British game developer David Braben and like-minded collaborators have come together to form a nonprofit called Raspberry Pi which is devoted to promoting computer science education, particularly among younger students. Their proposed vehicle for accomplishing this, also called Raspberry Pi, is something of a small marvel: A $25 computer the size of a USB stick. With a USB port on one end and an HDMI/composite video connection at the other, the tiny PC comes equipped with 128 MB of SDRAM and a 700 MHz ARM processor — not the heighth of speed, but faster than, say, the original iPhone processor.
In the interest of keeping costs down while furthering education, Raspberry Pi comes preloaded with the Ubuntu operating system and free open software like Iceweasel, KOffice, and Python. Of course, there’s not much one can do with a PC this barebones by itself: It requires either a touchscreen or a monitor/keyboard combo to plug into, though on the assumption that many families have TVs but not computers, this isn’t as insurmountable a cost hurdle as it might be. The onus remains on Braben and associates to prove to educators that this can be mass-produced as cheaply as they say it can and that it has value in a classroom setting, but it could present exciting possibilities for ensuring that young students in school districts that can’t necessarily afford state-of-the-art computer wings still have access to CS education.
- 700MHz ARM11
- 128MB of SDRAM
- OpenGL ES 2.0
- 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode
- Composite and HDMI video output
- USB 2.0
- SD/MMC/SDIO memory card slot
- General-purpose I/O
- Open software (Ubuntu, Iceweasel, KOffice, Python)
In the video below, Braben demos it to the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones: