When we write about retrocomputers, we realize that back in the day, people knew all the details of their computer. You had to, really, if you wanted to get anything done. These days, we more often pick peripherals and just assume our C or other high level code will fit and run on the CPU.
But sometimes you need to get down to the bare metal and if your desire is to use bare metal on the RP2040, [Will Thomas] has a YouTube channel to help you. The first video explains why you might want to do this followed by some simple examples. Then you’ll find over a dozen other videos that give you details.
Any video that starts, “Alright, Monday night. I have no friends. It is officially bare metal hours,” deserves your viewing. Of course, you have to start with the traditional blinking LED. But subsequent videos talk about the second core, GPIO, clocks, SRAM, spinlocks, the UART, and plenty more.
As you might expect, the code is all in assembly. But even if you want to program using C without the SDK, the examples will be invaluable. We like assembly — it is like working an intricate puzzle and getting anything to work is satisfying. We get it. But commercially, it rarely makes sense to use assembly anymore. On the other hand, when you need it, you really need it. Besides, we all do things for fun that don’t make sense commercially.
We like assembly, especially on platforms where most people don’t use it. Tackling it on a modern CPU is daunting, but if you want to have a go, we know someone who can help.