In the tech world, the name Raspberry Pi has become synonymous with single-board computers that pack a punch. The latest addition to their compact range, the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W, is no exception. With a processing speed that's up to five times faster than its predecessor, the Pi Zero W, and a shielded Wi-Fi enclosure, this little device has a lot to offer. It's an ideal choice for applications like room-assistant, providing an impressive performance despite its small size.
How the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W compares
Despite its modest dimensions (just 65 mm × 30 mm), the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is a force to be reckoned with. In terms of processing power and cost, it falls between an ESP32 and the latest Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. However, its ability to run Linux-based operating systems places it closer to the latter, proving that size is not an indicator of capability.
Raspberry Pi hardware with a Raspberry Pi system-in-package
Raspberry Pi's foray into custom-built microcontrollers began with the Raspberry Pi Pico, which featured the RP2040 microcontroller. The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W continues this trend by utilizing the RP3A0, Raspberry Pi's first home-grown system-in-package (SiP), designed in the UK. It consists of a Broadcom BCM2710A1 — which is the silicon die packaged inside the Broadcom BCM2837 chip which is used on the Raspberry Pi 3 — along with 512 MB of DRAM.
The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W's SiP boasts four ARM Cortex-A53 cores, a significant upgrade from the single ARM11 core of its predecessor. While these cores may be a decade old, they are a noteworthy enhancement, demonstrating that Raspberry Pi is committed to continual improvement. The same cores are found in Roku streaming media players, the ODROID-C2, and various Amazon Echo Show models.
Better, but not the best Bluetooth
This new model also sees an upgrade in Bluetooth capabilities, moving from Bluetooth 4.1 to Bluetooth 4.2 with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Despite this, Bluetooth 4.2 is somewhat outdated, leaving room for future enhancements, potentially to Bluetooth 5.X, to increase the range of room-assistant nodes.
The remaining specs are as expected for a computer of this price point (US$15), including 512 MB of RAM, two Micro-USB ports (one for data, one for power), a Mini-HDMI port, a MIPI camera interface (CSI), and a microSDHC slot. The Wi-Fi connection could see improvements due to the new enclosure, which enhances RF compliance, though it remains limited to Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n).
Conclusion: The Raspberry Pi 2 W is more than worthy successor
In conclusion, the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is a valuable enhancement to the Raspberry Pi range. It's an ideal solution for those needing to run room-assistant or similar applications round the clock. It can currently be purchased from CanaKit, SparkFun, and MicroCenter. Updates will be provided once availability on Amazon is confirmed.