Bringing the language of multi-gigabyte web browsers to a $4 computer
npm package manager.
The new Raspberry Pi 5 – which, we can exclusively reveal today, does not cope well with having cola spilled over it so readers may not see a long-term test of the device – has hogged the headlines recently. In some small part, this is because of its in-house designed southbridge chip, confusingly named the RP1. The Pi 5 wasn't the first Pi model with an in-house chip on board, though. The $4 Raspberry Pi Pico uses the company's home-made RP2040 processor, available for 70¢ in volume.
Despite its tiny specs, the Pi Pico has done rather well, partly because it didn't suffer too badly from the silicon chip shortages that caused problems for many other devices, including the bigger Pis, since the pandemic began. The Pico is a very limited device, which doesn't even have a built-in display output. The hacker community has taken this as a challenge, and come up with some impressive tech from the tiny device. The Reg FOSS Desk's personal favorite is turning Picos into plug-compatible Transputer replacements.
It's easy to assume that to work with such a constrained device, you must use a low-level or constrained language. Out of the box, the Pi Pico supports C (arguably not a low-level language any more), and MicroPython, as also used in the BBC Micro:Bit – which is about four times the price.
- Raspberry Pi 5 revealed, and it should satisfy your need for speed
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Pi? Asus's 'NUC-sized' SBC aims to out-Pi the Raspberry
- Raspberry Pi production rate rising to a million a month
- LattePanda's Sigma crams a 12-core Intel Raptor Lake CPU into an itty-bitty SBC
Kaluma's offering, though, seems remarkably capable. The company has a showcase of projects built with it, a library of code packages, documentation, and a forum on GitHub. It uses JerryScript, which is also open source and well documented – for an example, see its API reference.
Although some terrible things have been done with it, we can't help but recall how Smalltalk and Croquet boffin David A Smith told us: