Raspberry Pi, a $25 computer for (future) geeks

Most of the current generation of computer nerds started out writing small programs in languages like BASIC. If you’re in your 30’s, chances are you started out on a Commodore C64, or one of its competitors, and fiddled around with writing small programs. Since then, computing has changed dramatically. Knowing your way around Microsoft Word makes you a “whiz kid” nowadays, and knowing how to install Windows can get you a job.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is developing a small, inexpensive computer aimed at bringing back the “hacker spirit” from the old days. Starting at a mere $25, the “Raspberry Pi” is a credit card-sized circuit board with an ARM-based SoC (system on a chip), 128 MB of RAM memory and connectors for a display, keyboard and mouse (USB). It uses an SD card as storage, and can be used with a DVI-capable monitor or a TV (composite video). The $35 “Model B” has double the RAM and a wired network port.

Don’t let the low purchase price fool you though. The video above shows an early prototype running Quake III at Full-DH resolution, and while that is not its intended use, it shows that the hardware is quite capable. The CPU is a single core one, running at a mere 700 MHz, but the graphics unit is quite potent, and with some cleverly chosen (written?) software, it should be usable as a general purpose PC.


(image shows a prototype board)

The Foundation is probably right to expect mostly selling the first 10,000 boards to developers and enthusiasts. Like many (current) geeks. I can see tons of applications for this little board. It uses only around 1 watt of power, so it’s perfect for “always-on” type applications like small (NAS?) servers. Plus it plays video really well, so it could also be used to create a Linux-based media player. The sky is the limit :). Or rather, 10,000 is the limit. This thing has “EPIC WANT” written all over it, so I’d be surprised if that first batch isn’t sold out in the blink of an eye.

6 Comments

  1. I think I may need more than 1. The amount of nifty things I have thought of doing with a computer but havn’t due computers being far to expensive for the simple stand alone tasks I imagine for them. These things are the start of the Wallace and Gromit house!

    Comment by Warren — December 20, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

  2. Roy,This can be used by school children & for home purpose I guess.May be as a multimedia Desk for watching movies /surfing internet.We cant expect more than this for $25

    Comment by Mark Nett — January 4, 2012 @ 7:50 am

  3. Super cool – imagine the housings that could be made for these!! My brain is starting to boggle!

    Comment by beth — January 5, 2012 @ 8:33 am

  4. DOS OS? or something else? Love to come back to the comodore right now :)

    Comment by Casper — January 30, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

  5. too bad it doesn’t have camera otherwise it would be perfect for security operation

    Comment by karpatu — May 12, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

    • A camera module is on the way, and I’m thinking of doing a “Raspberry Spi” with it. :)

      Comment by Roy — May 24, 2012 @ 10:59 am