Exploring Raspberry Pi Pico vs. Other Microcontrollers: A Comparative Analysis

Exploring Raspberry Pi Pico vs. Other Microcontrollers: A Comparative Analysis


In the field of microcontrollers, the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s creation, the Raspberry Pi Pico, is revolutionary. For embedded projects, it provides a small-sized, high-performing solution. This solution encourages creativity and innovation in the industry.

Moreover, novice and seasoned developers prefer this microcontroller. This is due to its adaptability and programmability. You can integrate it easily into a wide range of applications. From robotics to home automation, its low cost and robust community support make it highly functional.

We will compare the distinctive qualities, benefits, and numerous applications of the Raspberry Pi Pico here. This will help you decide better when looking for a good microcontroller.

What Is A Microcontroller?

Raspberry Pi Pico

Embedded systems are governed by a compact integrated circuit known as a microcontroller. It comprises a processor, memory, and I/O peripherals on a single chip. Microcontrollers prove useful for various devices, such as:

  • Vehicles.
  • Robots.
  • Office machines.
  • Medical devices.
  • Mobile radio transceivers.
  • Vending machines.
  • Home appliances. 

They are personal computers. However, microcontrollers are less complex. They manage small aspects of a larger component. Additionally, these computers do not have a sophisticated front-end operating system. Microcontrollers are responsible for interpreting data from I/O peripherals. Moreover, they access temporary information in data memory.

These devices use instructions stored in program memory to decode and apply the incoming data. Users frequently employ multiple microcontrollers for specific tasks. For instance, a car may have several microcontrollers. Each of them manages different functions that communicate with one another to carry out their designated tasks.

How Does Raspberry Pi Pico Work?

Raspberry Pi Pico

The Raspberry Pi Foundation, in partnership with Broadcom, created the versatile IoT board Raspberry Pi Pico. Moreover, priced at only $4, this microcontroller board functions on silicon and is smaller than the average Pi. This new board represents the foundation’s foray into custom silicon and microcontrollers.

Therefore, various projects use it. This includes data logging, small to medium-scale robotics, analog sensing, camera interfacing, and IoT. To set it up, hold down the white boot button on the Pico. Next, connect the other end of the USB cable to your laptop, whether it runs on a Mac, Raspberry Pi, or Windows PC. All in all, the Raspberry Pi Pico marks a milestone in Raspberry Pi’s expansion into custom silicon and microcontrollers.

Comparing Other Microcontrollers

Given below are five major microcontrollers that come to compete with the Raspberry Pi Pico closely. Here we have a comparison of these microcontrollers:

1. Arduino Uno

The Raspberry Pi Pico is a popular choice for those seeking raw processing power, low cost, GPIO flexibility, and a growing ecosystem. Moreover, it has a faster processor, more flash memory, and more GPIO pins. Additionally, its control over PWM signals touched excellence. Also, its dual-core processor is suitable for multithreaded programs.

On the other hand, Arduino’s RP2040 Connect is the first RP2040-based development board featuring the same MCU and similar specifications. However, the Pico is slightly larger and offers more usable GPIO pins. Both boards provide hardware compatibility, a vast community, and an easy-to-use IDE.

2. ESP8266

If you’re familiar with ESP8266/ESP32, you may wonder if it’s worth switching to the Pico micro.

However, the answer depends on why you want to make the change.

If you already use ESP in your production work, stick with it.

Moreover, the Pico is a capable micro, but it’s important to consider your specific needs before making any changes.

3. Seeed XIAO RP2040

Both boards use the rp2040 chip and are compatible with Arduino IDE and Micropython.

They run at the same speed of 133MHz.

The Seeed XIAO board has fewer pins compared to the RPI pico. Therefore, it comes with fewer digital, PWM, ADC, and interface pins.

The Seeed XIAO board has 1x i2c, 1x spi, and 1x uart. However, the RPI pico has 2x spi, 2x i2c, and 2x uart.

4. Adafruit QT Py RP2040

The QTPy RP2040 is an affordable and user-friendly tool. It can become even more useful with Adafruit’s MicroPython fork, CircuitPython.

Moreover, it comes with many code libraries for Stemma QT / Qwiic components.

It’s worth having the QTPy RP2040 included in your project box, even if you already have a Raspberry Pi Pico.

5. Pimoroni Pico Lipo

The Pico LiPo from Pimoroni has a more advanced version of the Raspberry Pi Pico.

However, it has the same size and shape, as well as the same GPIO pin layout.

Additionally, it also includes features like Stemma QT / Qwiic, battery charging, and a toggle power button.

Lastly, the most important feature is the ability to charge the battery.

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