Senior Expert in Emerging Technology
In 2012, Pete Lomas founded the Raspberry Pi Foundation and released the first generation of the inexpensive, power-saving, single board computer powered by the Linux operating system. The platform was a nearly instant success and has numbers of sales topping 40 million. There are several thousand open-source projects based on the hardware platform, ranging from audio/video to home automation and security. Elektor Magazine was one of the first to cover the sensational new platform when Clemens Valens interviewed Lomas at the Embedded World 2013 trade show in Nuremberg, Germany.
The Raspberry Pi was initially developed to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools and developing countries. The original model, known as the Raspberry Pi Model B, released in February 2012, was a credit card sized computer. The first release consisted of 512MB of RAM, 2 USB ports, a 1 Gigabit Network port, a 700 MHz ARM11 CPU and a Videocore 4 GPU. It ran on between 300 and 500mA, less power than it takes to charge your cell phone, and sold for $25. It took the market by storm and sold around 500 thousand units, more than 50 times the expected volume of sales.
The original market was meant to be small schools and developing countries, but the market rapidly spread to hobbyists, university researchers, students, control systems engineers and almost anybody developing embedded systems hardware. The Raspberry Pi was the most energy efficient and lowest cost computer ever built and the market for low power consumption, high performing computers was greater than the foundation predicted.
A few months later the less powerful and less expensive $15 Raspberry Pi A was released; sales on the model A were lower than the model B. In 2014 the second generation Models B+ and A+ were released, along with a “Compute Module” for embedded applications. The “Compute Module” did not include the GPU and sold for a much lower price point. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has continued to release new single board computer models every two years; each new model has nearly doubled the compute power of the previous generation and the price point remained under $25 until the release of the Raspberry Pi 4 that sells for between $35 and $75 dollars depending on the amount of memory on the system
The latest model Raspberry Pi B now comes with 8 GB of RAM, a 4-core Arm Cortex-A73 CPU operating at 1.5 GHz and an enhanced graphics processing unit capable of running two 4k displays. These latest models can compete with your standard Intel laptop when it comes to overall performance, which explains the higher demand and higher price point of $75. The good news is that if you just need a small computer for simple embedded platform tasks, or to run your own personal web-server, you can still purchase the much less expensive $7 Raspberry Pi Zero, which was designed for small projects. The prior generation $35 Raspberry Pi 3B is also still in production.
It was exciting to me to see the Raspberry Pi Foundation have such great success and I am thrilled to be celebrating their 10th birthday. I have personally seen them used in developing nations to do amazing things as a primary computing source for Equip Mozambique, a Christian ministry designed to equip the people of Mozambique to change their country. The credit card size computers are imported to their nation because of a lack of a solid supply chain for general computer hardware; the small size makes them easy to deliver to the country.
For more information on the Raspberry Pi Foundation you can visit https://www.raspberrypi.org/ and for more information on Equip Mozambique you can visit https://equipmoz.org/.
Until next week, stay safe and learn something new.
Scott Hamilton is an Expert in Emerging Technologies at ATOS and can be reached with questions and comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at https://www.techshepherd.org.