Raspberry Pi RP2040 chip.
Raspberry Pi Foundation

The Raspberry Pi Foundation kicked off 2021 with the Pi Pico, a microcontroller built on the new RP2040 chip. Now, the British board maker is selling individual units of the RP2040 for just $1 each, providing an accessible new platform for hardware developers during a global chip shortage.

Often referred to as Raspberry Silicon, RP2040 is the first microcontroller chip developed in-house by the Pi Foundation. It features a pair of ARM Cortex-M0+ cores clocked at 133 MHz, 264KB of RAM, and a switch connecting ARM cores and DMA engines to six independent RAM banks. These specs offer a ton of flexibility for IoT projects, which is part of the reason why Arduino uses an RP2040 chip in its new Nano controller.

But that’s not all; the RP2040 packs flexible I/O, with interfaces for hardware UARTs, SPI and I2C controllers, USB 1.1, and a four-channel ADC. There’s also a programmable I/O subsystem to work with protocols like SDIO, DPI, I2S, and even DVI-D.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation planned to start selling RP2040 chips roughly three months from now but changed its strategy due to the high demand for small, affordable chips. Evidently, the Foundation was impressed by how many small developers asked for RP2040 samples on Twitter and chose to pull around 40,000 RP2040 chips out of its manufacturing supply chain for direct sale through Cytron and RS.

You can order the RP2040 chip now through select resellers. The Pi Foundation plans to sell bulk reels of the RP2040 later this year, likely bringing the price down to less than $1 per unit.