It uses a custom chip, the RP2040, and seems to be more of an Arduino than a Pi. It has 264KB of memory and can be programmed in C/C++ or MicroPython. Thus, it is not a Linux system.
The unfortunate name of calling it a Pi may cause some confusion.
But it’s still neat. With the Pi group entering this market, it finally gives them something to compete with Arduino. The Pi is great, but having a slow-booting disk base OS that can corrupt the file system if you do not shut down properly each time was not a good fit for embedded designs.
The Pi Zero is $5, and the new Pi Pico is $4. This is a great price point compared to things like the mini Arduinos, but it’s for folks who can solder if you want to hook anything to it. Since the Pi Zeros are sold with versions that have header pins soldered on (for $5 more), it seems likely someone will do that for the Pico allowing folks who don’t solder well (such as myself) to make use of this item.
My current favorite supplier of Pi items is Vilros:
More to come…