Rumors about a new Raspberry Pi have been circulating around the Internet for the past week or so. Speculation has ranged from an upgraded Model A or compute module to a monster board with Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, SATA and a CPU that isn’t even in production yet. The time is now, and the real news is even more interesting: it’s a $5 Raspberry Pi Zero. It’s the smallest Pi yet, while still keeping the core experience.
In recent months, tiny Linux boards have followed the march of technology and become ever more capable and less expensive. The purest expression of this is the C.H.I.P., the $9 single board Linux computer that made waves simply for how inexpensive it is. The Raspberry Pi Zero is even cheaper, and looking at the spec sheet, is even more capable.
The core of the Raspberry Pi Zero is the Broadcom BCM2835 – the same system on chip found in the original Raspberry Pi. This time, it’s running at 1GHz, – 40% faster than the Raspberry Pi 1. There’s 512 MB of RAM in this board, and of course like all Pis the standard 40-pin header is included.
Building such a small board meant the Raspberry Pi foundation needed to cut a few ports from the Zero. Ethernet and the quartet of USB ports found in the Pi Model B+ are gone; there’s simply nowhere to put them. Instead, the Pi Zero includes a mini-HDMI socket, and two micro USB ports – one for power and data, another for USB OTG. Composite video remains on an unpopulated header, and storage is through a microSD card slot.
In the years since the release of the Raspberry Pi, it has become the defacto tiny Linux computer. A few contenders to the throne have shown up, though, with the most interesting being the smallest. While the Raspberry Pi Compute Module isn’t much of a success, we’ve seen a lot of tiny boards like the ODROID-W, and Carambola finding their way into the coolest projects. Part of this is the size of these modules, being able to fit into anything is a big bonus. With a price of only $5 – and without $20 in shipping that the C.H.I.P. was criticized for – the Pi Zero is going to be a very, very popular board.
The Raspberry Pi Zero should be available from the usual vendors – Element14, The Pi Hut, Pimoroni, Adafruit, and Micro Center – starting today. If you have a subscription to Magpi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine, you’re in luck: the December issue will include a Pi Zero right on the cover.