Author Archives: Eben Upton

Raspberry Silicon update: RP2040 on sale now at $1

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Back in January, we launched Raspberry Pi Pico. This was a new kind of product for us: our first microcontroller-class board, and the first to be built on RP2040, a chip designed here at Raspberry Pi. At the same time, we announced RP2040-based products from our friends at Adafruit, Arduino, Sparkfun, and Pimoroni.

Today, we’re announcing the logical next step: RP2040 chips are now available from our Approved Reseller partners in single-unit quantities, allowing you to build your own projects and products on Raspberry Silicon.

RP2040: the microcontroller, perfected

RP2040 is our idea of the perfect mid-range microcontroller, based on years of using other vendors’ devices in our own products and projects. It stands out in three key ways:

  • Two fast CPU cores. A pair of ARM Cortex-M0+ cores, clocked at 133 MHz, provide ample integer performance. Use one core to run application code, and the other to supervise hardware; or run application code on both cores with FreeRTOS or MicroPython.
  • Plenty of RAM. With 264KB of RAM, you can concentrate on implementing features, not optimising your application for size. A fully connected switch connects ARM cores and DMA engines to six independent RAM banks, allowing you to squeeze every last drop of performance out of the system.
  • Flexible I/O. We provide all the usual interfaces: hardware UARTs, SPI and I2C controllers, USB 1.1, and a four-channel ADC. But it’s the programmable I/O (PIO) subsystem that makes RP2040 stand out, enabling software implementations of protocols including SDIO, DPI, I2S, and even DVI-D.

All of this is packed into 2 mm² of 40 nm silicon, in a 7×7 mm QFN56 package.

Early progress

A lot has happened since January. We’ve shipped over 600,000 Raspberry Pi Picos, and have taken orders for 700,000 more. Graham has continued to build out the SDK, most recently adding FreeRTOS support. And hundreds of people have been in touch asking for RP2040 samples, many via our patented “Secret Twitter Samples Program”. Some of these are maker businesses that have found themselves effectively unable to build products this year due to the global semiconductor shortage.

Based on this experience, we’ve decided to pull about 40,000 units of RP2040 out of the supply chain and boot up single-unit sales via our Approved Resellers, roughly three months earlier than we’d intended. This will give people time to develop their projects and products, while we clear out the rest of the Pico backlog and scale up production of RP2040. In the autumn we’ll have some serious volume available for anyone who needs it.

Reely, reely good

The single-unit price of RP2040 is $1, giving you a lot of bang for your (literal) buck. We’re still figuring out what reel-scale pricing will look like in the autumn, but we expect it to be significantly lower than that.

So head on over to the product page to order your first chips. When you’re ready to take your RP2040-based project to scale, we’ll be waiting for you.

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Pi Day at the Raspberry Pi Foundation

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Pi Day is a special occasion for people all around the world (your preferred date format notwithstanding), and I love seeing all the ways that makers, students, and educators celebrate. This year at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we’re embracing Pi Day as a time to support young learners and creators in our community. Today, we launch our first Pi Day fundraising campaign. From now until 14 March, I’d like to ask for your help to empower young people worldwide to learn computing and become confident, creative digital makers and engineers.

A boy using a Raspberry Pi desktop computer to code

Millions of learners use the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s online coding projects to develop new skills and get creative with technology. Your donation to the Pi Day campaign will support young people to access these high-quality online resources, which they need more urgently than ever amidst disruptions to schools and coding clubs. Did I mention that our online projects are offered completely free and in dozens of languages? That’s possible thanks to Raspberry Pi customers and donors who power our educational mission.

It’s not only young people who rely on the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s free online coding projects, but also teachers, educators, and volunteers in coding clubs:

“The project resources for Python and Scratch make it really easy for the children to learn programming and create projects successfully, even if they have limited prior experience — they are excellent.”

— Code Club educator in the UK

“The best thing […] is the accessibility to a variety of projects and ease of use for a variety of ages and needs. I love checking the site for what I may have missed and the next project my students can do!”

— Code Club educator in the USA
Two girls doing physical computing with Raspberry Pi

Your Pi Day gift will make double the impact thanks to our partner EPAM, who is generously matching all donations up to a total of $5000. As a special thanks to each of you who contributes, you’ll have the option to see your name listed in an upcoming issue of The MagPi magazine!

