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Appearance on Tom's Hardware's The Pi Cast - Nov 2021

I appeared earlier today on Tom's Hardware's The Pi Cast, and discussed the recently-released Pi Zero 2 W. We talked hardware, projects, and performance, and I even gave some spoilers for the video I'll be posting tomorrow about my Null 2 retro gaming handheld build with the Zero 2 W.

Check out the video on their YouTube channel or watch it via embed below:

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 powers the Null 2 RetroPie gaming handheld

As a kid, I never had a Game Boy, Game Gear, or any other handheld console. Heck, as luck would have it I've never owned a Nintendo Switch, either.

I've played console and PC games, I've only used handhelds twice: once in middle school, when a friend let me borrow his Game Gear for a day, and last year year when my dad brought over his Nintendo Switch—which my kids quickly commandeered.

I guess out of a sense of jealousy, I decided the first thing I should do with Raspberry Pi's latest hardware, the Pi Zero 2 (see my review here), is build myself a handheld retro gaming console.

Null 2 kit on Tindie

And what better way than with the Null 2 kit (pictured above, from it's Tindie page), a kit integrating off-the-shelf components on a custom PCB, wrapped up nicely in a custom acrylic case.

Disabling cores to reduce the Pi Zero 2 W's power consumption by half

By default, the new Pi Zero 2 W (see my Zero 2 W review here) runs a 4-core ARM Cortex A53 CPU at 1 GHz.

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W BGA Xray pattern with mini Raspberry Pi Logo

If you haven't seen my full blog post exploring the Zero 2 W from the inside, complete with X-ray imagery—go check it out now!

From my review, I found that the Zero 2 uses 100 mA at idle (compared to 80 mA for the single-core Pi Zero W that preceded it), but will use up to 500 mA full-tilt, when all four CPU cores are maxed out.

For many users of the Zero 2, this is no problem, as the extra multicore performance is worth it. But a few people asked whether disabling cores could save energy in situations where the software running on the Zero 2 wasn't multithreaded or didn't need multiple CPU cores to run effectively.

So I tried it! Booting up a fresh instance of 32-bit Pi OS, I checked on the cores:

Look inside the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W and the RP3A0-AU

Today, Raspberry Pi released their new Zero 2 W, and it includes a new Raspberry Pi-branded chip, labeled RP3A0-AU.

I was able to get early access to the Zero 2, and I have a full review of the device on my YouTube channel, but I wanted to share more of the X-ray images I took of the device to reveal its inner workings, and because I just think they look cool. Also, I paid a bit of money to get these pictures, so might as well share!

First, here's what the Zero 2 W looks like in person:

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W

And here's what it looks like via X-ray:

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W - X-ray vision

Kubesail's PiBox mini 2 - 16 TB of SSD storage on a Pi

Kubesail Raspberry PiBox mini 2 front side exposed

Many months ago, when I was first testing different SATA cards on the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4, I started hearing from GitHub user PastuDan about his experiences testing a few different SATA interface chips on the CM4.

As it turns out, he was working on the design for the PiBox mini 2, a small two-drive NAS unit powered by a Compute Module 4 with 2 native SATA ports (providing data and power), 1 Gbps Ethernet, HDMI, USB 2, and a front-panel LCD for information display.

The Hardware

The PiBox mini 2 is powered by the Compute Module 4 on this interesting carrier board:

PiBox mini carrier board with Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4

Getting a Raspberry Pi to boot after cutting it in half

This blog post starts with the question: If I cut the ports off a Raspberry Pi 4 model B, will it still work?

Cut Raspberry Pi 4 model B

My early conclusion? Sorta.

With most Raspberry Pi generations, there is a full-featured model B, and a smaller, trimmed-down model A. The Pi 4 never had a model A, so I thought it would be interesting to see if I could make one. I looked at the Pi 4 with this really cool X-ray tool, as well as using this album of X-ray images from reddit user u/xCP23x:

Xray image of Raspberry Pi 4 model B

The cut was calculated to try to avoid anything important, though as we'll find later it may not have been measured carefully enough.