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Education United Kingdom Hardware

Details About Raspberry Pi Foundation's $25 PC 349

First time accepted submitter salcan writes "There is growing interest surrounding the Raspberry Pi Foundation and their promise of a PC that will cost just $25. We've seen how the OLPC has struggled to deliver a $100 laptop for developing countries, and yet Raspberry Pi is confident in delivering the $25 PC by November this year. Eben Upton, director of the foundation, recently gave a talk at Bletchley Park regarding Educating Programmers, which focused on the thinking behind the $25 PC."
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Details About Raspberry Pi Foundation's $25 PC

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  • The Raspberry Pi isn't exactly the same thing -- it does not include a case, keyboard, LCD, or speakers. But, you can probably get all that stuff for another $25. So maybe the OLPC has a new partner.
    • Your comment got me thinking. It's been years since the XO-3 tablet was announced, what the hell happened to that? Googling only gives me old news.

    • this idea always made more sense to me, give "base" PC to kids for (almost) free because there are lots of free keyboards, mouses, 15" LCD everywhere. Hell, we are creating mountins of it on daily basis. OLPC was too focused on children living in the middle of nowhere. But they are IMO not really concerned about computing anyway. We should give them ordinary mobile phones first, it is much more useful to them. This computer is covering way more people and use cases.
    • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

      Keyboards, Screens, Cases and Speakers are all devices that have not changed much in years...

      A CRT from 15 years ago will be perfectly capable of displaying a useful resolution, and are often being given away. Plus this device is capable of output to a TV set, anything from a modern HDMI HDTV, down to an old analog set.
      Speakers (or headphones) are widely available, old ones are often thrown out.
      A keyboard from 20 years ago will have the same keys as a modern one, some people even prefer to use older keyboar

    • Laptop has all custom parts

      R.Pi has no screen (use a TV or any screen you have), Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers, or Case no custom parts ...

      Assuming existing TV as monitor and headphones, you can pick up a USB Mouse and Keyboard for less than $10 ... what else do you need?

  • The new Arduino (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AC-x ( 735297 ) on Friday September 02, 2011 @05:53AM (#37283986)

    $25 is less than the cost of most Arduino boards, if it's possible to add some digital/analogue inputs/outputs it could become electronics bloggers new favourite toy (at least for high power mains projects, I suspect Arduino will still have much better power consumption!)

  • Problem (Score:4, Interesting)

    by should_be_linear ( 779431 ) on Friday September 02, 2011 @06:05AM (#37284020)
    If 128MB version costs $25, why they didn't go with 2GB for $30 instead? $5 difference for almost "classic" web PC with mainstream OS (Ubuntu).
    • Re:Problem (Score:4, Interesting)

      by White Flame ( 1074973 ) on Friday September 02, 2011 @06:21AM (#37284082)

      They're making a 256MB version with additional ports for $35. I doubt they could put 2GB of RAM on there; most of these ARM SoCs are intended to use stacked chips, and I don't think they've gone beyond 256MB in the stacked form factor.

      Even if the chip does allow using a non-stacked configuration, that's still extra board real estate & wiring which increases the complexity of the build, and $5 isn't going to get you 2GB of memory anyway.

      • I guess problem is funding, they are doing great job with existing components, but obviously it is not possible for them to design SoC around ARM. However, likes of Google are able to do that and give PCs (properly configured for their services) for free. Also, this is neat for display/TV makers, they can have "default" PC in every display they create. One advanced SoC chip, USB and LAN port, microSD port as HDD, WiFi antenna built in, all that is minimal additional costs (way below $25, depending on SoC ge
        • by Alranor ( 472986 )

          More likely is that the TV makers will look at this and put a chip in the display to make sure that you're properly licensed to be viewing whatever content you're passing to it, and DRM strikes again.

          • by Jeng ( 926980 )

            I was thinking TV makers would put this in their displays as a way to provide low cost internet capabilities.

            Only Sony would add a DRM chip in their products to specifically counter a low usage device such as this.

  • Want. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by neokushan ( 932374 )

    I want one of these and I can easily afford (and own) PC's worth 4-figures.

    I don't know why, I just want one.

