A 15 Pound Breakthrough in Computers



The Rasberry
Raspberry Pi device with attached 12MPixel camera module

That £15 as in English money or $25 American.   The computer looks to be around one ounce. Developed by David Braben for the nonprofit Raspberry Pi Foundation The Computer is about the size of a thumbdrive and is intended to be used by grade school children to get introduced to the ideas of computer structure and programming.  Today computer classes are mostly about typing papers, building a spreadsheet, and creating presentatations.   Braben’s vision is to have students learn programming and be able to have their own machines to explore and really learn.

Braben argues that education since we entered the 2000s has turned towards ICT which teaches useful skills such as writing documents in a word processor, how to create presentations, and basic computer use skills. But that has replaced more computer science-like skills such as basic programming and understanding the architecture and hardware contained in a computer.

His solution is not to create his own course, but instead to manufacture a very low cost PC that can be given to kids for free and courses built up around their use. When we say low cost, we mean so low even the OLPC would be impressed.

Braben has developed a tiny USB stick PC that has a HDMI port in one end and a USB port on the other. You plug it into a HDMI socket and then connect a keyboard via the USB port giving you a fully functioning machine running a version of Linux. The cost? $25.

The hardware being offered is no slouch either. It uses a 700MHz ARM11 processor coupled with 128MB of RAM and runs OpenGL ES 2.0 allowing for decent graphics performance with 1080p output confirmed. Storage is catered for by an SD card slot. It also looks as though modules can be attached such as the 12MP camera seen in the image above.

The provisional specifications are pretty impressive:

  • 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)

Note this is a fully functional system capable of surfing the web programming and running typical office programs.

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