The Raspberry Pi is manufactured in four board configurations through licensed manufacturing agreements with Newark element14 (Premier Farnell), RS Components and Egoman. These companies sell the Raspberry Pi online. Egoman produces a version for distribution solely in China and Taiwan, which can be distinguished from other Pis by their red coloring and lack of FCC/CE marks. The hardware is the same across all manufacturers.
In 2014, the Raspberry Pi Foundation launched the Compute Module, which packages a Raspberry Pi Model B into module for use as a part of embedded systems, to encourage their use.
Location on the PCB of connectors and major ICs of original Raspberry PI B
Block diagram of the Model-A, B, A+ and B+; in a Model-A and A+ the lowest two blocks and the rightmost block are missing (note that these three blocks are in a chip that actually contains a three-port USB hub, with a USB Ethernet adapter connected to one of its ports). In the Model-A and A+ the USB port is connected directly to the SoC. On the model B+ the chip contains a five point hub, with four USB ports fed out, instead of the two of the B.
Level 2 cache is 128 KB, used primarily by the GPU, not the CPU.
The BroadcomSoC used in the Raspberry Pi is equivalent to a chip used in an old smartphone (Android or iPhone). While operating at 700 MHz by default, the Raspberry Pi provides a real world performance roughly equivalent to 0.041 GFLOPS. On the CPU level the performance is similar to a 300 MHz Pentium II of 1997-1999. The GPU provides 1 Gpixel/s or 1.5 Gtexel/s of graphics processing or 24 GFLOPS of general purpose computing performance. The graphics capabilities of the Raspberry Pi are roughly equivalent to the level of performance of the Xbox of 2001. The Raspberry Pi chip, operating at 700 MHz by default, will not become hot enough to need a heatsink or special cooling. The SoC is stacked underneath the RAM chip, so only its edge is visible.
Most Raspberry Pi devices can be overclocked to 800 MHz and some even higher to 1000 MHz. In the RaspbianLinux distro the overclocking options on boot can be done by a software command running "sudo raspi-config" without voiding the warranty, see note 9 below. In those cases the Pi automatically shuttles the overclocking down in case the chip reaches 85 °C (185 °F), but it is possible to overrule automatic over voltage and overclocking settings (voiding the warranty). In that case, one can try putting an appropriately sized heatsink on it to keep the chip from heating up far above 85 °C.
Newer versions of the firmware contain the option to choose between five overclock ("turbo") presets that when turned on try to get the most performance out of the SoC without impairing the lifetime of the Pi. This is done by monitoring the core temperature of the chip, and the CPU load, and dynamically adjusting clock speeds and the core voltage. When the demand is low on the CPU, or it is running too hot, the performance is throttled, but if the CPU has much to do, and the chip's temperature is acceptable, performance is temporarily increased, with clock speeds of up to 1 GHz, depending on the individual board, and on which of the turbo settings is used. The five settings are:
In the highest (turbo) preset the SDRAM clock was originally 500 MHz, but this was later changed to 600 MHz because 500 MHz sometimes causes SD card corruption. Simultaneously in high mode the core clock speed was lowered from 450 to 250 MHz, and in medium mode from 333 to 250 MHz.
On the older beta model B boards, 128 MB was allocated by default to the GPU, leaving 128 MB for the CPU. On the first 256 MB release model B (and Model A), three different splits were possible. The default split was 192 MB (CPU RAM), which should be sufficient for standalone 1080p video decoding, or for simple 3D, but probably not for both together. 224 MB was for Linux only, with just a 1080p framebuffer, and was likely to fail for any video or 3D. 128 MB was for heavy 3D, possibly also with video decoding (e.g. XBMC). Comparatively the Nokia 701 uses 128 MB for the Broadcom VideoCore IV. For the new model B with 512 MB RAM initially there were new standard memory split files released( arm256_start.elf, arm384_start.elf, arm496_start.elf) for 256 MB, 384 MB and 496 MB CPU RAM (and 256 MB, 128 MB and 16 MB video RAM). But a week or so later the RPF released a new version of start.elf that could read a new entry in config.txt (gpu_mem=xx) and could dynamically assign an amount of RAM (from 16 to 256 MB in 8 MB steps) to the GPU, so the older method of memory splits became obsolete, and a single start.elf worked the same for 256 and 512 MB Pis.