All young people deserve the opportunity to thrive in today’s technology-driven world. As a donor to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, you can make this a reality. Any amount you are able to give to our Pi Day campaign — whether it’s $3.14, $31.42, or even more — makes a difference. You also have the option to sign up as a monthly donor.

Let’s come together to give young people the tools they need to make things, solve problems, and shape their future using technology. Thank you.

A banner with the words "Be a Pi Day donor today"

PS Thanks again to EPAM for partnering with us to match your gifts up to $5000 until 14 March, and to CanaKit for their generous Pi Day contribution of $3141!

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Vulkan update: we’re conformant!

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Today we have a guest post from Igalia’s Iago Toral, who has spent the past year working on the Mesa graphic driver stack for Raspberry Pi 4.

It’s been nearly a year since we first announced that we were developing a Vulkan driver for the latest generation of Raspberry Pi devices (Raspberry Pi 4, Raspberry Pi 400, and Compute Module 4).

Sascha Willems’ Vulkan radial blur demo

In June we released the source code for our prototype driver, and last month we announced that the driver had been successfully merged to Mesa upstream.

Today we have some very exciting news to share: as of 24 November the V3DV Vulkan Mesa driver for Raspberry Pi 4 has demonstrated Vulkan 1.0 conformance.

Khronos describes the conformance process as a way to ensure that its standards are consistently implemented by multiple vendors, so as to create a reliable platform for application developers. For each standard, Khronos provides a large conformance test suite (CTS) that implementations must pass successfully to be declared conformant; in the case of Vulkan 1.0, the CTS contains over 100,000 tests.

Vulkan 1.0 conformance is a major milestone in bringing Vulkan to Raspberry Pi, but it isn’t the end of the journey. Our team continues to work on all fronts to expand the Vulkan feature set, improve performance, and fix bugs. So stay tuned for future Vulkan updates!

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Raspberry Pi 400: the $70 desktop PC

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Raspberry Pi has always been a PC company. Inspired by the home computers of the 1980s, our mission is to put affordable, high-performance, programmable computers into the hands of people all over the world. And inspired by these classic PCs, here is Raspberry Pi 400: a complete personal computer, built into a compact keyboard.

Raspberry Pi 4, which we launched in June last year, is roughly forty times as powerful as the original Raspberry Pi, and offers an experience that is indistinguishable from a legacy PC for the majority of users. Particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a rapid increase in the use of Raspberry Pi 4 for home working and studying.

A front view of the Raspberry Pi keyboard

But user friendliness is about more than performance: it can also be about form factor. In particular, having fewer objects on your desk makes for a simpler set-up experience. Classic home computers – BBC Micros, ZX Spectrums, Commodore Amigas, and the rest – integrated the motherboard directly into the keyboard. No separate system unit and case; no keyboard cable. Just a computer, a power supply, a monitor cable, and (sometimes) a mouse.

Raspberry Pi 400

We’ve never been shy about borrowing a good idea. Which brings us to Raspberry Pi 400: it’s a faster, cooler 4GB Raspberry Pi 4, integrated into a compact keyboard. Priced at just $70 for the computer on its own, or $100 for a ready-to-go kit, if you’re looking for an affordable PC for day-to-day use this is the Raspberry Pi for you.

Buy the kit

The Raspberry Pi 400 Personal Computer Kit is the “Christmas morning” product, with the best possible out-of-box experience: a complete PC which plugs into your TV or monitor. The kit comprises:

  • A Raspberry Pi 400 computer
  • Our official USB mouse
  • Our official USB-C power supply
  • An SD card with Raspberry Pi OS pre-installed
  • A micro HDMI to HDMI cable
  • The official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide

At launch, we are supporting English (UK and US), French, Italian, German, and Spanish keyboard layouts, with (for the first time) translated versions of the Beginner’s Guide. In the near future, we plan to support the same set of languages as our official keyboard.

Buy the computer

Saving money by bringing your own peripherals has always been part of the Raspberry Pi ethos. If you already have the other bits of the kit, you can buy a Raspberry Pi 400 computer on its own for just $70.

A close up of the left-hand keys of the Raspberry Pi 400

Buy the book

To accompany Raspberry Pi 400, we’ve released a fourth edition of our popular Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide, packed with updated material to help you get the most out of your new PC.

You can buy a copy of the Beginner’s Guide today from the Raspberry Pi Press store, or download a free PDF.

