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.