The store is designed for direct-to-business sales only, so consumers hoping to purchase a Pi here or there will be disappointed. However, Raspberry Pi Direct could be a blessing for anyone willing to buy in bulk.
Currently, there are just two listings on the new online store: the RP2040 microcontroller in reels of either 500 or 3,400. The latter bundle costs $2,380, which makes for a per unit price of just $0.70.
Raspberry Pi RP2040
The first product powered by the RP2040 microcontroller was the Raspberry Pi Pico, which launched in January last year. Since then, the company has sold 1.5 million units, which have been used to power all manner of electronics projects and prototypes. Although the Pico can’t run a full operating system, it can be easily programmed to control sensors, motors and other peripherals.
Since the summer, the RP2040 has been available on its own from the network of approved Raspberry Pi resellers for a price of $1 per unit. The organization says this remains the appropriate avenue for hobbyists that want to get hold of the chip for prototyping, and even “for small- to medium scale production”.
However, the new scheme offers businesses a way to purchase the microcontroller in bulk at a discount of almost 30%, at a time when many other similar chips are disappearing from the market as a result of the global semiconductor shortage.
According to a blog post from Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi CEO, the company has been able to stockpile large quantities of the RP2040 microcontroller despite the shortage, thanks in large part to its space-efficient design.
“RP2040 is built on a more modern semiconductor process (TSMC 40LP) than most other microcontrollers. As a result, it makes extremely efficient use of scarce silicon wafer supply: each die occupies just 2mm^2, and each 300mm wafer yields roughly 21,000 dice,” he wrote.
“We have sufficient wafer stock on hand to produce 20 million chips, with more on the way. If you want to build your product on a microcontroller you can actually buy in 2022, RP2040 is your friend.”
Asked by TechRadar Pro whether it intends to sell other items in bulk via Raspberry Pi Direct, a Raspberry Pi spokesperson said the company does not "currently have plans to make products other than RP2040 available".
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Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.