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Manufacturing begins for the Raspberry Pi microcomputer

Manufacturing begins for the Raspberry Pi microcomputer

The Raspberry Pi ARM-based microcomputer is nearly here, with the first units being made now.

The Raspberry Pi $35 ARM-based microcomputer, designed by David Braben and Eben Upton to help boost computing education in the UK with an affordable and highly-hackable platform for experimentation, is nearly here, with manufacturing started on the first batch of 10,000 Model B units.

The size of a credit card, the Raspberry Pi has caught the imagination of hackers across the globe. Packing a Broadcom BCM2835 system-on-chip processor at its heart, the 700MHz ARM processor and VideoCore IV GPU won't exactly run Crysis; but they will run Quake III and play back Full HD video content, while providing plenty of scope to run a full Linux distribution from an SD card.

The initial production run will comprise, Liz Upton has explained, entirely Model B units. More expensive than the $25 Model As, the Model Bs - borrowing a naming convention first used by Acorn for the BBC Micro - double the memory to 256MB and add a wired Ethernet connection missing from the cheaper design.

With prices for early beta boards skyrocketing on eBay - with a charity auction for the Raspberry Pi with serial number #1 hitting a remarkable £3,300 so far - demand is sure to be high, as evidenced by the Raspberry Pi website falling down due to the traffic generated when manufacturing was announced late last night.

Not all news is good, however: both Braben and Upton were keen to make the Raspberry Pi a truly British venture, in the tradition of microcomputing pioneers like Acorn - which would later give birth to Acorn RISC Machines, or ARM - and Sinclair. However, high manufacturing costs and tax restrictions have meant the initial production will occur in the Far East instead.

'Simply put, if we build the Raspberry Pi in Britain, we have to pay a lot more tax. If a British company imports components, it has to pay tax on those - and most components are not made in the UK. If, however, a completed device is made abroad and imported into the UK – with all of those components soldered onto it – it does not attract any import duty at all,' Liz Upton explains of the decision. 'This means that it’s really, really tax inefficient for an electronics company to do its manufacturing in Britain, and it’s one of the reasons that so much of our manufacturing goes overseas.

'Right now, the way things stand means that a company doing its manufacturing abroad, depriving the UK economy, gets a tax break. It’s an absolutely mad way for the Inland Revenue to be running things, and it’s an issue we’ve taken up with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. So, we have had to make the pragmatic decision and look to Taiwan and China for our manufacturing, at least for this first batch.'

With production turn-around estimated at three to four weeks, it looks like the long-delayed Raspberry Pi could finally go on sale in February; although Upton is keen to stress that a firm date for sales to begin has not yet been picked.

Do you have any mods in mind for the ultra-tiny Raspberry Pi, or do you need something a little more powerful before you get excited? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

50 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
badders 11th January 2012, 12:14 Quote
Exciting news, although with the first batch limited to 10K units, I'm not overly confident in being able to get hold of one!
Krikkit 11th January 2012, 12:15 Quote
Looks like a spanking bit of kit, a model B could make a great USB torrent box. Either way, I want one to play with!
steveo_mcg 11th January 2012, 12:31 Quote
Looking forward to getting to play with one (or more) of these.
MiNiMaL_FuSS 11th January 2012, 12:33 Quote
will they come as a pcb as in the current pics to cut costs?

Or will they be boxed in some way?

Can't see them selling to the mass market unless they have a case.
coolius 11th January 2012, 12:34 Quote
Can't wait to get one of these - I hear an XBMC port is very close already!
steveo_mcg 11th January 2012, 12:37 Quote
As I understand it they'll just be the board at the moment with a case coming soon.
Probably perfect for us at the moment though. New surge of modds coming soon? A suggestion for the ed....
jezmck 11th January 2012, 12:38 Quote
I'll be getting one if I can.

Web server at first, perhaps more eventually.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MiNiMaL_FuSS
will they come as a pcb as in the current pics to cut costs?

Or will they be boxed in some way?

Can't see them selling to the mass market unless they have a case.
As pictured.

They're not intended for the mass-market.


