LONDON – Raspberry Pi, the credit card-sized single-board computer developed in Cambridge, England, by the not-for-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation is going to be manufactured in the U.K.
Premier Farnell, one of the distribution companies that sells the board, has agreed to a deal that will see Sony UK Technology Center (Pencoed, Wales), make an initial run of 300,000 units.
The Raspberry Pi was developed partly as means of encouraging
programming skills among young people by providing a low-cost but
capable computer that could be plugged into a TV screen. The boards sell for a price of $25 or $35, plus local taxes, depending on the unit specifications. They have been on sale from Premier Farnell since February 2012 but to date the boards have only been manufactured in China.
"By bringing the production of a U.K. product back into the country alongside its development and distribution, we can help support our economy and demonstrate the capabilities the U.K. has in terms of technological innovation, invention, and manufacturing," Eben Upton, co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, said in a statement issued by Premier Farnell.
For Raspberry Pi assembly, Sony is going to use a manufacturing technique called package-on-package to allow the ARM-based processor and memory to be stacked on top of each other, reducing the pc-board footprint. This could also have advantages in using the on-chip graphics processor, believed to be a Videocore unit, a legacy of Broadcom's acquisition of Cambridge-based Alphamosaic Ltd. in 2004.
Interestingly, Raspberry Pi Foundation has stated that Broadcom does not provide a full datasheet for the BCM2835 integrated circuit that is the ARM-based system-chip at the heart of the board. Apparently Broadcom only provides the datasheet for such chips to people prepared to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
"To get the full SoC documentation you would need to sign an NDA with Broadcom, who make the chip and sell it to us. But you would also need to provide a business model and estimate of how many chips you are going to sell," is a quote from Raspberry Pi Foundation's frequently asked questions section.
RasPi is a terrific GNU/Linux platform for the price, with a strong developer community. However, GNU/Linux is in many ways a mainframe operating system and programming down at the bare metal can be challenging, especially since the BCM2835 documentation is limited.
For bare-metal real-time development, here are a couple of interesting new boards to be available later this month:
Texas Instruments Stellaris® LM4F120 LaunchPad Evaluation Board (http://www.ti.com/tool/ek-lm4f120xl) with a promotional price of US$4.99. The processor is an 80 MHz Cortex-M4F with DSP instructions, FLOATING POINT, 256KB Flash, and 32KB SRAM.
Freescale Freedoom Kinetis KL25Z development board (http://www.element14.com/community/community/knode/dev_platforms_kits/element14_dev_kits/kinetis_kl2_freedom_board) for US$12.95 with 48 MHz Cortex-M0+, 128KB Flash, and 16KB SRAM.
Let me try those links again. The parentheses created confusion.
Why spending time in something that you cannot purchase to put in your product ?
This is vaporware.
Try Linux Stamp ( http://www.thelinuxstamp.com/ )
Use Atmel, you can purchase the chips right in the corner;
Datasheets ? Get full datasheets at atmel.com.
Surely if you want to got smaller embedded, there is Arduino.
The key thing about Raspberry Pi is its accessibility for students. The easy ability to control arbitrary hardware - my son wants to use it to control his radio controlled car, my daughter for wearable electronics.
But the key difference to mbed is the open source ecosystem. mbed is great, and well supported, but you use it within ARM's development environment. For education you need to be able to explore and that is what the Raspberry Pi's ecosystem gives you.
Also the ST Discovery (CortexM0 for $8 and CortexM4 for $14) and NXP mbed ($$). BTW, I am curious what will be the post-promotion price for Stellaris Launchpad..
Having said that, Cortex M does not use virtual memory so it doesn't run "proper" memory protected OSes like Linux (I don't know if someone tried uClinux on them). The M series is great for a tight hardware/bare metal loop, but if advanced protocol stacks are involved (network, USB, codecs, vision, multiprocessing, etc), I would miss the rich, standard programming environment of an established system like Linux.
But I am not sure limiting the information available (datasheet as secret document) is in the same spirit as open exploration.
As you may be able to tell the disappearance of freely available datasheets from the engineering environment is a pet peeve of mine. Broadcom is not alone in this.
I'm with you on the limits to the Raspberry Pi's openness. I think Broadcom have made a big PR and business mistake in this.
However most of the software is open, and the board schematics are available. For practical purposes, the system as experienced by students is open for exploration, in a way that mbed (which is still a prototyping and educational system I admire) is not.
Broadcom may naively be hoping that they can corner the market. However RaspberryPi is ultimately defined by its user interfaces, both hardware and software. If it is half as successful as we hope, then there will be plenty of others out there offering clones, with identical interfaces. It happened with Arduino, and Raspberry Pi is already far bigger.
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.