Tiny USB-Sized PC Offers 1080p HDMI Output

raspberry pi

British 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.

  • Hmm so I take it the kids in developing countries have HDTVs to hook this thing up with HDMI?
  • jrharbort
    This man is both a genius and a hero to come up with this kind of idea. Major kudos.
  • joytech22
    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.
  • cbrownx88
    It must have WiFi right?
  • waynewarrior78
    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.
  • jsheridan
    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.
  • willy481
    @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.
  • fir_ser
    One laptop per child has evolved to be the Netbook, so I wonder what this device will evolve to be?
  • dconnors
    ...but can it play Crysis?
  • memadmax
    yea, I was wonderin when someone was gonna troll the "can it play crysis" bs....