    • Because they're fun? I did development on a board with a similar spec about ten years ago - back then it was an expensive and unusual board in a research lab. The difference that comes from a "disposable" price-point is amazing. I'm sure there will be a huge number of fun projects with these boards outside of their target educational market. If you want to go for the luxury $100 market then gumstix [] are quite nice boards to play with.

  • If so many people use their PC for web browsing only, absolutely anything that is more power efficient ,portable and cheap should find its market and not only in third world countries .I saw a movie on youtube showing Quake 3 being played (and rather smoothly) on Raspberry PI, so it's not that slow.
  • Unfair comparison (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JBHarris ( 890771 ) <bharris@isf.COLAcom minus caffeine> on Friday September 02, 2011 @06:42AM (#37284166)
    The Raspberry Pi hardware doesn't do the same things as the OLPC does. The Raspberry doesn't include an form of input or output as part of the reference hardware. So, at that point we are basically selling a computing core, ram, and some storage for $25. If the students need monitors, mice & keyboards at each location, they may as well just carry around a USB thumb stick with a custom LiveOS and put the Pi or other processing core at the work station. That sounds a LOT like my son's middle school.
    • by slim ( 1652 )

      If the students need monitors, mice & keyboards at each location, they may as well just carry around a USB thumb stick with a custom LiveOS and put the Pi or other processing core at the work station. That sounds a LOT like my son's middle school.

      I think the vision is for the kid to be coding at home. The people running the project will remember Western kids learning to code in front of the family TV, hunched over a home computer on the floor. Having to go to a lab to do this is not as good.

  • by benbean ( 8595 ) on Friday September 02, 2011 @06:46AM (#37284184)

    Looks like a great project. I think a key though will be to have some well-written documentation or tutorials to go with it. For my first computer (Atari 800XL), my Dad just bought a book on BASIC and a book of type-in games, and it was going through those that encouraged me to learn and experiment. Hopefully they can get a hookup with O'Reilly or somebody to produce a companion volume.

    Reeeally pie in the sky wish would be for a BBC series to go with it, a la The Computer Programme, Making the Most of your Micro and Micro Live. Never gonna happen sadly. :-(

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday September 02, 2011 @07:42AM (#37284402) Homepage Journal

    Something we didn’t realize is that Raspberry Pi not only intend to make this PC work through a HDMI and DVI connection, they also want it plugged into old analog TVs just like kids managed with in the 80s.

    That's probably OK for the next couple of years, while the digital TV switch is recent enough that people are still giving/throwing away their analog TVs. But by 2014-15, the cost of adding the analog TV interface to every motherboard just for the tiny few which will find new cheap analog TVs will not be worth it. Cheaper would be work on a cheap HDMI/analog downconverter. Which sounds like an excellent project from the HW community using a cheap motherboard like this one. By 2015 HDMI TVs will be cheap enough, and enough getting given/thrown away, that they'll probably be more plentiful and cheaper than the antique analog TVs still passing through the hands of collectors and luddites.

  • by YenRug ( 2452148 ) on Friday September 02, 2011 @07:49AM (#37284432)
    From what I can read, so far, nearly all of the commenters are missing the point. This is not intended as a "cheap PC" option in the same way that OLPC was meant to get laptops into the hands of third-world children; if you read up on it, it's intention is for use as a "standard platform" for learning programming techniques in a limited environment. People like David Braben grew up learning to write extremely efficient code because they had such limited memory to work with, such as the Sinclair ZX80/ZX81 which only had 16KB (NOT a typo, that's KB, not MB), the Acorn/BBC B with 32KB and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum with 48KB. There is a general feeling that current students are getting "sloppy" and presume they're always going to have GB's of memory to stretch out in, so they've created PI to encourage creative thinking without placing too much demand on the wallets of students.
    • It won't make any difference. They will get put on corporate desktops with 4 gigs of RAM. Somebody will decide to do the job with MVC and before you know it you have 100000 source files and a few gigabytes of code.

  • I teach some Unix system programming courses at a college. These might be a really good tool for that; for negligible cost, the students can have a fully-functional Linux box gives them real hardware root access, without the risk that they'll do any damage to anything.
    • by renoX ( 11677 )

      >the students can have a fully-functional Linux box

      The GPU's driver is a blob so I wouldn't say "fully-functionnal", sadly.

  • All it is is a processor, with some memory. No keyboard, no display, no wireless. You can't say 'Why is the cheap laptop 100$?'.

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