Based on the RP2040 Microcontroller Chip from the Raspberry Pi, that was introduced last year, the company upgraded the microcontroller with the possibility of a Wi-Fi connection. The updated model, called Pico W has the same hardware, with a 2.4 GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi radio (positioned in a metal shield) in addition. The new silicon solution features two Arm Cortex M0+ cores at 133 MHz and 264 KB of on-chip RAM, supporting an upgrade of up to 16 MB of off-chip Flash memory. It also comes with a 50% price increase, as equipping radios to products increases the price. Still, the new Pico W now comes at a price of only $6.
The main benefit of the new model is the possibility of IoT design project development. The Pico W is built for controlling different electronics and hardware devices, offering remote connectivity using Wi-Fi. The model is using an Infineon CYW43439 chip, that supports Bluetooth, but this feature is currently not offered by the Pico W yet.
The previous model priced at $4 will still be available if a network connection is not needed, or if a different option for a Wi-Fi connection is more desirable. This product was sold around two million after its launch in January 2021. It is possible to add and attach different accessories in order to equip a standard Pico model with Wi-Fi. However, these solutions might be more expensive than simply having the connectivity already built-in.
Raspberry also introduced two additional Pico Models, the Pico H ($5) and Pico WH ($7) (will follow in August), with pre-attached pin headers and 3-pin debug connector.
The main disadvantage however is the limitations of traditional Wi-Fi connections, as these can not properly work with a lot of devices connected to the network at a time, and have high power consumption.
Influenced by the semiconductor and chips shortage, the company promised that it will make tens of millions more products. The new Pico microcontrollers can be found across several sites, while some of them will be shortly available for order.