Friday, November 25th 2011

Raspberry Pi: the Upcoming $25 1080p-Capable ARM-Based Hobby Computer

Yes, you heard that right, when completed, the Raspberry Pi foundation will be selling a credit card sized computer running Linux that can plug into your television and play H.264 1080p30 videos. Raspberry Pi is the somewhat cheekily-named UK registered charity which has been set up to design and build a very low cost computer that is targeted for use in computer science lessons in schools, to "put the fun back into learning computing." Why, was it ever not fun?! However, such a simple and cheap general purpose gadget has the potential for many other uses than the classroom, as the world is full of inventive tech-minded people that can tinker with something like this and build innovative projects with them, perhaps by using several of these together.

The product will come in two configurations, a $25 Model A with 128 MB SDRAM & $35 Model B with 256 MB SDRAM and both will come with the same 700 MHz Broadcom BCM2835 media processor featuring an ARM11 (ARM1176JZF-S) core, Broadcom GPU core, DSP core and support for Package-on-Package (PoP) RAM. We expect that in this day and age, most people will go for the 256 MB model, which is still a very small amount of RAM. For those that want to get the most out if this device, the website - www.raspberrypi.org - has a forum and a wiki with tons of technical details on the device, including benchmarks and links to many other news stories & blogs about the product. There's even a shop, although at the moment, it's only selling keyboard stickers of the foundation's logo.
Note that the target price of $25/$35 is a hard limit, so the standard feature set is limited by this. One example is that it has no analog VGA output, since this would require conversion electronics that would increase the price. The wiki however, does provide links to suppliers of HDMI to VGA adapters. This computer is expected to be available in December in the UK and possibly the US. In the pictures above, the diagram on the right is the final PCB artwork and the provisional specification is shown below:
  • 700 MHz Broadcom BCM2835 media processor featuring an ARM11 (ARM1176JZF-S) core, Broadcom GPU core, DSP core and support for Package-on-Package (PoP) RAM
  • 128 MB (Model A) or 256MB of SDRAM (Model B), stacked on top of the CPU as a PoP device
  • OpenGL ES 2.0
  • 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode
  • Composite and HDMI video output
  • One USB 2.0 port provided by the BCM2835
  • SD/MMC/SDIO memory card slot
  • General-purpose I/O (About 16 3v3) and various other interfaces, brought out to 1.27 mm pin-strip
  • Optional integrated 2-port USB hub and 10/100 Ethernet controller (Model B)
  • Open software (Iceweasel, KOffice, Python)
  • Capability to support various expansion boards
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52 Comments on Raspberry Pi: the Upcoming $25 1080p-Capable ARM-Based Hobby Computer

#1
horik
117,17 €,cheap...
Posted on Reply
#2
JrRacinFan
Served 5k and counting ...
I want a 256MB model, rather stinks there isn't a pre-order option available.
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#3
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
does the board conform to any industry standard? i would obviously like to put this into a case...
Posted on Reply
#4
sneekypeet
Unpaid Babysitter
with its size it just needs one screw....I was thinking of something like a passport (HDD) shell.

Also in the first image in the OP, where is the SD card slot? I sort of got the feeling that they would have an SD slot on the PCB.
Posted on Reply
#6
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
Easy Rhino said:
does the board conform to any industry standard? i would obviously like to put this into a case...
Well, as far as I can see, the only standards supported is the video playback & HDMI, Ethernet and that it runs Linux.

sneekypeet said:
with its size it just needs one screw....I was thinking of something like a passport (HDD) shell.

Also in the first image in the OP, where is the SD card slot? I sort of got the feeling that they would have an SD slot on the PCB.
It's a picture of the prototype, so that could be why.
Posted on Reply
#7
sneekypeet
Unpaid Babysitter
I was just wondering if it was on the back, maybe blocking installation, only reason it really peaked my interest in its location. I sort of figured it was a pre-release in the image I asked about.
Posted on Reply
#8
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
Yes, it could well be on the back. One could trawl through some of the many links in the wiki perhaps, where photos of the back might exist.

Ya know, this thing is so cheap, with the $35 one costing around £20 in UK money, that getting one is almost a no-brainer. I'm certainly gonna be keeping my eye on this. This was a really great find by Easy. :cool:
Posted on Reply
#9
HalfAHertz
Easy Rhino said:
does the board conform to any industry standard? i would obviously like to put this into a case...
I don't think so but I read in one of the interviews that it's exactly the same size as a credit card.
Posted on Reply
#10
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
With a little ingenuity you could rig this thing up to sit in your pocket and supply a heads-up display on your glasses so you could surf TPU at work without your boss knowing.

