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Tiny USB-Sized PC Offers 1080p HDMI Output

By - Source: DailyTech | B 33 comments

A game designer has created a USB Stick-sized PC to help bring technology to children and third-world countries.

raspberry piraspberry piBritish game designer David Braben has created a pocket PC called Raspberry Pi for around $25 USD. The device isn't any bigger than the standard USB memory stick, and even sports an HDMI output connector on one end for displaying 1080p content on an HDTV or PC monitor. An actual USB 2.0 connector resides on the other end for connecting a USB hub and ultimately peripherals like a mouse and keyboard.

The design arrived in response to the One Laptop Per Child program and the rising prices of its laptops, initially costing $100 per unit but has since ballooned to $188 per laptop. Braben's design not only allows the child to carry the device in his/her pocket or on a keychain, it will be relatively cheap to purchase given it only cost $25 to manufacture.

The Raspberry Pi consists of a single motherboard with an HDMI port on one end and a USB port on the other. On the side it offers an SD/MMC/SDIO card reader for flash storage, and there's also an expansion port for adding additional hardware like a 12MP camera module. The actual CPU is a 700 MHz ARM11 processor with 128 MB of SDRAM. There's even an unnamed GPU capable of handling OpenGL ES 2.0. Ubuntu is the OS of choice and comes packed with open source software tools like Iceweasel, Koffice and Python.

David Braben is best known for founding game development studio Frontier Developments, the group responsible for the Rollercoaster Tycoon series, Thrillville, Lost Winds and Microsoft's recent Kinect-based hit, Kinectimals. Braben said he created the device to help push the next generation of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) gadgets, and wants to see the mini-computers packed in an educational program that teaches students the basics of hardware and software.

"Children will be able to use [the device] as a computer to learn program, to be able to run Twitter, Facebook, whatever," he said. "But also to be able to understand the whole process of programming. A lot of things have been obfuscated these days in the sense that you can't get at them. There's so much between you and doing something interesting or creative that it gets in the way. And hopefully this device will be one of the pieces that helps change that."

Braben has launched a UK-based charity called the Raspberry Pi Foundation for continued support of the device and its goals. The devices are expected the be distributed within the UK and to third-world children. However, no plans for other territories have been announced, nor has he provided a solid release date.

Raspberry Pi, the $25 PC

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Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    joytech22 , May 6, 2011 9:23 PM
    That's incredible, this man is a genius.
    I hope he releases another version with at least 512MB of RAM, 128MB would struggle to run anything on any operating system.

    If he does, I'd buy one.
  • 13 Hide
    jrharbort , May 6, 2011 9:13 PM
    This man is both a genius and a hero to come up with this kind of idea. Major kudos.
Other Comments
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , May 6, 2011 9:09 PM
    Hmm so I take it the kids in developing countries have HDTVs to hook this thing up with HDMI?
  • Display all 33 comments.
  • 13 Hide
    jrharbort , May 6, 2011 9:13 PM
    This man is both a genius and a hero to come up with this kind of idea. Major kudos.
  • 14 Hide
    joytech22 , May 6, 2011 9:23 PM
    That's incredible, this man is a genius.
    I hope he releases another version with at least 512MB of RAM, 128MB would struggle to run anything on any operating system.

    If he does, I'd buy one.
  • 0 Hide
    cbrownx88 , May 6, 2011 9:28 PM
    It must have WiFi right?
  • 1 Hide
    waynewarrior78 , May 6, 2011 9:31 PM
    To piggy back on what joytech said, this would be an awesome product to expand on. Increase the specs a tad for home use and sell it commercially. Then, he can take what profit he made from the commercial product to research and develop the lower spec one for kids/3rd world regions. All it would need to do is play 1080p video and have wifi. Perfect little device to attach to tvs in a household and have all the media devices connected.
  • 1 Hide
    jsheridan , May 6, 2011 9:43 PM
    Cool so this device will go to "third-world" children so they can access Twitter and Facebook to post things like "help me, i need medical assistance and food".
    Good idea that will help but I think there are other things that kids need first.
  • 3 Hide
    willy481 , May 6, 2011 9:44 PM
    @asnorton44 - given the tiny size of the pc, difficult to see what other TV/Monitor interface to provide ? Clearly the designer assumed the 'kids' will live in an environment where a TV or Monitor already available - and like it or not, HDMI has become the future TV/Monitor connect standard.
    If Hollywood hadn't saddled everyone with such a limiting connection, perhaps one could design a cheap 'HDMI' to Composite Adapter for those with old TVs.
    I think the design most innovative with much potential beyond the markets mentioned. With a few enhancements, could be used as cheap microcontroller, environmental monitoring/control etc.
  • 1 Hide
    fir_ser , May 6, 2011 10:25 PM
    One laptop per child has evolved to be the Netbook, so I wonder what this device will evolve to be?
  • -6 Hide
    dconnors , May 6, 2011 10:27 PM
    ...but can it play Crysis?
  • 3 Hide
    memadmax , May 6, 2011 10:37 PM
    yea, I was wonderin when someone was gonna troll the "can it play crysis" bs....
  • -1 Hide
    dconnors , May 6, 2011 10:39 PM
    memadmaxyea, I was wonderin when someone was gonna troll the "can it play crysis" bs....


