The Raspberry Pi Foundation has launched a new model of microcomputer, costing just £4 - cheap enough to be cover-mounted on the MagPi Magazine, a world-first.
When the Raspberry Pi launched, demand for the sub-£30 microcomputer took major websites offline for much of the day. While its single-core ARMv6 processor was already outdated, the promise of a fully-functional - if somewhat slow - computer the size of a credit card for so little money was alluring. Numerous revisions have launched in the years since including the cheaper Model A and faster ARMv7 quad-core Raspberry Pi 2, but today's launch is arguably the most exciting: the first Raspberry Pi to cost under £5.
Dubbed the Raspberry Pi Zero, the new model is based on the Model A+. There's the same Broadcom BCM2835 single-core system-on-chip (SoC) processor, albeit clocked at 1GHz by default rather than the usual 700MHz, beneath a 512MB memory module - the same quantity as found on the Model B+. The full-size ports, though, are gone: instead, you'll find a micro-USB power port, another micro-USB port for data, a mini-HDMI, and the usual micro-SD slot for storage. There's a full-size GPIO header, albeit one which arrives unpopulated, but little else: the CSI and DSI connectors, for cameras and flat-panel displays respectively, have been scrapped, while the composite video output is relegated to unpopulated solder points on the board.
Cutting down the parts has had two effects on the Pi Zero: it has reduced the size considerably, from something that would just about squeeze into an Altoids mint tin to something that fits with room to spare in a far smaller Smint tin; it has also dropped the cost, to the point where launch partners are offering the device for just £4 including VAT.
Impressively, the Foundation is also giving the device away. 10,000 copies of The MagPi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine, have been bundled with a cover-mounted Pi Zero and are available in high-street shops today, as well as from the official Raspberry Pi website for £5.99 - the first time in history a fully-functional computer has been cover-mounted on a print magazine. The magazine includes numerous tutorials and projects on using the device.
The Foundation has not yet announced how many Pi Zero units have been manufactured in total, but retailers are limiting purchases to one per customer - suggesting that supplies are limited.