PS - http://www.raspberrypi.org/
Vo0Ds 11th January 2012, 12:45 Quote
Little bit of Xubuntu and XBMC action possibly? Very much want to find out! I can see some interesting nano-mods appearing with this little gem :-)
faugusztin 11th January 2012, 12:51 Quote
Pi is nice for the price, but without case it is not that fun (except for the modders :D). There is an alternative product for 99 euros called Cubox, but that is on preorder status as well, without any date :(. On other side it has better specs (1GB RAM, eSATA port, infrared, comes with "case") :
http://www.solid-run.com/products/cubox
Uno1_ 11th January 2012, 13:06 Quote
Before anyone asks, it will NOT run Crysis...
coolius 11th January 2012, 13:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uno1_
Before anyone asks, it will NOT run Crysis...

But it will run Quake 3!

http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/106
Spreadie 11th January 2012, 13:12 Quote
Board #2 is already up to £2100 on fleabay, with around 10 hours to go.
Bauul 11th January 2012, 13:53 Quote
I can see this becoming popular as a secondary module inside a bigger case-mod for powering seperate components (like a secondary screen in the case or a miniture stand-by system).

With the latest announcements regarding Computer Science in the national curriculum, I can percieve something like this becoming a practical tool for schools.
Centy-face 11th January 2012, 13:55 Quote
So what are the chances of actually being able to pick one of these up at the supposed 20-30 quid price any time soon. I'd love to have one of these to play with.
RedFlames 11th January 2012, 13:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Centy-face
So what are the chances of actually being able to pick one of these up at the supposed 20-30 quid price any time soon. I'd love to have one of these to play with.

Unlikely and me too
steveo_mcg 11th January 2012, 14:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Centy-face
So what are the chances of actually being able to pick one of these up at the supposed 20-30 quid price any time soon. I'd love to have one of these to play with.

Should be pretty good once production ramps up, the first batch looks pretty well spoken for though there is no pre-orders so your chances are as good as any.
GravitySmacked 11th January 2012, 14:33 Quote
I can't wait to get my hands on one.
Risky 11th January 2012, 14:46 Quote
I'm keen and could live without the case (a trip to maplin should find something) but it's a shame they haven't left any mountion points for standoffs on the pcb.
Risky 11th January 2012, 14:49 Quote
Regarding the tax situation, stunningly dumb that we tax components which we're not really going to manufacturing here but tax free on the product which we might well.
goldstar0011 11th January 2012, 15:20 Quote
Definatley want one for XBMC, can you imagine peoples reactions when you show a 1080p film running on a credit card!!
Paradigm Shifter 11th January 2012, 15:31 Quote
I'll probably get a few of these once they become a little more easily available, if possible. Looks like it could be a lot of fun. :)
Sheiken 11th January 2012, 16:36 Quote
I need one of these
slipperyskip 11th January 2012, 16:55 Quote
Lately I've been getting a lot of web traffic from their forums discussing possible case designs. I mean a lot of traffic so there must be some significant interest in this little device. It's got my gears turning.
jcb121 11th January 2012, 17:48 Quote
I'm so buying a B model,
KidMod-Southpaw 11th January 2012, 18:21 Quote
I'll be getting a few, been waiting for ages.
I'll also be doing a case mod for one.
Risky 11th January 2012, 18:34 Quote
There's wiki here which has some useful info http://elinux.org/RaspberryPiBoard
schmidtbag 11th January 2012, 22:38 Quote
bit-tech, i know you like anything that focuses on the UK, but raspberry pi a product for educational purposes EVERYWHERE, not just the UK. that's why they refer to the price in USD, not GBP. The developers for rp are from the UK and the charity money from it goes to UK schools.
enciem 11th January 2012, 22:49 Quote
Can't wait to see the first watercooled version, great with wee tubes and a tiny pump. Doesn't need it but what the hell ;)
dark_avenger 11th January 2012, 23:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolius
Can't wait to get one of these - I hear an XBMC port is very close already!

My first thought as well, will be getting on to try this and another to play with :)
talladega 12th January 2012, 01:42 Quote
this looks interesting. Might make a good music player
Spuzzell 12th January 2012, 02:00 Quote
If this could run Onlive/Gaikai.. do they run on LINUX yet?

Man. 720p media playback, the latest gaming titles, a full browser.. and all in a tiny form factor for £35. Is it just me or is this a game changer?
Marvin-HHGTTG 12th January 2012, 02:09 Quote
Will be purchasing one of these for a low power system to use as a home server, plus media player. Can't wait...
SpAceman 12th January 2012, 05:49 Quote
I want one. Not sure what I will do with it. Yet. Maybe make a case out of an egg carton or something. For teh lols.
faugusztin 12th January 2012, 09:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spuzzell
If this could run Onlive/Gaikai.. do they run on LINUX yet?

