The premise was simple: Create a the least expensive, fully functional PC and make it available to less privileged students/citizens worldwide.
The result, the Raspberry Pi, is a credit-card sized bare-bones PC crafted on a budget and designed to inspire students to once again challenge their minds and learn the internals of a computer as opposed to simply hitting the stores to pick up the latest pre-packaged ready meal equivalent of the PC scene.
Available in two slightly varying forms dependant upon consumer’s needs, the Raspberry Pi Model A boasts 256MB of RAM and a single USB port, whilst the Model B variant adds a second USB connector and an Ethernet port for network connections.
Both models of the Raspberry Pi computer feature the ARM1176JZFS 700GHz single-core processor and Videocore 4 GPU capable of Full HD Blu-ray quality video playback. An SD card is needed for storage, and necessary to boot the OS (which is Linux by the way, with Debian and Fedora distributions being officially supported, and premade SD card images available for download).
You can output an image to your screen or TV via an HDMI port (with sound) or the standard RCA with line-out for audio.
Of course, having an ARM processor precludes the possibility of running Windows on the Pi (or non-ARM version of Linux for that matter), and is the equivalent of a 300 MHz Pentium 2 in terms of CPU processing power. But the GPU has the graphics grunt of an Xbox 1, and thus can render high-definition video with no problem. Spreadsheets, word-processing, games are all within scope.
And while the "high-end" model costs a paltry 36$, the model A with only 1 USB and no Ethernet port can be obtained for a mere 22$.
“Our main function is a charitable one,” a Raspberry Pi spokesperson said. “We’re trying to build the cheapest possible computer that provides a certain basic level of functionality, and keeping the price low means we’ve had to make hard decisions about what hardware and interfaces to include.”
The spokesperson added that the purpose behind the basic Linux based PC is “to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.”
Despite limiting supplies to a single unit per customer, the Model B Ethernet port packing Raspberry Pi sold out within a matter of hours following its release earlier this year on leap year day, February 29th.
With further stocks of the double USB port touting Model B Raspberry Pi set to be made available in the near future, it has been confirmed that the lower specced Model A iteration will also touch down in Europe ‘soon’ although an exact arrival has yet to be confirmed.
And before you ask, international shipping was on the objectives list from the get-go, so maybe an enterprising spirit can find a way to introduce the Pi to under-privileged Middle-Eastern schools.