The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, but fully featured computer, approximately the size of a credit card. Despite its small size, the Model B Raspberry Pi allows connection of standard peripherals including USB keyboard and mouse, HDMI or composite video, sound, and Ethernet-based network connectivity. The addition of a properly formatted SD memory card permits the device to boot and run the chosen operating system, with the Raspbian Linux-based operating system being the most popular choice.
Its original development was inspired by a number of staff at the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory with the intention of encouraging the development of improved computer skills and experience in computing undergraduates, but with more than 1 million devices sold in its first year, it has clearly found much wider use within the hobbyist and educational communities.
Architecture and Variants
The Raspberry Pi is based around a Broadcom BCM2835,System on a Chip (SoC) processor, which incorporates all of the main components of a computer including the microprocessor, memory, Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) and input/output. The Broadcom BCM2835 SoC uses the same technology found in many modern smartphones, and also includes an ARM-based ARM1176JZF-S processor.
Two major versions of the Raspberry Pi are available, these being the more fully featured 'Model B' and the slightly cheaper but more basic 'Model A'. The Model B comes with an extra USB port (giving two in total), more memory, a built-in Ethernet controller and is only slightly more expensive, making the Model B the recommended choice for mainstream users.
Model A / Model B terminology is a cultural reference to the classic BBC Microcomputer, which was also available in a cut down Model A version.
Selected Raspberry Pi Weblinks
- Raspberry Pi Foundation – website of the community-based charitable organisation which develops and promotes the Raspberry Pi.
- Raspbian.org – developers of the Raspbian operating system used by most Raspberry Pi computers, based on the Debian Linux operating system. (In summary, Raspberry Pi + Debian = Raspbian.)