Though the Model A and A+ do not have an 8P8C ("RJ45") Ethernet port, it can connect to a network by using an external user-supplied USB Ethernet or Wi-Fi adapter. On the model B the Ethernet port is provided by a built-in USB Ethernet adapter.
Camera – On 14 May 2013, the foundation and the distributors RS Components & Premier Farnell/Element 14 launched the Raspberry Pi camera board with a firmware update to accommodate it. The camera board is shipped with a flexible flat cable that plugs into the CSI connector located between the Ethernet and HDMI ports. In Raspbian, one enables the system to use the camera board by the installing or upgrading to the latest version of the OS and then running Raspi-config and selecting the camera option. The cost of the camera module is 20 EUR in Europe (9 September 2013). It can produce 1080p, 720p, 640x480p video. The footprint dimensions are 25 mm x 20 mm x 9 mm.
Gertboard – A Raspberry Pi Foundation sanctioned device designed for educational purposes, and expands the Raspberry Pi's GPIO pins to allow interface with and control of LEDs, switches, analog signals, sensors and other devices. It also includes an optional Arduino compatible controller to interface with the Pi.
Infrared Camera – in October 2013, the foundation announced that they would begin producing a camera module without an infrared filter, called the Pi NoIR.
HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) expansion boards – Together with the model B+, inspired by the Arduino shield boards, were devised by the Raspberry PI Foundation. Each HAT board carries a small EEPROM (typically a CAT24C32WI-GT3) containing the relevant details of the board, so that the Raspberry PI's OS is informed of the HAT, and the technical details of it, relevant to the OS using the HAT. Mechanical details of a HAT board, that use the four mounting holes in their rectangular formation, are here: . More info here: .
The ARM11 chip at the heart of the Pi is based on version 6 of the ARM. The current releases of several popular versions of Linux, including Ubuntu., will not run on the ARM11. It is not possible to run Windows on the Raspberry Pi.
The install manager for the Raspberry Pi is NOOBS. The OSs included with NOOBS are:
RISC OS – The operating system of the first ARM-based computer
Raspbian (recommended) – Maintained independently of the Foundation; based on the ARM hard-float (armhf) Debian 7 'Wheezy' architecture port originally designed for ARMv7 and later processors (with Jazelle RCT/ThumbEE, VFPv3, and NEON SIMD extensions), compiled for the more limited ARMv6 instruction set of the Raspberry Pi. A minimum size of 4 GB SD card is required. There is a Pi Store for exchanging programs.
The Raspbian Server Edition is a stripped version with other software packages bundled as compared to the usual desktop computer oriented Raspbian.
Moebius – A light ARM HF distribution based on Debian. It uses Raspbian repository, but it fits in a 1 GB SD card. It has just minimal services and its memory usage is optimized to keep a small footprint.
OpenWrt – Primarily used on embedded devices to route network traffic.
Kali Linux – A Debian-derived distro designed for digital forensics and penetration testing.
Instant WebKiosk – An operating system for digital signage purposes (web and media views)
Raspberry Pi can use a VideoCore IV GPU via a binary blob, which is loaded into the GPU at boot time from the SD-card, and additional software, that initially was closed source. This part of the driver code was later released, however much of the actual driver work is done using the closed source GPU code. Application software uses calls to closed source run-time libraries (OpenMax, OpenGL ES or OpenVG) which in turn calls an open source driver inside the Linux kernel, which then calls the closed source Videocore IV GPU driver code. The API of the kernel driver is specific for these closed libraries. Video applications use OpenMAX, 3D applications use OpenGL ES and 2D applications use OpenVG which both in turn use EGL. OpenMAX and EGL use the open source kernel driver in turn.
Third party application software
Mathematica – Since 21 November 2013, Raspbian includes a full installation of this proprietary software for free. As of 1 August 2014 the version is Mathematica 10.
Minecraft – Released 11 February 2013; a version for the Raspberry Pi, in which you can modify the game world with code.
