Raspberry Pi: a $25 computer on a stick

May 9, 2011
Computer Stick

$25 Raspberry Pi computer runs Ubuntu Linux (12 Megapixel camera not included) (credit: Raspberry Pi Foundation)

An ultra-low-cost computer for use in teaching computer programming to children has been developed by The Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK registered charity.

The first version is about the size of a USB key, and is designed to plug into a TV or be combined with a touch screen for a low cost tablet. The expected price is $25 for a fully configured system.

Raspberry Pi’s mission recalls other projects that have attempted to make low-cost computers available to kids, like the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) initiative’s dream of $100 Internet-ready laptops worldwide, or a $35 tablet from India. OLPC has had some notable successes in places like Uruguay, but has run into problems delivering on its low-cost promises — a challenge Raspberry Pi will also face, and with even fewer resources.

The computer is essentially an ARM processor, USB port, and HDMI connection. Connect it to a keyboard and a television or monitor and you have a fully functional Linux system.

Here’s the provisional specification:

  • 700MHz ARM11
  • 128MB of SDRAM
  • OpenGL ES 2.0
  • 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode
  • Composite and HDMI video output
  • USB 2.0
  • SD/MMC/SDIO memory card slot
  • General-purpose I/O
  • Open software (Ubuntu, Iceweasel, KOffice, Python)