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Raspberry Pi Model A Makes First Appearance 101

Posted by timothy
from the any-color-so-long-as-it's-arm dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It's easy to forget that the Raspberry Pi currently shipping is the more expensive model of the board. It is actually called the Model B as it sports more features than the $25 Model A. The main differences [compared to the B model] include a lack of an Ethernet port and the associated networking chip, as well as the presence of only one USB port instead of two. There was originally going to be less memory on the Model A (128MB instead of 256MB), but the Raspberry Pi Foundation managed to make enough cost savings during a redesign to increase the amount to 256MB on the cheaper version. With all the focus being on the Model B, we haven't actually seen the (near) final Model A board yet. But that changes today, as Eben Upton has just shown off the $25 board."
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Raspberry Pi Model A Makes First Appearance

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    "The main differences include a lack of an Ethernet port and the associated networking chip, as well as the presence of only being one USB port instead of two."

    There are editors somewhere aren't there? That understand English?

    • Re:English please? (Score:5, Informative)

      by nadaou (535365) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:18PM (#40570989) Homepage

      > There are editors somewhere aren't there?

      No, generally not. This is a semi-automated crowd sourced news aggregation site not a tech news magazine. Spend some time at firehose.pl to understand how it works and how stories get voted onto the front page, typically more verbatim* than not.

      * if that made you cringe then comfort yourself in knowing that it was only a partially unique experience.

    • I didn't have any problems reading it. Maybe a grammar nazi could point out the issues?

      • by retchdog (1319261)

        "include a lack of an ethernet port" is weird but correct; "the presence of only being one USB port" is weird and wrong, although easy to read.

        i love the english language, but i usually hate grammar nazis even more. still, it's a bit ridiculous what gets onto slashdot's front page. since US-centrism is in their official policy, you'd think they would use english correctly.

  • Interesting. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by queazocotal (915608) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:59PM (#40570765)

    So - no CSI/DSI - for which there are no drivers anyway.
    No ethernet port.
    I do wonder what that white blob in place of the ethernet/USB hub chip is.
    Is it simply a bit of tape, to cover some wires linking the USB directly to the SoC, or something else.

    As to why this is an interesting bit of hardware - it's not.
    It's interesting because it's a relatively open platform, at a reasonable price point.

    Devices I want a model A for.
    Wifi weather-station controller.
    Heating controller.
    Door camera system.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by pipatron (966506)

      My main issue with the device is that they crippled the openess to include something that no one in this target group actually wants - 1080p video.

      • Re:Interesting. (Score:5, Informative)

        by macemoneta (154740) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:06PM (#40570859) Homepage

        My main issue with the device is that they crippled the openess to include something that no one in this target group actually wants - 1080p video.

        Unless you want to run XBMC, and turn a dumb TV into a smartTV for $25.

      • by Polo (30659) *

        Why would you assume that, I do!

      • i bought it because it has 1080p video
      • by ThePeices (635180)

        My main issue with the device is that they crippled the openess to include something that no one in this target group actually wants - 1080p video.

        Not bad, not bad. I can see you put little effort into your troll post, but everybody loves a trier.

        I particularly enjoyed your "nobody wants 1080p" attempt, but unfortunately the trollish aspect was pretty obvious, so it failed to work well.

        Next time, try more subtlety in the false statement to see if you can catch anybody out, but in all, ill rate your trolling attempt a 4/10.

        Better luck next time dude.

    • Re:Interesting. (Score:5, Informative)

      by sirsnork (530512) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:19PM (#40571001)

      The schematics show that when the ethernet chip (also a USB hub) is missing there are two SMD resistors that connect the actual port up to the single USB pins on the main SOC. When the chip is present those resistors are left off and that port goes into the ethernet chip to give both ethernet connectivity and two additional USB ports.

      No idea what the white blob is, but it's not something required to make the USB port work.

      No idea why the CSI connector isn't attached, seemingly there is nothing stopping it working if the header is attached as it's completely supplied by the main SOC

    • The 'white blob' looks rather shiny to me, with some slight 'striping', I'd guess a fuzzy picture of some unpopulated solder pads...
    • by klaws (66658)

      That "white spot" is the ground plane + heat sink for the ethernet/usb hub IC.

