Raspberry Pi Zero W adds Wi-Fi, Bluetooth capabilities

February 28, 2017 | 10:16

Tags: #bcm2835 #bluetooth #microcomputer #pi-zero #raspberry-pi-zero #raspberry-pi-zero-w #sbc #single-board-computer #wi-fi

Companies: #broadcom #raspberry-pi #raspberry-pi-foundation

The Raspberry Pi family has grown one larger today, as the company behind it enjoys its fifth birthday, with the launch of a radio-equipped variant of the Pi Zero imaginatively dubbed the Pi Zero W (for Wireless).

Designed to sit alongside the Raspberry Pi Zero v1.3 microcomputer, which launched as an update to the original and added a Camera Serial Interface (CSI) connector to the edge of the board, the Pi Zero W has only one notable change: the presence of a Broadcom BCM4348 (Cypress CYW43438) radio chip, previously seen on the Raspberry Pi 3, which adds 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 radio connectivity - along with FM radio capabilities which, sadly, are not routed out from the hardware itself.

Elsewhere, the specifications remain unchanged. The layout of the Pi Zero W matches the Pi Zero exactly, meaning that all existing cases and add-ons are compatible. The Broadcom BCM2835 system-on-chip remains intact, running its single ARMv6 core at 1GHz and linked to 512MB of RAM. Wired connectivity to external devices still requires the use of adaptors, too, to convert the single micro-USB On The Go (OTG) port and mini-HDMI ports to full-size equivalents as needed, while the CSI camera connector requires an adaptor cable to connect to the official Raspberry Pi Camera Module and NoIR Camera Module. The 40-pin header is, naturally, present and correct, though as with its predecessor unpopulated with pins.

The new Pi Zero W will, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has confirmed, be sold alongside the Pi Zero. The inclusion of the tiny BCM4348 radio chip, though, has had a dramatic impact on price: Where the original Pi Zero made history as the first microcomputer to retail for £4, albeit needing extras like a power supply and micro-SD card to boot, the Pi Zero W is more than twice the price at £9.60 - putting it into direct competition with devices like the $9 (approximately £7.24) NextThingCo CHIP and £7.34 Orange Pi Zero H2 - the latter boasting a quad-core processor.

More details, and links to retailers, can be found on the official website.
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