The Raspberry Pi Zero series is the smallest version of the popular single-board computer most people have experience with, but there’s a Pi that’s even smaller: the Raspberry Pi Pico. Launched in January 2021 for just $4, Pico’s RP2040 microcontroller includes a pair of 133MHz Arm Cortex-M0+ CPU cores and 264 kilobytes (not megabytes) of memory. The low specs and low price make it well suited for single-purpose devices that don’t require as much processing power, rather than running general-purpose software like a large Pi board.
To help companies that want to use the Pico for Internet-connected smart devices, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is introducing some new variants of the Pico today. Most notable, the Raspberry Pi Pico W adds built-in Wi-Fi connectivity to the board, raising the price from $4 to $6.
Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton writes that the Infineon CYW43439 Wi-Fi chip being used for the Pi Pico uses the older 2.4 GHz-only 802.11n (or Wi-Fi 4) protocol. That chipset also includes built-in Bluetooth support like most other Wireless Pie products, but Bluetooth support is currently disabled. Adding Bluetooth to devices typically requires another layer of Federal Communications Commission certification in the US, and other regions have their own rules, which may explain the omission. Upton says Bluetooth support could be enabled “in the future.”
There will be two additional versions of the Pico that add pre-installed header pins and a three-pin debug connector to the original Pico board. Called the “Pico H,” a version without Wi-Fi will cost $5 instead of $4, and a Pico WH version with Wi-Fi will run $7 instead of $6.