Where to buy Raspberry Pi 400

UK, US, and French Raspberry Pi 400 kits and computers are available to buy right now. Italian, German, and Spanish units are on their way to Raspberry Pi Approved Resellers, who should have them in stock in the next week.

We expect that Approved Resellers in India, Australia, and New Zealand will have kits and computers in stock by the end of the year. We’re rapidly rolling out compliance certification for other territories too, so that Raspberry Pi 400 will be available around the world in the first few months of 2021.

Of course, if you’re anywhere near Cambridge, you can head over to the Raspberry Pi Store to pick up your Raspberry Pi 400 today.

What does everyone else think?

We let a handful of people take an early look at Raspberry Pi 400 so they could try it out and pull together their thoughts to share with you. Here’s what some of them made of it.

Simon Martin, who has spent the last couple of years bringing Raspberry Pi 400 to life, will be here tomorrow to share some of the interesting technical challenges that he encountered along the way. In the meantime, start thinking about what you’ll do with your Raspberry Pi PC.

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Vulkan update: merged to Mesa

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Today we have another guest post from Igalia’s Iago Toral, who has spent the past year working on the Mesa graphic driver stack for Raspberry Pi 4.

Four months ago we announced that work on the Vulkan effort for Raspberry Pi 4 (v3dv) was progressing well, and that we were moving the development to an open repository.

vkQuake3 on Raspberry Pi 4

This week, the Vulkan driver for Raspberry Pi 4 has been merged with Mesa upstream, becoming one of the official Vulkan Mesa drivers. This brings several advantages:

  • Easier to find: now anyone willing to test the driver just needs to go to the official Mesa repository
  • Bug tracking: issues/bugs can now be filed on the official Mesa repository bug tracker. If the problem affects other parts of the project, it will be easier for us to involve other Mesa developers.
  • Releasing: v3dv will be included in all Mesa releases. In due course, you will no longer need to go to an external repository to obtain the driver, as it will be included in the Mesa package for your distribution.
  • Maintenance: v3dv will be included in the Mesa Continuous Integration system, so every merge request will be tested to ensure that our driver still builds. More effort can go to new features and bug fixes rather than just keeping up with upstream changes.

Progress, and current status

We said back in June that we were passing over 70,000 tests from the Khronos Conformance Test Suite for Vulkan 1.0, and that we had an implementation for a significant subset of the Vulkan 1.0 API. Now we are passing over 100,000 tests, and have implemented the full Vulkan 1.0 API. Only a handful of CTS tests remain to be fixed.

Sascha Willems’ deferred multisampling demo

This doesn’t mean that our work is done, of course. Although the CTS is a really complete test suite, it is not the same as a real use case. As mentioned some of our updates, we have been testing the driver with Vulkan ports of the original Quake trilogy, but deeper and more detailed testing is needed. So the next step will be to test the driver with more use cases, and fixing any bugs or performance issues that we find during the process.

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Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 on sale now from $25

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It’s become a tradition that we follow each Raspberry Pi model with a system-on-module variant based on the same core silicon. Raspberry Pi 1 gave rise to the original Compute Module in 2014; Raspberry Pi 3 and 3+ were followed by Compute Module 3 and 3+ in 2017 and 2019 respectively. Only Raspberry Pi 2, our shortest-lived flagship product at just thirteen months, escaped the Compute Module treatment.

It’s been sixteen months since we unleashed Raspberry Pi 4 on the world, and today we’re announcing the launch of Compute Module 4, starting from $25.

Over half of the seven million Raspberry Pi units we sell each year go into industrial and commercial applications, from digital signage to thin clients to process automation. Many of these applications use the familiar single-board Raspberry Pi, but for users who want a more compact or custom form factor, or on-board eMMC storage, Compute Module products provide a simple way to move from a Raspberry Pi-based prototype to volume production.

A step change in performance

Built on the same 64-bit quad-core BCM2711 application processor as Raspberry Pi 4, our Compute Module 4 delivers a step change in performance over its predecessors: faster CPU cores, better multimedia, more interfacing capabilities, and, for the first time, a choice of RAM densities and a wireless connectivity option.