  • by muon-catalyzed (2483394) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:05PM (#40570831)
    How does that Broadcom SoC compare to the current Shenzen's SoC king the disruptive $7 Allwinner-A10 [rhombus-tech.net] SoC?

    Bonus: comes with open source GPU driver, unlike RasPi.
    • by kwalker (1383)

      For those of us outside mainland China, how would we get our hands on one of these?

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      I really like it. Is there a cheap and open system available with it, like an EOMA-68 with mini-engineering board around it?

    • by Vairon (17314) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:46PM (#40571791)

      The Allwinner A10 has an incomplete 72 page summary of features that calls itself a datasheet [dropbox.com] compared to a fairly nice 205 page peripheral datasheet [raspberrypi.org] for the Broadcom BCM2835 SOC in the Raspberry Pi.

      The Allwinner A10, like the BCM2835, uses closed source proprietary libraries to access 3D features of its GPU. The MALI 400 GPU is being reverse engineered which is why there is a preliminary open source GPU driver [gitorious.org].

      The Allwinner A10 CPU/GPU are faster but less efficient and use more power than the Raspberry Pi's BCM2835.

      The Rhombus Allwinner A10 has no final cost yet unlike the Raspberry Pi. They are hoping to hit a $15 price point if they purchase 100,000 units. The Raspberry Pi is available today at $35 which was achieved with only an initial 10,000 units purchased.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by citizenr (871508)

        The Raspberry Pi is available today at $35

        Stop lying. Its LISTED on a site somewhere, but its NOT available. You can click it, send money and wait till November, thats not selling, thats pre ordering.

        • by dululu (608910)

          The Raspberry Pi is available today at $35

          Stop lying. Its LISTED on a site somewhere, but its NOT available. You can click it, send money and wait till November, thats not selling, thats pre ordering.

          How is he lying? I've got my Raspberry Pi in my hands, so it is available today. The fact that you hyave a long waiting period doesn't mean that it's not available

          • by horza (87255)

            When you order a couch, you can wait a couple of months before you finally take delivery. If you order, and they make it clear you will take delivery in November, then the terms and conditions are clear. If your shopping experience is limited to throwing things into a trolley at Walmart then this may be difficult to understand, but this kind of thing is not uncommon in the real world.

            Phillip.

        • I agree there, its not "available". You can order it, but it has to be procued first, the people before you in line will have to get theirs, and so it won't be shipped in quite some time.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      comes with open source GPU driver, unlike RasPi.

      Really? Where are the sources? I know the limaproject is trying to implement one, but I have yet to see an open source driver that does anything more than bare-bones 2D support, let alone actual 3D.

  • Cue! (Score:1, Redundant)

    Cue the "it sucks", "why bother", "too expensive" whinges.

    *looks up*

    Oh, too late. Already started.

  • by rrohbeck (944847)

    A Raspberry pie article! I haven't seen one in days, already had withdrawal symptoms.

    That said, I'm still trying to order one. WTF? They were supposed to be readily available this week.
    After a long time on the waiting list, element14 still gives me the "Real Soon Now!" message.

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      A Raspberry pie article! I haven't seen one in days, already had withdrawal symptoms.

      How do you tell? Is the victim curled up in a Pi shape?

    • by Zebedeu (739988)

      You have to pre-register.
      After a while you'll get an email with an order code you can use on the website.
      I did it when the Rpi was announced and got the email a few weeks later.

      I was really busy at the time, so I ignored the email and forgot about it.
      Until two weeks ago, when I decided to follow through with the order. They're expecting to send it "within 10 weeks", which frankly is a lot, but not unexpected.

      I'm going to attach an external USB drive to it and set it up in a remote location to serve as a rem

  • by drunkahol (143049) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:24PM (#40571045)

    Loving my Model B Pi, but can't help thinking that there's a niche wanting filled for systems that can actually function as a near normal desktop. Something with more grunt, more RAM etc. My phone is a quad core ARM CPU, why not a system a little larger than the Pi for the older audience who remember the Model B, Master & Archimedes the first time round. We have the cashflow and desire to use.
    (just don't make an Electron version - even if it has Plus 1 and Plus 3 expansion modules like I had back in the day!)