Man. 720p media playback, the latest gaming titles, a full browser.. and all in a tiny form factor for £35. Is it just me or is this a game changer?

Linux yes, but it's the ARM version. So it needs ARM version of the apps. Check the forums, there is a list of supported Linux distros (Ubuntu is not supported).

XBMC works :
iKhnoQMwjmQ
xela333 13th January 2012, 13:55 Quote
Thinking of modding it into at Patriot Box Office, great looking little case and I can hopefully mode its current power supply to power this.
Risky 13th January 2012, 14:29 Quote
Looking at the photo in this article http://www.reghardware.com/2012/01/13/raspberry_pi_foundation_rolls_out_linux_based_pcs/ it does have mounting points so gettign it into a case should be easy.
talladega 13th January 2012, 19:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Risky
Looking at the photo in this article http://www.reghardware.com/2012/01/13/raspberry_pi_foundation_rolls_out_linux_based_pcs/ it does have mounting points so gettign it into a case should be easy.
no it doesn't
KidMod-Southpaw 13th January 2012, 20:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by talladega
no it doesn't

Yes it does, very small ones in the centre.
jezmck 13th January 2012, 20:06 Quote
KidMod's right:

http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/464
Quote:
Raspberry Pi beta board, back view. Click to enlarge. (Note that the SD card reader hasn't been soldered into place yet on this one!)
steveo_mcg 14th January 2012, 00:00 Quote
talladega is right those holes are mounting points for through hole components.
Risky 14th January 2012, 10:08 Quote
Someone has started an e-petition about these dumb import duty rules. Sign up now:
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/27158
jezmck 14th January 2012, 12:15 Quote
confusis has made a SketchUp model of the RaspberryPi (Model B):
http://scc.jezmckean.com/item/581
Nexxo 14th January 2012, 12:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by faugusztin
Linux yes, but it's the ARM version. So it needs ARM version of the apps. Check the forums, there is a list of supported Linux distros (Ubuntu is not supported).

XBMC works :
iKhnoQMwjmQ

No. Wai.
GeorgeStorm 14th January 2012, 13:05 Quote
This looks really interesting, although will it be able to cope with 1080p playback? (someone earlier stated it would, which surprises me)

Regardless would be an excellent basis for the pc connected to the projector at home, which is only 720p anyways...
Gareth Halfacree 14th January 2012, 14:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeStorm
This looks really interesting, although will it be able to cope with 1080p playback? (someone earlier stated it would, which surprises me.)

The Broadcom SoC at the device's heart had hardware decode capabilities - I've actually watched one play back 1080p h.264 in the 'flesh,' so I can guarantee that it copes just fine.
equinox 15th January 2012, 11:17 Quote
I wonder how much #3142 will go for...
tristanperry 15th January 2012, 11:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeStorm
This looks really interesting, although will it be able to cope with 1080p playback? (someone earlier stated it would, which surprises me)

Regardless would be an excellent basis for the pc connected to the projector at home, which is only 720p anyways...
Yep, apparently the Quake 3 demo was on 1080p. Crazy if so.
Nexxo 15th January 2012, 12:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tristanperry
Yep, apparently the Quake 3 demo was on 1080p. Crazy if so.

There is a video on YouTube. Looks pretty smooth.

The kicker is that a similar performance in 1999 took a £800,-- gaming rig (remember those heady days of Pentium II's and the GeForce 256?). Now it takes a credit-card size PC costing about £20,--!
RedFlames 15th January 2012, 12:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
There is a video on YouTube. Looks pretty smooth.

The kicker is that a similar performance in 1999 took a £800,-- gaming rig (remember those heady days of Pentium II's and the GeForce 256?). Now it takes a credit-card size PC costing about £20,--!

I remember looking at my very first PC, a Pentium 100MHz, not long before it died thinking 'this was as good as it got when it was new... now i can buy a phone that's more powerful than this...'
tristanperry 15th January 2012, 14:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
There is a video on YouTube. Looks pretty smooth.

The kicker is that a similar performance in 1999 took a £800,-- gaming rig (remember those heady days of Pentium II's and the GeForce 256?). Now it takes a credit-card size PC costing about £20,--!
Indeed, it's pretty awesome how things have come on :)
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