Raspberry Pi is a PC stripped down to its most essential parts. It’s built around a low power processor from Broadcom that combines a CPU and RAM onto a single chip, placed on a credit card-sized circuit board. It uses an SD card for storage, and you have to supply your own keyboard and mouse.
So why Pi?
Raspberry Pi is the brainchild of Ebon Upton, a team from Cambridge University and other institutions in the UK. They worried that computers and phones were becoming too sealed off from the end user. Basically, they worried that school kids are learning how to use programs like Word and phone apps, but not how computers work and can be programmed. So Pi is basic, cheap and comes with loads of tools for teaching kids to program. Most of all, though, it makes computers fun again.
I want your money honey
The astonishing thing about the Pi is the price. 256MB of RAM, costs just $25 (R222.01) and the 512MB is $35 (R310). That’s a full PC, for about the cost of a nice family meal.
It’s inside that counts
The processor is similar to those found in tablets and mobile phones, and is designed to run the Linux operating system. So it behaves like a desktop PC and is completely flexible. Many people use them as cheap media centres, playing back high def video from remote storage to their PCs. It’s not quite powerful enough to replace your laptop, though – it does struggle with even simple tasks sometimes.
Ports and all
Pi is powered by a microUSB port, and has audio out and HDMI connectors on board. The pins that stick up are for connecting it to other devices, so that it can be used as a controller for robots and the like. A networking port means Pi can be connected and accessed anywhere. You can build a home security system using a Pi and a camera, for example, and so long as it has network access see who’s in your house from anywhere in the world.
Want to know more about Pi?
For more information, head over to www.raspberrypi.org. There, you can read more about the Raspberry Pi, order your own and join the vibrant community that has sprung up around the device. You can order your own Raspberry Pi online from local website RS Components (http://za.rs-online.com). The waiting time is about 6 weeks as the Pi will need to be imported.