In place of the Pico from a year ago, Raspberry Pi has unveiled the RP2040, a $4 microcontroller that is based on the company’s own-designed processor. The Pico W is the name of the new design. Although it adds an 802.11n Wi-Fi radio, as the name implies, it is essentially the same hardware and is therefore ideal for creating IoT projects and similar tasks. Additionally, it costs $6 more than the typical Pico.
Although a price increase of 50% is not negligible (especially if you intend to purchase numerous units), it is comprehensible why the W version is so much more expensive than the original. Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi, explained to Nilay Patel of The Verge that adding radios to goods is highly expensive. He claimed that the cost of radio compliance alone for a current Raspberry Pi product was close to $500,000. The $4 Pico will also remain available. You can still choose the more affordable option if price is a major consideration and you don’t need network connectivity.
The business claims that it used an Infineon CYW43439 chip to add wireless to the Pico. It’s odd that while Bluetooth is supported by that chip, Raspberry Pi claims it is not now active. (However, it gives the impression that it’s at least thinking about doing so in the future.)
Although there are add-ons to help your normal Pico connect to a network, they are far more expensive and heavier than having Wi-Fi built into the microcontroller itself, and they take up important pins that could be used for other exciting accessories. The Pico W just has everything pre-installed, and if you’d like, you can use it as a drop-in replacement for a project based on a conventional Pico.
In the era of Wi-Fi 6E, the Pico W’s 2.4GHz 802.11n connectivity may appear rather antiquated, but it’s important to remember that the Pico W isn’t designed to be a desktop computer that can browse the internet; rather, it’s created to control other electronics or physical devices. Now, though, it is capable of doing that while exchanging data across a network. An array of LEDs, for instance, might be controlled by a switch or button using a normal Pico. Even while you could still construct it using a Pico W, you would also be able to use your laptop to operate the lights.
The Pico H and Pico WH were two further Pico products that Raspberry Pi unveiled. They are identical to the Pico and Pico W, but cost a dollar more and have pre-attached pin headers and a debug connector, whereas the base models only have standard pad-like pins. In essence, you pay to make it simpler to attach things, which may or may not be worthwhile for everyone. (I personally might get the normal version only to have a reason to practise soldering more.) The WH won’t be available until August, although the H is currently on sale.
According to a press release from Raspberry Pi, because it’s hard to get chips, folks eager to experiment with electronics have gravitated to the Pico. Even though the manufacturer claims it will produce “tens of millions more” Picos, it has also run into trouble: anyone who has recently attempted to purchase one of its more sophisticated computers, such as the Raspberry Pi 4, is aware of how challenging it can be to get one in stock. The Pico, Pico W, and Pico H, however, are all being offered on a number of websites, including Pimoroni and The Pi Hut. The Pico W is listed on the websites of Adafruit and Cytron, and they promise that orders can be placed soon.