The new Raspberry Pi microcomputer from the United Kingdom, a small, cheap unit designed for kids and amateurs to use as an introduction into computer hardware and software, has just passed 5 million units in sales.
The initial goal for the Raspberry Pi Foundation was to sell a “few thousand” of the devices over its entire lifespan, according to creator Eben Upton.
The two models are available at low costs, with the Model B selling for $35 and Model A selling for only $25. That price point is making the devices popular for being used to create everything from robotics projects to do-it-yourself computers. Startup companies have also found a use for the computers, which are about the size of a credit card.
Originally, the Pi was created with the intention of getting more schoolchildren in the UK interested in coding. While progress is still being made there, the microcomputers are becoming increasingly popular elsewhere, especially within North America. As a result, the company has recently released the Pi 2, said to be about 6 times faster and double the memory, but still keeping the $35 price, writes Natasha Lomas for TechCrunch.
The Pi 2 made two significant changes to the devices while keeping all other components unchanged. Instead of being single-core, the central processing unit (CPU) is now quad-core, meaning it can be programmed to more cores to increase its computing power or reserve them in an effort to save energy consumption. In addition, the board now offers twice the amount of random access memory (RAM) than before, at one gigabyte, reports Leo Kelion for BBC.
Users will still need their own keyboards, a MicroSD card with a copy of the operating system on it, and television/monitor-connecting cables in order to start programming.
“You can do most of the things with this that you can do with a PC. You can surf the web, you can watch videos, you can play games like Minecraft. But we also bundle it with the tools that children need in order to learn how to program,” said Upton.
With the Pi 2 making entry level PCs even cheaper, it is not surprising Microsoft is planning to offer Windows 10 to Pi devices free of charge.
As of the beginning of the month, overall sales for the devices were around $4.5 million, with first-generation Pi devices accounting for about 200,000 sales each month.
According to a tweet from Raspberry Pi:
“We think that this means that in just under 3 years, we’ve gone from zero to being the biggest selling UK computer manufacturer ever. Yowza.”
The Pi is currently facing competition from a number of companies, including he Arduino, Intel Galileo, Gizmo 2, BeagleBone Black and Hummingboard. In addition, the UK-based Imagination recently released its own bare bones computer.