Miniature PC Packs A Big Punch


We are always looking out for smaller yet capable computers for our projects, and this newest offering by [David Braben] is looking mighty nice. [David] is the head of a UK-based games studio, but has recently been focusing on bringing small, affordable PCs to classrooms around the world.

The computer, called Raspberry Pi,  is about the size of your standard USB thumb drive and contains a 700 MHz ARM 11 processor as well as 128 MB of memory. It has an HDMI port which can display 1080p video on any compatible screen, along with a USB port for input peripherals. Mass storage is provided courtesy of an on-board SD card slot, and it looks like the ability to utilize add-on modules will be available as well.

There is sure to be no shortage of willing buyers if [David] is able to bring these computers to market within a reasonable timeframe. With a projected cost of about $25, this will certainly give the OLPC and others a run for their money.

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107 thoughts on “Miniature PC Packs A Big Punch

  1. If these are actually at this price point or at the most $50, you can see a lot of enthusiasts like the people who visit this site gobbling them up, replacing Gumstix for a lot of tasks that aren’t necessarily computationally intensive or complex.

    Essentially making the Gumstix the BASIC Stamp of SoC.

  2. Man, I wish there was a way to get a hand on one of these prototypes (even if they cost 2 or 3 times the goal cost); I’d love to get a few for my MEng project ^^

  3. Just about time that someone created a Gumstix-like system at a reasonable price.
    I highly doubt he’ll be able to sell it at $25, but even at say $40 it’d be much more interesting than the insanely priced Gumstix.
    It would also bring down, by induction, the prices of Arduino, its clones and most two digit-priced mcu boards.
    Well done!

  4. This is fantastic to be sure, but it depends what “projected cost” means. If that’s the cost to manufacture then there’s no way it will retail for less than $65. (Even charities have to pay bills.)

    Still, a lot of computing power for not much money. I’m currious how much power it uses, these would be great for head and body mounted computing projects.

    (Note to the editors: Please link the actual project. [ ] Certainly give some credit to where you found it but the majority of the credit should go to the people who do the hard work and actually make the project.)

  5. @Metalwolf
    It says it can run 1080p, with software using hardware acceleration it might just work without to much fancy pantcy.

    add parralel and a usb -> seriel adapter and you have an easy cheap fpga :p

  6. Count me among the dubious that this can be retailed for $25, but even at twice that cost this would be freakin’ awesome. Now all it needs is on-board wifi, which they say they’re working on.

  7. According to the story on the reg today he’s planning on selling them at cost in an effort to get more kids into hardcore games hacking.

    As it’s similar density to a cellphone but less than half the components, $25 should be easily doable in quantities of 100k+. Most of that functionality will be in the ARM chip anyhow (CPU, Video, I/O, memory controller, USB, card reader) and given ARM11s have been used in TV decoder boxes for a few years, that part will not be expensive.

  8. $25 must be BOM, add another $25 for manufacturing and another $25 for shipping/handling/profit

    still seems too cheap, this is Ethernet/wifi router price range, SoCs with Video are a lot more expensive

  9. We shall see.

    OLPC comparisons aren’t quite valid, since OLPC tried to specifically address issues of lack of infrastructure. This requires monitor, keyboard, network interface, and perhaps other stuff, plus the electricity to run it all. A different beast.

    >> he’s planning on selling them at cost
    Hmm. I don’t think people in general realize how valuable it is that Arduino (for instance) supports two tiers of profitable distributors. Not the same thing as a vendor-subsidized board sold at or below cost to attract customers.

    The best thing for computer education would be for some appliance (eg TV, phone, MP3 player) vendor to put a programming environment of some kind on the microcontroller that is already in their box anyway…

  10. This is one of the sweetest mini computers I’ve ever seen. I bet it’d be perfect for turning into a smartphone-like device. With Linux running on it it’s just asking for Android, and USB ports means wifi. Mini WEP cracker anyone?

    I was thinking the same thing. 4 would be a nice start.

  11. If they really are only going to be £15, then i think everyone will buy one. Apparently it does composite rgb too, so no need to buy a monitor, just find an old tv someone has thrown (thinking of the third world here)

  12. hopefully it will have accessible GPIO ports, this would enable teaching /every/ stage of programming, from lowest electrical to highest level dynamic web stuff on a single device. It would be like in the olden days, when there still were serial ports…

  13. i would buy like 10 for me and then some more, cluster the 10, 7ghz? i know it wouldn’t really be 7ghz, but 10 cores running at 700mhz each. looks like it would make a nice little watch. add a little keyboard and screen, keeps time, IMs..
    I’m assuming that big black box is a heatsink, it appears that there may be a tiny fan, making this actively cooled? Since it has a male USB connector, can i plug it in and use it for Tur(tle)bocharged Readyboost? With the specs though, it will definitely not be running any type of Winbloats. Here’s the plan: it haz HDMI out, stick it in an HDTV and voila! it’s a AIO PC, ok, more like an HDTV with a built-in C64, NES, etc.. but awesome, nonetheless. i def. plan on buying 2 or 3 at the least, because they’d make nice gifts, once a headphone jack has been hacked on, some simple controls, power source, throw in a microSD card, and it’s at least an mp3 player, also could much more easily be used as a viable replacement for DVD player, since it has HDMI and doesn’t rely on fragile optical media.

  14. @Kevin “Composite and HDMI video output”

    @zool a $35 tablet, maybe some day, a $35 ipad from Apple probably never.

    Negroponte is probably the biggest enemy his brain child has. The OLPC is a has been, without ever really existing. Work like this combined with the work of others is what will bring the OLPC concept to fruition. SD media is to damn cheap. Leave internet connecting for a later date. Put a rack of microSD connectors inside any OLPC, and get prerecorded digital educational content into the hands of children in developing countries.

  15. @LordNothing: yes, he co-wrote Elite, and also wrote Zarch for the Acorn Archimedes (AKA Virus on some other platforms). A cut down version of Zarch, called Lander, came with RISC OS 2. Hard to play at first, but very impressive.

  16. as cool as this is i still think going as far as calling it a pc is a little overboard. when i think pc i think x86, not arm. so long as its open source i think it would be pretty cool to have one, but i wouldn’t call it a pc.

  17. It’s nice to see ARM platforms getting more powerful for lower price points. Now letsnsee if someone takes on the challenges preventing ARM based solutions from becoming a real challenger to the x86 PC.

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