    Troll has a negative connotation...me asking about Crysis was clearly a joke. Relax, please.

    -Devin Connors
    Senior Editor, Tom's Guide
  • 0 Hide
    truchonic , May 6, 2011 10:56 PM
    i hope they make a nice case
  • 0 Hide
    soopahdoopah , May 6, 2011 11:56 PM
    I'm pretty sure this thing isn't going to be able to do anything special.I may be wrong, but I seriously doubt that being able to output 1080p means it's able to play any 1080, or even 720p files. No mention of wifi or anything else that matters. Sure, it's WOO a mini incredulously basic computer, but is it practical for anything? No, not really. If they can do anything with the tech on it, then props to them. Otherwise, NBD.
  • 1 Hide
    pirateboy , May 7, 2011 12:57 AM
    "David Braben is best known for founding game development studio Frontier Developments, the group responsible for the Rollercoaster Tycoon series, Thrillville, Lost Winds and Microsoft's recent Kinect-based hit, Kinectimals."

    not mentioning Elite in that sentence should get you flogged
  • 3 Hide
    ProDigit10 , May 7, 2011 2:51 AM
    too bad they don't have a faq on their website.
    From the looks of things, the device gets powered via a powered USB hub (which is $10-20 additionally). Then add a USB keyboard and mouse, and a TV, and you're set!

    They also did not mention anything about mass production, nor price.
    I think it looks like a prototype right now, still in the developing phase. One of the things it probably needs is a plastic jacket. And from the looks of things, it's going to become bigger than a USB stick, since it has more than 2 ports (it also has an SD cardslot, and webcam/other device port).
  • 2 Hide
    ProDigit10 , May 7, 2011 2:54 AM
    soopahdoopahI'm pretty sure this thing isn't going to be able to do anything special.I may be wrong, but I seriously doubt that being able to output 1080p means it's able to play any 1080, or even 720p files. No mention of wifi or anything else that matters. Sure, it's WOO a mini incredulously basic computer, but is it practical for anything? No, not really. If they can do anything with the tech on it, then props to them. Otherwise, NBD.

    It seems to be equipped with a 700Mhz ARM processor, which could indicate that it will do 720p video. Perhaps even 1080i video. 1080p and 3D probably not.
  • 1 Hide
    Marco925 , May 7, 2011 3:39 AM
    jsheridanCool so this device will go to "third-world" children so they can access Twitter and Facebook to post things like "help me, i need medical assistance and food".Good idea that will help but I think there are other things that kids need first.

    I think that kids would be able to find this very useful indeed, while you criticise it with narrowminded ideas such as facebook and twitter, this is not what the device's sole purpose is for. it's not a facebook machine, it's a computer, to aid in education, to help get a job, build the person's skills in the world of today. In such a country where $1000 computers are worth more than 10 years of salaries, a $25 general purpose computer is something that can really help. We're not gonna get them out of poverty by sending aid alone. Let's educate too! So that we can help them dig out of the hole!!
  • 3 Hide
    aftcomet , May 7, 2011 3:53 AM
    So there are kids that have AIDS, are hungry and without food, have no access to school, medicine, even drinking water, and the first solution is the give them a USB computer which they probably can't even power...
  • -2 Hide
    cwwilson721 , May 7, 2011 5:29 AM
    Quote:
    A game designer has created a USB Stick-sized PC to help bring technology to children and third-world countries.

    Tiny USB-Sized PC Offers 1080p HDMI Output : Read more


    I think we have to look outside the box.

    You want it to run Crysis? Well, it can't. Want it to be a supercomputer. Well, it can't.

    But hundreds of them in parallel in a "USB server farm" could. 100 of these $25 running in parallel would be comparatively cheap.

    And THEN it could play Crysis. And beat you. BAD.
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , May 7, 2011 9:19 AM
    Now this is something I'm willing to support!
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