Raspberry Pi CEO Talks Pi Inventory, Next-Gen Boards

Raspberry Pi 400
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

In a recent interview with Micro Center, Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton, talked of the Raspberry Pi's future including the end of shortages and the development of a new Pi. Upton is confident that the Raspberry Pi will be free of shortages brought on by the pandemic and increased demand in the near future. 

Update (11/10): A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Upton expects the current shortages to continue for a year, rather than that he expects all stock issues to have been resolved by this time next year.  "There’s a vast difference between feeling confident that we’ll be free of shortages in a year and feeling that there will be a year of shortages," Upton told us. To be clearer, this means that he expects the situation to improve over time and to be completely resolved within 12 months.

The Raspberry Pi has always been a popular board, we just have to look at its launch in 2012 for evidence. The original resellers websites being swamped with orders, enough to crash many of the sites. Many thanks to LeePSPVideo for bringing this story to our attention. 

Since the Covid 19 pandemic and resulting chip shortage, the Raspberry Pi has often been hard to come by. Sometimes leading to scalpers offering units at inflated prices. But, according to Upton, those days are numbered.  

Upton states “I think in one year, hopefully Raspberry Pi will have recovered from the lingering effects of the Covid 19 pandemic." Later in the video (3m 56s) Upton remarks "Hopefully in a year's time, I think, probably If we accomplish one in thing in the next twelve months, it will be to rectify that situation" Upton is confident that in less than a year, Raspberry Pi stock levels should return to pre-pandemic levels.

Success of the Raspberry Pi 400

Later in the video, Upton remarks on the success of the Raspberry Pi 400 which introduced a computer with a similar form factor to the home computers of the 1980s. The Raspberry Pi 400 has been the best stocked version of the Raspberry Pi during the shortage, and it brings the power of the Raspberry Pi 4 into an all-in-one kit. Upton is keen to continue the Raspberry Pi 400 form factor, which Upton calls "the hundred series" with future boards. 

The Raspberry Pi 400 introduced a third form factor to the Pi range, along with the model A, B and the Compute Module. The Raspberry Pi 400 is "purely concealment" according to Upton, reflecting the design that wraps a keyboard enclosure around the Pi400's PCB. 

The Compute Module 4 is aimed more at the industrial sector, for those looking to integrate the power of the Raspberry Pi into its products. Lastly we have the classic Raspberry Pi form factor which has undergone some changes since the original board was released in 2012. One of the changes being for the Raspberry Pi 4 that saw the Ethernet and USB ports swapped.

Next-Gen Pi?

Looking further into the future, Upton briefly talks about new Raspberry Pi products. Hinting at future products with more processing power, better graphical power and enhanced machine learning capabilities. But Upton stops short of alluding that these will equate to a Raspberry Pi 5, just yet.

We can't forget the Raspberry Pi Pico, a board that has been immune to the shortages and has helped countless makers fulfil their projects. While other chips have been out of stock, the RP2040, the first custom in-house designed Raspberry Pi ASIC has been in abundance and providing makers with a versatile chip that can complete their projects. Upton enthuses about the number of third-party boards made using the RP2040, calling it an "explosion". 

Big names such as Adafruit, Seeed, SparkFun and Arduino have their own boards based on the RP2040, many of which are on our best RP2040 boards list. At the other end of the scale are the boutique makers, enjoying the plentiful RP2040 as it powers their run of products.

The news of the shortage coming to an end is most welcome. As the Raspberry Pi truly offers the best user experience of all the single board computers, largely thanks to an ever expanding community of makers and creators sharing their knowledge.

Les Pounder

Les Pounder is an associate editor at Tom's Hardware. He is a creative technologist and for seven years has created projects to educate and inspire minds both young and old. He has worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to write and deliver their teacher training program "Picademy".

  • bit_user
    I predict they'll go for 4x A75 CPU cores. That should deliver a noticeable speedup over the A72, while being cheaper to license & fab than A76 (due to being smaller). It'll help single-thread performance as well, unlike adding more cores.

    I think the GPU will get larger, and maybe gain some tensor or packed-arithmetic instructions, but I think they'll probably stick with the VideoCore architecture, since they've put so much work into the software stack for it. It'd be cheaper and easier to add AI features to the GPU than to add a whole new AI block, but that's certainly possible.

    I don't see RAM going beyond LPDDR4/X. I expect LPDDR5 is still going to be too expensive.