In a recent episode of Tom's Hardware: The Pi Cast, Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton revealed that 10 million RP2040 chips have been made since 2021 and that there could be more Raspberry Pi stores opening in the future.
500 Wafers Equals 10 Million RP2040s
Tom's Hardware Editor-in-Chief and The Pi Cast co-host Avram Piltch asked Upton "Why are there no shortage of RP2040 based products?" and Upton's answer "We took some big risks" lead to the revelation that Raspberry Pi purchased 500 wafers in 2021.
The offer and subsequent decision to purchase 500 wafers came through within a day, Upton said. Per wafer there can be between 21,000 and 22,000 RP2040 die with a die size of roughly 2mm square. Upton then compares the "big chip world" where dies are 30 mm square. The original BCM2835 SoC (as used in the original Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Pi Zero) is based on this tech.
From a wafer, the yield is approximately 2000 die for 30mm. Newer chips, such as those in the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W and Raspberry Pi 4 use a 45mm square die, respectively the BCM2710 and BCM2711 packages. From a wafer Raspberry Pi expect to make 1400 die.
Upton then does the math and from 500 wafers, each yielding around 21,000 die, there are around 10 million RP2040 chips.
This "stockpile" of chips from 2021 are what many of us keen Pico users are currently consuming, be it in the form of Raspberry Pi Pico , Pico W or third-party boards. Upton then talks about what is "effectively an infinite supply [of RP2040]" based upon how many die can be created per wafer. This is a refreshing statement, given how global supply chains have been hit by the pandemic.
Upton is keen to steer enthusiasts to the Raspberry Pi Pico / RP2040 and backs this up by stating that he wants the Pico to be a product that never runs out and says that he has gone as far as to strategically purchase "millions of units" of the many other components that make up the board (buck / boost converter, Wi-Fi etc). These bulk purchases mean that it is virtually impossible for the Raspberry Pi Pico to go out of stock.
More Raspberry Pi Stores To Come
During the show, co-host Ash Hill asked Upton about opening more Raspberry Pi stores, and Upton talked about a possible expansion overseas. According to Upton, India has a massive Raspberry Pi community and it could be a viable location for a future store. This would be the first store not based in the UK.
Located in the heart of Cambridge, the Raspberry Pi store is found on the first floor of the Grand Arcade shopping mall. Opened in February 2019, the store offers Raspberry Pi, accessories and books from Raspberry Pi itself, and many of its partners. The store is more than just sales. Often there are events, gatherings and it seems meetings.
Opening in 2019, the store had barely a year of trading before the pandemic struck, with UK Government guidelines effectively closing all non-essential retail stores during a series of lockdowns. 2022 was the first "full" year of trading for the store, with Government Covid restrictions lifted.
Upton hinted at a possible second Raspberry Pi store in the UK, with Leeds looking to be a candidate. Right now an extended "pop-up" store looks likely, giving Raspberry Pi time to understand "what the next chapter" looks like.
Raspberry Pi has other, "pop-up" stores around the United Kingdom. The first pop-up was on London's prestigious Oxford Street and since then the store has moved around the UK to Gateshead and Edinburgh. For 2023 the store is back on tour and will be travelling as far south as Southampton, then on to Birmingham, Leeds and finally back to Gateshead.