Raspberry Pi celebrates its fourth birthday with a processor upgrade

1 min read

The development of the Raspberry Pi is quite a story. From an idea that originated during a conversation between a couple of people walking through London’s Hyde Park, sales of the credit card sized computer have now reached 8million – and there are no signs of interest slowing.

The first version of the board was launched four years ago today. That featured an ARM11 based SoC from Broadcom. Now, Pi 3 Model B comes with a quad core Cortex-A53 based SoC -- still from Broadcom – with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Users of Pi 3 will have access to around 10 times the computing power of that original board.

Such is the interest in the board that Pi is now available as a module; users can develop their application using a Pi, but design their own PCB and drop in a Pi module if and when it comes to volume manufacture.

Yet, despite Pi’s success amongst product developers, it seems the original target market for the device has been pushed somewhat to the sidelines – and the Trustees admit that breaking through in the education sector remains a tough challenge. That Hyde Park conversation related to the debug and code writing skills of students going to Cambridge University. Earlier, Eben Upton had come up with the idea of giving students a computer in June and telling them to do ‘something useful’ with it.

That didn’t come to anything, but a couple of years later,the idea resurfaced and the first steps were made. But those behind Pi only expected to sell about 10,000.

Raspberry Pi is where it is today because RS Components and element14 licensed the design and put their weight behind it. Otherwise, in the words of Pi Foundation trustee Pete Lomas, ‘we would still be hand soldering them’. But it would be a shame to see the academic ambitions kicked into the long grass.