Raspberry Pi's Eben Upton: Increased Demand Despite Shortages

Eben Upton on The Pi Cast
(Image credit: Future)

Eben Upton, Welsh-born businessman and Raspberry Pi inventor, has had a few choice things to say in an interview with The Register, published today. In it, he describes the current semiconductor supply situation as “hand-to-hand-combat,” and that it’s “unlikely to end until 2023”. The good news, however, is that the Pi business is doing very nicely, thanks to an increase in demand.

Raspberry Pi 4

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Upton, who appeared on Tom’s Hardware: The Pi Cast last month, made his comments as potential Pi purchasers have started to notice shortages in stock at resellers, particularly those models popular with industrial clients, such as the Pi Zero and Pi 4 2GB. The company has been shipping units at rates as high as 800,000 a month, putting a strain on its pipeline. We took a look at UK reseller, Pimoroni's Raspberry Pi 4 stock and notice that only the 8GB model was in stock but limited to five per customer. We also looked at The Pi Hut, who had sold out of 2GB models, but showed stock of 4GB and 8GB models. Finally we went to CPC, part of Premier Farnell, who had over 5000 8GB Raspberry Pi 4 in stock, but 4GB models were on back order. Oddly CPC showed that stock of the 2GB, 16GB eMMC and Wi-Fi Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 would not be available before February 12, 2022. Other variants were in stock, or with much shorter lead times.

"The aspiration of Raspberry Pi was always to be able to serve large industrial orders from stock," Upton told The Register. "What's stopping us from flexing up is basically everything... everything is on fire. It's the motto of this year.

"Zero supply is extremely tight at the moment," he continued. "It's been disproportionately affected both by the increase in general demand and the push-out of semiconductor lead times. We're doing our best to address it, but it's a difficult balancing act serving both OEM customers and individuals via the Approved Reseller network.

"What's happened this year," Upton said, "is the industrial side of the business has grown. I think, in the first six months, we did more compute modules than in the whole of last year." And as for the future: “I think we'll survive through the rest of 2022 with non-Zero products just about in stock," he said, "and then be in a much healthier position from Q1 of next year. But honestly the hand-to-hand combat element is unlikely to end until 2023."

Ian Evenden
Freelance News Writer

Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.