Not that I condone something like that. (snort)
Posted on Reply
#11
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
Kreij said:
With a little ingenuity you could rig this thing up to sit in your pocket and supply a heads-up display on your glasses so you could surf TPU at work without your boss knowing.

Not that I condone something like that. (snort)
This would actually be handy for me, as I'm always watching over my shoulder to make sure the boss doesn't catch me...
Posted on Reply
#12
Wile E
Power User
TRWOV said:
Cool, nice and cheap. I might go ahead with my car pc project after all. I had considered a Via Nano board but prices are through the roof.
Exactly what I thought of immediately. If you could get an android build on it, it would be great.
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#13
1freedude
I saw this Wednesday morning. I didn't think enough of it to share. I'm in the FXI camp.
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#14
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
Hmmm... I hope they port DD-WRT to it!
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#15
RejZoR
Hm, no memory card or other storage medium? Where do you install OS ? Or does it come with onboard chip with Android on it or something?
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#16
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
RejZoR said:
Hm, no memory card or other storage medium? Where do you install OS ? Or does it come with onboard chip with Android on it or something?
There is an SD card slot. What is shown in the picture in this news article is actually an Alpha board, it does have an SD card slot on it as well, but it is on the bottom under the USB ports, so it is impossible to see in the picture, but it is there. The final design has an SD card slot as well.
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#17
NC37
Frick said:
Ohh, possible release date! BTW, if you're interested there's an old thread about it here.

Do wantwantwant noew!

@C Bonkers: When was that released?

Oh, and here we can see it playing Quake 3!
From the look at that FPS counter, it runs it about as good as PCs did back then. Still, not bad. I'd like to see a UT99 timedemo. Bit more CPU bound.
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#18
Fx
theJesus said:
Complain all you want the low specs, but at this price it's pretty damn cool. Could make a very cheap alternative to an HTPC for those on a tight budget.
bingo
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#19
Peter1986C
For those who think that the performance of that ARM chip is crap:
qubit said:
And now for that video. The short video below, originally found in an interesting geek.com article, compares a 1.6 GHz dual core Atom CPU in a netbook against a development board using a Cortex-A9 ARM CPU, configured as a dual core system, running at a mere 500 MHz. Yes, just 500 MHz. The results? Even with the netbook having a graphics accelerator and the ARM dev system not having one, the ARM was only slightly slower than the Atom! Of course, it consumed a lot less power than the Atom CPU too, which is critical. Note that this video dates from Jan 2010 and there's newer versions of both products now. However, it's still valid today, as the performance balance hasn't changed much between the two processor architectures. This is because the differences are inherent to them (x86 is hot and inefficient, basically) so it doesn’t really matter how much each one is tweaked, the performance ratios will stay roughly the same.
Posted on Reply
#21
Wile E
Power User
Chevalr1c said:
For those who think that the performance of that ARM chip is crap:
It is crap. But it's good enough for what I would use it for, which is essentially a music player.
Posted on Reply
#22
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
Chevalr1c said:
For those who think that the performance of that ARM chip is crap:
So showing that it is noticeably slower than a POS Atom at even the basic task of loading webpages, is proof that ARM isn't crap? No, ARM is crap for anything a real computer would be used for, but for applications where utterly shit performance doesn't matter, it works.

It is kind of like saying riding your bike to work gets you there so it isn't a crap method of travel. And the proof is in the fact that riding your bike is slower than riding a MoPed to work, but not that much slower...
Posted on Reply
#23
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
power : performance the ARM wins hands down. power : performance is where corporations are moving as the cost of energy skyrockets. we have hit a point where you dont need much computing power to run a browser and email. all of that processing can be done in the cloud. there is a sea change ahead and if you don't get on board you will drown.
Posted on Reply
#24
Wile E
Power User
Easy Rhino said:
power : performance the ARM wins hands down. power : performance is where corporations are moving as the cost of energy skyrockets. we have hit a point where you dont need much computing power to run a browser and email. all of that processing can be done in the cloud. there is a sea change ahead and if you don't get on board you will drown.
My job uses Atoms and cloud.

It sucks total shit. Horribly slow and actually hurts production. ARM would only exasperate the issue.

It may be the future, but that future isn't viable for a long time to come.
Posted on Reply
#25
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
Wile E said:
My job uses Atoms and cloud.

It sucks total shit. Horribly slow and actually hurts production. ARM would only exasperate the issue.

It may be the future, but that future isn't viable for a long time to come.
yea i didnt say it was great right now :laugh: but it is coming. i use it at work and it is very fast since we RDP into a VM on a fiber backbone. companies like intel and amd won't survive forever on bulk desktop sales. arm has the right approach and is ahead in that regard but no doubt intel has an arsenal of awesome just waiting to be unleashed. amd is like the retarded child who wont enter the game until it can sue intel and have some capital to start research :toast:
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