Raspberry Pi is known as an SBC, a single-board computer with a processor, RAM, and ports. In simple terms, it’s a mini-computer capable of running various operating systems like Windows, Linux, ChromeOS, etc. It’s like a computer onboard. The Raspberry Pi Pico is a new microcontroller-only device just added to the family. An MCU runs one program at a time rather than multitasking and requires external RAM and disc storage to work. If there’s someone in the market, who can give a tough competition to the new Raspberry Pi Pico, it has to be Arduino. In 2005, Arduino published its first prototyping tool for machine design students who had no fundamental understanding of electronics and programming. In this post, I will compare Raspberry Pi Pico vs Arduino and review which one is better.
Raspberry Pi Pico vs Arduino
What imparts the Raspberry Pi Pico is the GPIO pins. Arduino also has it but what Pico gives an edge is that it offers a series of programmable I/O pins, which you can configure to simulate other interfaces/protocols. Complex tasks can also be delegated to a background process using them. The Raspberry Pi Pico is a low-cost “Swiss Army knife” of GPIO pins, with all of this on a $4 board. Compared to Arduino microcontrollers, the Raspberry Pi Pico has better functionality and is easy to use.
Hands down to the Raspberry Pi Pico, they nailed it in hardware offering. Arduino MCUs that come under $20 are not even a match for it, and for the $20, you can buy five Raspberry Pi Pico. The Raspberry Pi Pico includes a significantly powerful dual-core ARM Cortex M0+ processor with a clock frequency of 133MHz, almost 8x faster than Arduino UNO’s 328P. The RAM on Raspberry Pi Pico is 264KB, again, a lot more than UNO’s 2KB, and the case is the same with the flash memory, while in Arduino’s, it is only 32KB; on the other hand, there is a 2MP flash storage in Raspberry Pi Pico. There is one flagship model in Arduino’s lineup, but its price is about $109, and for the very same price, you can buy around 27 Raspberry Pi Pico. Again, the winner is Raspberry Pi Pico.
Many Arduino project owners widely use the Arduino IDE, and there are alternatives to it, such as PlatformIO and Arduino Create. The Arduino IDE has advanced over time, its built-in features, specifically. The new Raspberry Pi Pico supports C and MicroPython languages, and the official suggests using MicroPython for new users as it has a lot of room for creativity. You have two primary options if you want to develop C code on your Raspberry Pi Pico. Set up Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code and utilize several extensions to construct a workflow to build and flash code to the Pico, or write the code in an editor (Vi / Vim, nano, etc.) and then compile it using terminal tools. Both of these options are viable, but neither is the most user-friendly. MicroPython is the path of least resistance. If Python is your preferred programming language, the Raspberry Pi Pico supports MicroPython, a microcontroller-friendly version of Python 3. MicroPython can be created in two ways: directly in the Python Shell, known as the REPL (Read, Eval, Print, Loop), or via an IDE like Thonny, which has the support baked in from version 3.3.0.
With the exception of DIP-based boards like the Arduino Nano Every and Nano 33 IoT, most Arduino boards come pre-soldered. The Raspberry Pi Pico arrives unsoldered, which is the significant difference. It isn’t a big deal because you can easily solder your pins if you have a soldering iron.
The Raspberry Pi Pico comes with an efficient processor, and in compassion, it is better than most Arduino microcontrollers. It consumes more power which is no surprise considering its dual-core and the performance it can pull out. It’s not like it’s consuming power way too much. The power output is around 5 – 10W, which is even lower than a standard micro USB charger adapter.
Raspberry Pi Pico vs Arduino: Which is Better?
The Raspberry Pi Pico is the ideal board for microcontroller projects, with an incredible array of GPIO pins, ease of use, and excellent documentation. Unlike other clone boards, you receive official hardware for a low price and know it will work as promised.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q.1. Is Pi Pico faster than Arduino?
Ans. Raspberry Pi Pico is faster, better, and more fun than Arduino microcontrollers. However, Arduino does have flagship microcontrollers capable of performing in Raspberry Pi Pico. Still, if compared to the price point, the Raspberry Pi Pico is definitely the value for money MCU.
Q.2. Is the Raspberry Pi Pico worth it?
Ans. The official has rolled it out for just $4 with a powerful processor, a good amount of SRAM, and flash storage. Yes, counting all these, Raspberry Pi Pico is 100% worth investing in.
Q.3. Can I use Python for Arduino?
Ans. The Arduino IDE does not currently support Python. Instead, you can use OpenMV, a MicroPython platform that allows us to program Arduino boards. Install MicroPython and upload scripts straight to the board using the OpenMV editor.