Raspberry PI RP2040 MCU platform

Raspberry PI has released their first MCU platform:

It is a dual core ARM mcu. It also has PIO (programmable IO state machines), which remind me of the PRUs in the AM35xx processors (I’ve never used either, so not sure how similar).

The PIOs seem like a very basic version of the PRUs. PRUs are very powerful, full on 200MHz RISC CPUs, arguably possibly more capable than the main Cortex-M0 cores found in the RP2040.

I don’t understand why the Raspberry Pi Foundation decided they needed their own microcontroller SoC. There’s already plenty of similar capability boards out there for comparable pricing. You can’t run Linux on a Cortex-M0 (at least not easily). And for just $1 more you get a full blown Linux board.

I read this https://www.tomshardware.com/news/raspberry-pi-pico-machine-learning-next-chip#xenforo-comments-3691610 and I see

  1. pico is quite successful since its launch
  2. Some ML accelarators are in store ( may be RISCV based MCUs ? remains to be seen)

Interesting – rPI has quite a brand – anything they do seems popular.

This podcast has some interesting insights into this product:

Some notes:

  • the main driver for this product was cost.
  • initial idea with PIO is to do more with less pins (again, less cost)
  • focus on user tooling experience
  • MicroPython seems to be getting very popular in MCU world

Some more notes about the RP2040 …

  • You can actually get it – Digi-key and Mouser have stock and Mouser lists lead time as 5 weeks.
  • Flash memory is off-chip in QSPI memory. They have an XIP cache, but having memory off-chip may affect RT latency in some applications if there are cache misses.
  • Their SDK is a Git clone, uses submodules, CMake, and is command-line first – this is the right way to do things rather than having everything locked up in an IDE.
  • Linux is the first class development system – Windows and MacOS are listed as the “Other” systems.
  • Documentation seems first class.

There is a lot I like about this. Somebody at rPI gets it.

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