    D

    • by Dogtanian (588974) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:51PM (#40571821) Homepage
      Seems like history repeating itself here. As Slashdotters may know, the "Model A" and "Model B" designations are a homage to the two original versions of the BBC Micro. [wikipedia.org] In that case (as Braben himself will be aware!), the more powerful Model B was by far the more popular of the two despite its higher cost. The "BBC B 32K" became the canonical version of the computer, with the Model A little more than a footnote.

      So is this the same situation we're seeing here?

      (just don't make an Electron version - even if it has Plus 1 and Plus 3 expansion modules like I had back in the day!)

      Yes... given that the Acorn Electron [wikipedia.org]- intended as a cut-down "home" version of the BBC Micro- was a flop (*) that led to Acorn being taken over, that would probably be A Bad Thing. Also, as far as I know, the Electron was pretty underpowered and needed those add-on modules for any "serious" expansion.

      (*) Sort of- apparently what happened was that there *was* quite high demand for it, but they had problems with the custom ULA chip and couldn't get enough out in time for Christmas. By the time they had the problem sorted out in the New Year, those potential customers had bought rival machines instead and Acorn were left with warehouses full of unsold Electrons.

      • So is this the same situation we're seeing here?

        Had they gone with the original plan of having half the ram on the model A compared to the model B I would have thought so.

        But they decided a while back to put the same ammount of ram on both. That leaves us in a situation where the core hardware that is important to software developers is the same between both models, the only difference is whether or not the USB hub with ethernet is present.

    • Loving my Model B Pi, but can't help thinking that there's a niche wanting filled for systems that can actually function as a near normal desktop. Something with more grunt, more RAM etc.

      What about nettops, then? Okay, they cost more than the Raspberry PI, but you get a fairly decent, low power and small footprint desktop computer that can run your OS of choice while being a more than competent HTPC.

      For what it's worth, I've been using a ZOTAC ZBOX HD-AD01 for more than one year as my main computer (while much more capable hardware is mostly gathering dust) and just the other day Tom's Hardware compared seven of them [tomshardware.com] in great detail.

      RT.

    • It occurs to me the Pi people may be working on this already.
      But if they were what would happen if they told people about it? Would they get told off again for announcing a product before it is ready? Would next time they wait until they have a few tens of thousand made before releasing them?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For the love of glorb I hope the Model A has bigger polyfuses on the USB ports than 140mA. No USB WiFi adapter works with under 200+mA of power so let's hope that has been considered.

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <(fairwater) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:20PM (#40571551) Homepage

    "It's easy to forget that the Raspberry Pi currently shipping is the more expensive model of the board.

    No, it's not easy - because Slashdot reminds us of every trivial thing about the Raspberry Pi on a daily basis.

  • Earlier this week I received an email from one of the distribution partners to tell me they were accepting orders, fortunately I noticed during the checkout process that shipping costs "couldn't be determined" at that point and would be tacked on later, mucking around with their shipping calculator it appeared that their cheapest rate is $18 or over 50% of the cost of the Pi.
    • it appeared that their cheapest rate is $18 or over 50% of the cost of the Pi.

      Really, *that's* your complaint? That the Raspberry Pi is so inexpensive that a sub-$20 international shipping rate is too high relative to the price of the device for your liking?

      • by mirix (1649853)

        That's a pretty reasonable complaint. For my situation, shipping is $12 through newark.

        35 + 12, + tax.. pretty much 50 bucks. A bit of a stretch from the semi-disposable-25-dollar-PC meme.

        I get pi sized parcels from china all the time for $5 *including* the bloody contents, so $18 for something that size is ridiculous. Even ignoring the fact that it nearly doubles the price - If a pi was $200 I'd still feel bad spending $18 on shipping.

        • by Luthair (847766)
          Exactly, this isn't 1997. I've had computer cases shipped for half that and many online stores offer free shipping on orders around this amount on items significantly heavier (e.g. books).
        • I get pi sized parcels from china all the time for $5 *including* the bloody contents

          Exactly - those aren't worth pilfering.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            If I order a $35 gadget from dealextreme they often mark it signature required, but I still get free shipping from China.

  • by ax25-ack (2666807) on Friday July 06, 2012 @09:57PM (#40572791)
    I think the project is a good one. I cut my teeth on an on sale TS-1000 from a catalog store Montgomery Wards that had it on closeout for $35.00. Call me stupid, but the hours I spend mashing the membrane keyboard learning every last bit of the z-80 and what it could do still serves me well!

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