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4
Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4

You can find detailed specs here, but let’s run through the highlights:

  • 1.5GHz quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A72 CPU
  • VideoCore VI graphics, supporting OpenGL ES 3.x
  • 4Kp60 hardware decode of H.265 (HEVC) video
  • 1080p60 hardware decode, and 1080p30 hardware encode of H.264 (AVC) video
  • Dual HDMI interfaces, at resolutions up to 4K
  • Single-lane PCI Express 2.0 interface
  • Dual MIPI DSI display, and dual MIPI CSI-2 camera interfaces
  • 1GB, 2GB, 4GB or 8GB LPDDR4-3200 SDRAM
  • Optional 8GB, 16GB or 32GB eMMC Flash storage
  • Optional 2.4GHz and 5GHz IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac wireless LAN and Bluetooth 5.0
  • Gigabit Ethernet PHY with IEEE 1588 support
  • 28 GPIO pins, with up to 6 × UART, 6 × I2C and 5 × SPI
Compute Module 4 Lite (without eMMC Flash memory)
Compute Module 4 Lite, our variant without eMMC Flash memory

New, more compact form factor

Compute Module 4 introduces a brand new form factor, and a compatibility break with earlier Compute Modules. Where previous modules adopted the JEDEC DDR2 SODIMM mechanical standard, with I/O signals on an edge connector, we now bring I/O signals to two high-density perpendicular connectors (one for power and low-speed interfaces, and one for high-speed interfaces).

This significantly reduces the overall footprint of the module on its carrier board, letting you achieve smaller form factors for your products.

High-density connector on board underside
High-density connector on board underside

32 variants

With four RAM options, four Flash options, and optional wireless connectivity, we have a total of 32 variants, with prices ranging from $25 (for the 1GB RAM, Lite, no wireless variant) to $90 (for the 8GB RAM, 32GB Flash, wireless variant).

We’re very pleased that the four variants with 1GB RAM and no wireless keep the same price points ($25, $30, $35, and $40) as their Compute Module 3+ equivalents: once again, we’ve managed to pack a lot more performance into the platform without increasing the price.

You can find the full price list in the Compute Module 4 product brief.

Compute Module 4 IO Board

To help you get started with Compute Module 4, we are also launching an updated IO Board. Like the IO boards for earlier Compute Module products, this breaks out all the interfaces from the Compute Module to standard connectors, providing a ready-made development platform and a starting point for your own designs.

Compute Module 4 IO Board
Compute Module 4 IO Board

The IO board provides:

  • Two full-size HDMI ports
  • Gigabit Ethernet jack
  • Two USB 2.0 ports
  • MicroSD card socket (only for use with Lite, no-eMMC Compute Module 4 variants)
  • PCI Express Gen 2 x1 socket
  • HAT footprint with 40-pin GPIO connector and PoE header
  • 12V input via barrel jack (supports up to 26V if PCIe unused)
  • Camera and display FPC connectors
  • Real-time clock with battery backup

CAD for the IO board is available in KiCad format. You may recall that a few years ago we made a donation to support improvements to KiCad’s differential pair routing and track length control features; now you can use this feature-rich, open-source PCB layout package to design your own Compute Module carrier board.

Compute Module 4 mounted on the IO Board
Compute Module 4 mounted on the IO Board

In addition to serving as a development platform and reference design, we expect the IO board to be a finished product in its own right: if you require a Raspberry Pi that supports a wider range of input voltages, has all its major connectors in a single plane, or allows you to attach your own PCI Express devices, then Compute Module 4 with the IO Board does what you need.

We’ve set the price of the bare IO board at just $35, so a complete package including a Compute Module starts from $60.

Compute Module 4 Antenna Kit

We expect that most users of wireless Compute Module variants will be happy with the on-board PCB antenna. However, in some circumstances – for example, where the product is in a metal case, or where it is not possible to provide the necessary ground plane cut-out under the module – an external antenna will be required. The Compute Module 4 Antenna Kit comprises a whip antenna, with a bulkhead screw fixture and U.FL connector to attach to the socket on the module.

Antenna Kit and Compute Module 4
Antenna Kit and Compute Module 4

When using ether the Antenna Kit or the on-board antenna, you can take advantage of our modular certification to reduce the conformance testing costs for your finished product. And remember, the Raspberry Pi Integrator Programme is there to help you get your Compute Module-based product to market.

Our most powerful Compute Module

This is our best Compute Module yet. It’s also our first product designed by Dominic Plunkett, who joined us almost exactly a year ago.

I sat down with Dominic last week to discuss Compute Module 4 in greater detail, and you can find the video of our conversation here. Dominic will also be sharing more technical detail in the blog tomorrow.

In the meantime, check out the Compute Module 4 page for the datasheet and other details, and start thinking about what you’ll build with Compute Module 4.

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