Raspberry Pi Direct Aims to Beat the Chip Shortages with 20m RP2040s, Sold as Low as $0.70 Per Chip

"We have material on hand for roughly 20 million units," says Eben Upton, "with more on the way."

Gareth Halfacree
4 months agoHW101

Raspberry Pi has announced that it is to begin selling its in-house RP2040 microcontroller directly to customers in reel quantities — dropping the price from $1 a chip to $0.70, and with enough material to make a claimed 20 million units waiting in the wings as an answer for projects stalled by shortages of rival parts.

Raspberry Pi launched the RP2040 on the Raspberry Pi Pico development board almost a year ago, as the first output of its in-house silicon team. Its first shot at a microcontroller, the RP2040 has a dual-core Arm Cortex-M0+ processor, 264kB of static RAM (SRAM), a selection of general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins including 16 with pulse-width modulation (PWM) support, four analog inputs, two UARTs, two I2Cs, two SPI buses, an internal temperature probe, USB support, and eight programmable input/output (PIO) state machines.

That all this functionality was available in a through-hole and surface-mount development board-cum-module at just $4 impressed; when Raspberry Pi announced it was to begin selling the chips on their own at just $1, that turned to amazement. Since then nearly a hundred RP2040-powered designs have hit the market — and now Raspberry Pi's aiming to make it easier for others to join in the fun.

"We're launching Raspberry Pi Direct, a service which will allow people to buy the RP2040 microcontroller directly from us a reel at a time (that's 500-units and up)," Eben Upton told us via email. "Pricing is $0.70 at 3,400-off, and $0.80 at 500-off, so even lower than the $1 single-unit pricing available through our Approved Reseller network."

"We've been helping maker businesses who have run short of other microcontroller silicon migrate to RP2040 on an ad hoc basis, and with the silicon shortage now into its second year it felt like we should roll this out more widely. We have material on hand for roughly 20 million units, with more on the way, so hopefully we should be able to ride out the rest of the shortage."

Raspberry Pi Direct is now live on the company's website, and is open for direct-to-business sales; individuals looking to buy the parts are still being pointed at the reseller network, where each chip is priced at $1.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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