It even published a book – which can be purchased separately – for beginners in this sector. The guide explains how to program the card using MicroPython and even includes some ready-made projects that you can do with other inexpensive inputs to learn in practice.

The Raspberry Pi Pico is already available at several resellers around the world. Unfortunately, in Brazil, we only found the gadget at one supplier for the price of R $ 49 – much more expensive than the original R $ 21 for the conversion direct, since we have added taxes and a retailer’s profit margin.

Raspberry Pi is low in cost computer that is the size of a credit card developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation of UK. To use it, plug a standard keyboard and mouse into it and connect it to a monitor or television. Models cost between $ 25 and $ 35.

The gadget’s essential function is to offer a cheap, practical and affordable alternative for people of different ages to explore all the capabilities of computing. Besides, it also aims to facilitate the learning of programming in languages ??such as Scratch and Python.

Above all, despite the small size and unconventional features, the Raspberry Pi is a computer like any other. This means that it can be used for internet browsing, reproducing multimedia content, creating content in the form of text, spreadsheets and images and, of course, for games.

Raspberry Pi : Incentive to programming

In 2006, members of the Computing Laboratory at the University of Cambridge in the UK, Eben Upton, Rob Mullins, Jack Lang and Alan Mycroft thought of stopping the gradual decline in students’ interest in computer science in the country.

Unlike the scenario of the 1990s, it was common seeing children in a way involved. It is interested in the type of activity. The 2000s marked a curb in this regard. The quartet believed that the basis of this was in problems in the curriculum in computer courses and in a new technological landscape with which young people came into contact.

The expansion of the internet, the focus on creating web pages in programming courses, and cutting-edge consoles and PCs replacing the classic machines (for which they should be programming) at the time of gambling were the main points raised by them.

Despite recognizing the difficulties they faced in identifying curricular problems in educational institutions and new market dynamics with the web’s expansion, they decided to get their hands dirty. Then came the idea of ??creating a cheap and small device so that young people and teenagers (but not only them) could explore computing.

The first steps
Between 2006 and 2008, the quartet developed several prototypes based on the Atmel ATmega644 microcontroller, which would serve as the basis for the Raspberry Pi as we know it today. The expansion of mobile devices also helped, as from 2008, it was already possible to have access to smaller, more powerful and complete processors than we had until then.

That year, the Raspberry Pi Foundation was founded, a non-profit organization so that the development of a cheap and affordable single-board computer could happen. Three years after the creation of the Foundation, the first model started to be mass-produced.

Notable small
After the year of 2011 full of experiments and focus on development, the following year would mark the gadget’s debut in the market. As of February 2012, the Raspberry Pi Foundation starts accepting orders for its first model, the Raspberry Pi Model A.

Costing US $ 25 (around R $ 80 these days in simple conversion), it had a Broadcom BCM2835 System-on-chip (with CPU, GPU, SDRAM, DSP and a USB port), in addition to 256 MB of RAM and 700 MHz single-core ARM processor. The gadget storage was due to a card slot with support for SD, MMC and SDIO formats.

Since then, five models have been launched: Model A +, Model B, Model B +, the Compute Module and, finally, the Generation 2 Model B. The second generation of the gadget was recently launched in February 2015 for the price of US $ 35 (value close to R $ 110).

The gadget comes with a MicroSDHC slot for a memory card, features a 900 MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU and has 1 GB of shared RAM. Also, it has four USB 2.0 ports.