RP2040 – Low Cost Microcontroller by RASPBERRY PI

Raspberry Pi foundation released their first microcontroller PICO board a few months back, using their in-house designed microcontroller RP2040. Microcontrollers hold a 70-80% market share compared with processors so it is definitely a great move.

Developers have always wished to get access to the RP2040 microcontroller chip itself so that, they can build any project they want with much more flexibility.

The good news is, MCU chip is available now. You can build your product using the RP2040 microcontroller and don’t need to use the whole PICO board.

RP2040 - Low Cost Microcontroller by RASPBERRY PI 1
Image credit: Raspberry Pi website
RP2040 - Low Cost Microcontroller by RASPBERRY PI 2
RP2040 Internals (Image credit: Raspberry Pi website)

Technical Specification

  • Dual-core Arm Cortex-M0+ processor, flexible clock running up to 133 MHz
  • External QSPI Flash Memory (XIP) interface
  • 264KB on-chip SRAM
  • 2 × UART
  • 2 × SPI
  • 2 × I2C
  • 16 × PWM channels
  • 1 × USB 1.1 controller and PHY, with host and device support
  • 2 × Programmable I/O (PIO) with 4 state machines each for custom peripheral support
  • Supported input power 1.8–5.5V DC
  • Operating temperature -20°C to +85°C
  • Drag-and-drop programming using mass storage over USB
  • Low-power sleep and dormant modes
  • Accurate on-chip clock
  • On-chip Temperature sensor (+-3%)
  • Accelerated integer and floating-point libraries on-chip
  • IC package: 7 × 7 mm QFN-56 package

RP2040 Availability & Cost

As per the Raspberry Pi foundation “RP2040 will remain in production until at least
January 2030

The RP2040 MCU is available for ~1$ whether you buy one or 10000 units :), the price may be a little different in your nearby stores. They are already available with the distributors.

What’s the advantage of RP2040 vs ESP32?

There are a lot of MCUs already available in the market so what is so unique about RP2040? See the comparison with ESP32 which is in close competition with the chip.

  • RP2040
    • ARM Context M0+ Core
    • Dual-core CPU running at 133 Mhz
    • 264KB RAM
    • No Flash(external QSPI up to 16MB)
    • USB 1.1 (Host and Client)
    • 2x UART
    • 2x I2C
    • 2x SPI
    • 12-bit ADC
    • 2x PIO (SDIO, VGA, Audio, Parallel LCD, Camera, etc.)
    • 16x PWM
    • No direct ethernet support
    • No WiFi & Bluetooth
    • Voltage: 1.8 – 5.5V
    • Temperature: -20 to 85 Deg C
    • Cost ~1$
    • Package QFN56

  • ESP32 (Dual-Core)
    • Xtensa® dual-core 32-bit LX6
    • Dual-core 240Mhz
    • 520KB RAM
    • 448KB Flash (+ external QSPI up to
    • USB available on ESP32-S2/S3 chip
    • 3x UART
    • 2x I2C
    • 4x SPI
    • 12-bit ADC
    • SDIO
    • 2x I2S, 1x Camera Port(8/16bit)
    • 2×8 PWM
    • 1x Ethernet (external Phy required)
    • WiFi & Bluetooth available
    • Voltage: 2.3 – 3.6V
    • Temperature: -40 to 125 Deg C
    • Cost ~1.5$
    • Package QFN48

A bit more detailed comparison by Andreas Spiess

So, what do you think about this microcontroller, do you think this will be useful for some of your products?

Hope you found the information useful.

If you like this post, please share it with others. Any suggestions or comments, let me know.

Read my other articles on embedded systems design.

Happy learning to you!


  1. The popularity is due to already popular Raspberry Pi Community.

    Abhishek, I think other than PIO, there is nothing unique to be honest. The documentation and superb software ecosystem support is another thing which is driving the attention and interest.

  2. Raspberry Pi’s first in-house silicon tape out RP2040 has got a lot of attention for several reasons including the Programmable IOs.

    Check out this detailed article RP2040 PIOs: https://www.cnx-software.com/2021/01/27/a-closer-look-at-raspberry-pi-rp2040-programmable-ios-pio/

    Also, other reasons why RP2040 has captured the market in 2021: https://www.embeddedcomputing.com/technology/open-source/development-kits/why-raspberry-pis-rp2040-is-the-popular-choice-for-development-boards

    Pallav Aggarwal, let me know your thoughts on this.

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