Reception and use
Technology writer Glyn Moody described the project in May 2011 as a "potential BBC Micro 2.0", not by replacing PC compatible machines but by supplementing them. In March 2012 Stephen Pritchard echoed the BBC Micro successor sentiment in ITPRO. Alex Hope, co-author of the Next Gen report, is hopeful that the computer will engage children with the excitement of programming. Co-author Ian Livingstone suggested that the BBC could be involved in building support for the device, possibly branding it as the BBC Nano. Chris Williams, writing in The Register sees the inclusion of programming languages such as Kids Ruby, Scratch and BASIC as a "good start" to equip kids with the skills needed in the future – although it remains to be seen how effective their use will be.The Centre for Computing History strongly supports the Raspberry Pi project, feeling that it could "usher in a new era". Before release, the board was showcased by ARM's CEO Warren East at an event in Cambridge outlining Google's ideas to improve UK science and technology education.
Harry Fairhead, however, suggests that more emphasis should be put on improving the educational software available on existing hardware, using tools such as Google App Inventor to return programming to schools, rather than adding new hardware choices. Simon Rockman, writing in a ZDNet blog, was of the opinion that teens will have "better things to do", despite what happened in the 1980s.
In October 2012, the Raspberry Pi won T3's Innovation of the Year award, and futurist Mark Pesce cited a (borrowed) Raspberry Pi as the inspiration for his ambient device project MooresCloud. In October 2012, the British Computer Society reacted to the announcement of enhanced specifications by stating, "it's definitely something we'll want to sink our teeth into."
As of January 2012[update], enquiries about the board in the United Kingdom have been received from schools in both the state and private sectors, with around five times as much interest from the latter. It is hoped that businesses will sponsor purchases for less advantaged schools. The CEO of Premier Farnell said that the government of a country in the Middle East has expressed interest in providing a board to every schoolgirl, in order to enhance her employment prospects.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation and Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations launched a beta of the Cambridge GCSE Computing Online course or MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) based around the current GCSE Computing syllabus. The MOOC will consist of videos, animations and interactive tasks on every part of the curriculum presented by UK teachers. The beta is currently presented by Clive Beale who is the Head of Educational Development. All tasks will be supported by written materials and audio and text transcripts available for disabled students. The first MOOC will be linked to a formal GCSE qualification.
Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations also provide resources to use with a Raspberry Pi for teachers who would like to use the device in their lessons including Getting started, Singing Jelly Baby and other features about the Raspberry Pi.
An early alpha-test board in operation using different layout from later beta and production boards
In 2006, early concepts of the Raspberry Pi were based on the AtmelATmega644 microcontroller. Its schematics and PCB layout are publicly available. Foundation trusteeEben Upton assembled a group of teachers, academics and computer enthusiasts to devise a computer to inspire children. The computer is inspired by Acorn's BBC Micro of 1981. Model A, Model B and Model B+ are references to the original models of the British educational BBC Micro computer, developed by Acorn Computers. The first ARM prototype version of the computer was mounted in a package the same size as a USB memory stick. It had a USB port on one end and an HDMI port on the other.
The Foundation's goal was to offer two versions, priced at US$25 and US$35. They started accepting orders for the higher priced model B on 29 February 2012, the lower cost model A on 4 February 2013. and the even lower cost (US$20) A+ on 10 November 2014.
July 2011 (2011-07) – Trustee Eben Upton publicly approached the RISC OS Open community in July 2011 to enquire about assistance with a port. Adrian Lees at Broadcom has since worked on the port, with his work being cited in a discussion regarding the graphics drivers. This port is now included in NOOBS.
August 2011 – 50 alpha boards are manufactured. These boards were functionally identical to the planned model B, but they were physically larger to accommodate debug headers. Demonstrations of the board showed it running the LXDE desktop on Debian, Quake 3 at 1080p, and Full HDMPEG-4 video over HDMI.
October 2011 – A version of RISC OS 5 was demonstrated in public, and following a year of development the port was released for general consumption in November 2012.
December 2011 – Twenty-five model B Beta boards were assembled and tested from one hundred unpopulated PCBs. The component layout of the Beta boards was the same as on production boards. A single error was discovered in the board design where some pins on the CPU were not held high; it was fixed for the first production run. The Beta boards were demonstrated booting Linux, playing a 1080p movie trailer and the Rightware Samurai OpenGL ES benchmark.
