Raspberry Pi: The $25 USB key-sized computer

It's yet another initiative to build low power, portable, and affordable computers for educational purposes, especially in the developing world. Previous attempts have not seen widespread success, such as the One Laptop Per Child initiative. Then there is also the Indian $30 tablet that may never come to fruition in the market. How about this next attempt - miniaturize the computer to the size of a USB key? Granted, their idea isn't exactly new, but it is one of the smallest computers around, and it's aiming for a $25 price tag. Keyboard, mouse, and monitor are unfortunately not included.

Crunchgear has the details of this tiny machine. Its specifications, which are also available on the official Raspberry Pi site, are matched or surpassed by today's smartphones:

  • 700 MHz ARM11 processor
  • 128 MB of SDRAM
  • USB 2.0 connectivity
  • General I/O (supports cameras, wireless cards, etc.)
  • HDMI or composite video output
  • Capable of OpenGL ES 2.0
  • Supports SD and MMC flash carts

An example of the machine's configuration is shown below, running Ubuntu 9.04:

While the machine's total costs are much higher than $25 due to the inclusion of additional peripherals needed to run the machine (perhaps acquiring recycled hardware may offset some costs), the Raspberry Pi Foundation believes their machine will find widespread use in classrooms, and many other applications in developed or developing nations. Nevertheless, even tech-savvy folk may find it interesting to have a working computer in their pocket to take with them.

The BBC conducted an interview with the UK-based Raspberry Pi Foundation, which may be seen here.

Image Credit: Raspberry Pi

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Team Fortress 2 gets video replay system in newest update

Next Story

LastPass suffers possible hacker intrusion

36 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I am presently using a USB connected KVM switch and 3 PCs. I wouldn't mind something like this on the 4th free port to use only for downloading purposes which does not require much processing power. Already have a buch of 8 an 16 gb SD cards and would not need any more hardware.

Could save me a bundle in power costs.

Very cool... hopefully can get my hands on a few of these, can think of a few fun uses for them. Project #1 would probably be a touchscreen client mounted in the kitchen somewhere.

Jen Smith said,
Very cool... hopefully can get my hands on a few of these, can think of a few fun uses for them. Project #1 would probably be a touchscreen client mounted in the kitchen somewhere.

First thing I thought of too. A tablet eComic reader or possbly music servers ala Slingbox based around XBMC. The possibilities are limitless. I'd definitely pick a couple up just for messing around with.

garychencool said,
well it has to be Linux or Windows would crash it every time xD, or be slow as hell.

Is their a flash drive for the OS though?

I presume that's what the SD/MMC card is for.

All the brains and technology in this, and they couldn't put ANY effort into the webpage... I mean, at least steal a template on blogger.com or something for the love of god.

With a couple of tweaks, it would make a LOVELY Media Player, as at the moment I'm using the Patriot Box Media Player, which is great, but doesn't get codec updates as fast as I would like. A tiny, low power, Linux box would be absolutely perfect!

yowan said,
They should atleast add 1GB of RAM and a dual Core ARM

It's a teaching tool for school kids. Can you see them programming multi threaded apps at beginners level?

_DP said,

It's a teaching tool for school kids. Can you see them programming multi threaded apps at beginners level?

Psh, I had multiple dispatch queues going when I was 6!

Seriously, this does sound like an awesome thing for schools!

Is this going to be available to the general public?

Could be a half decent machine if it can play HD video, you could install the ARM version of XBMC onto it.

Jenson said,
Is this going to be available to the general public?

Could be a half decent machine if it can play HD video, you could install the ARM version of XBMC onto it.

I forgot to mention this in the article, but the specs on the site also mention "1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode," which implies it's quite possible.

Great technology exercise, but surely hopelessly impractical in the outside world, even in the suggested applications.
The "$25" is like the advertised cost of a Ryanair flight - it doesn't include any of the "extras".

Glassed Silver said,
That thing is massively underpowered compared to my Mac and netbook, still:
The geek in me wants it!

GS:mac

I just saw a guy talking about it on the BBC news site. He apparently wants it to go to every child in the country so they can start teaching computer science in schools again, rather than the current (and very basic) ICT stuff that they do. I'm all for it to be honest, ITC when I was at school was totally lame and not much more than you could pick up by yourself with a few hours of playing around with the apps.

Anyway, he sounded a little unprepared when he was asked to say what the kids would do with it. Bit unsure about that.
He says that the idea behind it is, technology is too complex for a beginner to truly understand at the moment, so why not make a little device that makes it easier to learn?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13292450