A recent subject called into question by the Department of Education is, the practicality of current ICT education in schools – in particular, computer programming. Yesterday saw the release of a product that aims to address this imbalance.
A computer the size of a credit card?
The Raspberry Pi is a very-low cost, low-power bare bones ‘computer-on-a-board’, designed as an entry-level platform, perfect for coding in schools.
The current version (model ‘B’) features:
- an ARM 700 MHz CPU
- 256 MB RAM
- a VideoCore 4 GPU
- an Ethernet port
- 2 USB ports
- HDMI and RCA Video outputs
- a SD Card slot
All for the low cost of £22!
Later this year the model ‘A’ version should be released and is expected to be priced at around £16, with the half the amount of RAM, just one USB port and the LAN port removed.
These small computers can use any standard USB PC keyboard, mouse and HDMI display (or even an old TV using the RCA Video port). They do not include any Hard Drives or SSDs or other forms of permanent storage, instead relying on the SD Card to host an OS and any application files.
As you’d expect, the low-end specs mean you won’t be running Lion or Windows 7 anytime soon, but the units are designed to run a smaller version of Linux. A great example is a proof of concept image on an SD card, produced by Raspberry Pi, that was based upon Debian 6.0 (squeeze), with LXDE desktop and the Midori browser.
This project has been the brainchild of the Raspberry Pi foundation, a not-for-profit foundation, created primarily to create devices such as this.
Unfortunately, due to some tough money-based decisions, they have been forced to license the design out instead of producing it for themselves, but for every unit sold, they gain more funds to pursue further developments and advancements.
Having left school 7 years ago, I never quite got the chance to take a ‘proper’ ICT course (at either GCSE, or A-Level) but I have had the chance to read some course materials, all of which were severely lacking in all but the basic computing knowledge.
Something like the Raspberry Pi could help a return of the garage computer builders and coders, and further help the UK’s computing industry.
I can say I’m very eager to get one myself, but I highly suspect they’ll be sold out in short order!
The Raspberry Pi units are current distributed through RS Components and Element 14 in the UK.
Makersure that you check out the BBC’s video demonstration!