Early 2012 – During the first week of the year, the first 10 boards were put up for auction on eBay. One was bought anonymously and donated to the museum at The Centre for Computing History in Suffolk, England. The ten boards (with a total retail price of £220) together raised over £16,000, with the last to be auctioned, serial number No. 01, raising £3,500. In advance of the anticipated launch at the end of February 2012, the Foundation's servers struggled to cope with the load placed by watchers repeatedly refreshing their browsers.
Raspberry Pi Model A
19 February 2012 – The first proof of concept SD card image that could be loaded onto an SD card to produce a preliminary operating system is released. The image was based on Debian 6.0 (Squeeze), with the LXDE desktop and the Midori browser, plus various programming tools. The image also runs on QEMU allowing the Raspberry Pi to be emulated on various other platforms.
29 February 2012 – Initial sales commence 29 February 2012 at 06:00 UTC;. At the same time, it was announced that the Model A, originally to have had 128 MB of RAM, was to be upgraded to 256 MB before release. The Foundation's website also announced: "Six years after the project's inception, we're nearly at the end of our first run of development – although it's just the beginning of the Raspberry Pi story." The web-shops of the two licensed manufacturers selling Raspberry Pi's within the United Kingdom, Premier Farnell and RS Components, had their websites stalled by heavy web traffic immediately after the launch (RS Components briefly going down completely). Unconfirmed reports suggested that there were over two million expressions of interest or pre-orders. The official Raspberry Pi Twitter account reported that Premier Farnell sold out within a few minutes of the initial launch, while RS Components took over 100,000 pre orders on day one. Manufacturers were reported in March 2012 to be taking a "healthy number" of pre-orders.
March 2012 – Shipping delays for the first batch were announced in March 2012, as the result of installation of an incorrect Ethernet port, but the Foundation expected that manufacturing quantities of future batches could be increased with little difficulty if required. "We have ensured we can get them [the Ethernet connectors with magnetics] in large numbers and Premier Farnell and RS Components [the two distributors] have been fantastic at helping to source components," Upton said. The first batch of 10,000 boards was manufactured in Taiwan and China.
8 March 2012 – Release Raspberry Pi Fedora Remix, the recommended Linux distribution, developed at Seneca College in Canada.
March 2012 – The Debian port is initiated by Mike Thompson, former CTO of Atomz. The effort was largely carried out by Thompson and Peter Green, a volunteer Debian developer, with some support from the Foundation, who tested the resulting binaries that the two produced during the early stages (neither Thompson nor Green had physical access to the hardware, as boards were not widely accessible at the time due to demand). While the preliminary proof of concept image distributed by the Foundation before launch was also Debian-based, it differed from Thompson and Green's Raspbian effort in a couple of ways. The POC image was based on then-stableDebian Squeeze, while Raspbian aimed to track then-upcoming Debian Wheezy packages. Aside from the updated packages that would come with the new release, Wheezy was also set to introduce the armhf architecture, which became the raison d'être for the Raspbian effort. The Squeeze-based POC image was limited to the armel architecture, which was, at the time of Squeeze's release, the latest attempt by the Debian project to have Debian run on the newest ARM EABI. The armhf architecture in Wheezy intended to make Debian run on the ARM VFP hardware floating-point unit, while armel was limited to emulating floating point operations in software. Since the Raspberry Pi included a VFP, being able to make use of the hardware unit would result in performance gains and reduced power usage for floating point operations. The armhf effort in mainline Debian, however, was orthogonal to the work surrounding the Pi and only intended to allow Debian to run on ARMv7 at a minimum, which would mean the Pi, an ARMv6k device, would not benefit. As a result, Thompson and Green set out to build the 19,000 Debian packages for the device using a custom buildcluster.
16 April 2012 – Reports appear from the first buyers who had received their Raspberry Pi.
20 April 2012 – The schematics for the Model A and Model B are released.
18 May 2012 – The Foundation reported on its blog about a prototype camera module they had tested. The prototype used a 14-megapixel module.
22 May 2012 – Over 20,000 units had been shipped.
16 July 2012 – It was announced that 4,000 units were being manufactured per day, allowing Raspberry Pis to be bought in bulk.
24 August 2012 – Hardware accelerated video (H.264) encoding becomes available after it became known that the existing license also covered encoding. Previously it was thought that encoding would be added with the release of the announced camera module. However, no stable software exists for hardware H.264 encoding. At the same time the Foundation released two additional codecs that can be bought separately, MPEG-2 and Microsoft's VC-1. Also it was announced that the Pi will implement CEC, enabling it to be controlled with the television's remote control.
5 September 2012 – The Foundation announced a second revision of the Raspberry Pi Model B. A revision 2.0 board is announced, with a number of minor corrections and improvements.
6 September 2012 – Announcement that in future the bulk of Raspberry Pi units would be manufactured in the UK, at Sony's manufacturing facility in Pencoed, Wales. The Foundation estimated that the plant would produce 30,000 units per month, and would create about 30 new jobs.
15 October 2012 – It is announced that new Raspberry Pi Model Bs are to be fitted with 512 MB instead of 256 MB RAM.
24 October 2012 – The Foundation announces that "all of the VideoCore driver code which runs on the ARM" had been released as free software under a BSD-style license, making it "the first ARM-based multimedia SoC with fully-functional, vendor-provided (as opposed to partial, reverse engineered) fully open-source drivers", although this claim has not been universally accepted. On 28 February 2014, they also announced the release of full documentation for the VideoCore IV graphics core, and a complete source release of the graphics stack under a 3-clause BSD license
October 2012 – It was reported that some customers of one of the two main distributors had been waiting more than six months for their orders. This was reported to be due to difficulties in sourcing the CPU and conservative sales forecasting by this distributor.
17 December 2012 – The Foundation, in collaboration with IndieCity and Velocix, opens the Pi Store, as a "one-stop shop for all your Raspberry Pi (software) needs". Using an application included in Raspbian, users can browse through several categories and download what they want. Software can also be uploaded for moderation and release.
3 June 2013 – 'New Out Of Box Software or NOOBS is introduced. This makes the Raspberry Pi easier to use by simplifying the installation of an operating system. Instead of using specific software to prepare an SD card, a file is unzipped and the contents copied over to a FAT formatted (4 GB or bigger) SD card. That card can then be booted on the Raspberry Pi and a choice of six operating systems is presented for installation on the card. The system also contains a recovery partition that allows for the quick restoration of the installed OS, tools to modify the config.txt and an online help button and web browser which directs to the Raspberry Pi Forums.
October 2013 – The Foundation announces that the one millionth Pi had been manufactured in the United Kingdom.
November 2013: they announce that the two millionth Pi shipped between 24 and 31 October.
28 February 2014 – On the day of the second anniversary of the Raspberry Pi, Broadcom, together with the Raspberry PI foundation, announced the release of full documentation for the VideoCore IV graphics core[clarification needed], and a complete source release of the graphics stack under a 3-clause BSD license.
Raspberry Pi Compute Module
7 April 2014 – The official Raspberry Pi blog announced the Raspberry Pi Compute Module, a device in the form factor of a 200-pin DDR2 SO-DIMM memory module (though not in any way compatible with such RAM), intended for consumer electronics designers to use as the core of their own products.
June 2014 – The official Raspberry Pi blog mentioned that the three millionth Pi shipped in early May 2014.
14 July 2014 – The official Raspberry Pi blog announced the Raspberry Pi Model B+, "the final evolution of the original Raspberry Pi. For the same price as the original Raspberry Pi Model B, but incorporating numerous small improvements people have been asking for".
10 November 2014 – The official Raspberry Pi blog announced the Raspberry Pi Model A+. It is the smallest and cheapest (US$20) Raspberry Pi so far and has the same processor and RAM as the Model A and like the A it has no ethernet port, and just one USB port, but does have the other innovations of the B+, like lower power, micro-SD-card slot, and 40 pins HAT compatible GPIO.
^Rockman, Simon (21 February 2012). "Is raspberry pi a mid-life crisis?". ZDNet. Retrieved 24 February 2012. Just because young teens led the way in computing in the 1980s doesn’t mean it should, will or can happen again. Those outside the tech age bubble have better things to do.