Update 4/12 05:36 PT
Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton has provided clarification and answered additional questions regarding the press release and Raspberry Pi in general. These responses have been added to the original article.
In a press release, Sony Semiconductor Solutions (SSS) has announced an agreement to make a minority stake in Raspberry Pi LTD with a view to forming a strategic collaborative Edge AI development framework.
Sony's press release states that "Through this strategic investment, we aim to strengthen the relationship between the two companies and provide a development platform for SSS's edge AI solutions to the community of Raspberry Pi users around the world." The edge AI solution being AITRIOS, an AI based sensing platform which sits at the "edge" between our data and the cloud.
Teruji Shimizu, President and CEO of Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation states that "Our AITRIOS" platform , which supports the development of unique and diverse solutions using edge AI devices, has formed a partnership with Raspberry Pi Ltd., which has the world's largest developer community, to develop Raspberry Pi We are very excited to offer our users and developer community a unique development experience. ” What this means is up for debate. A statement from Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton states. "This collaboration further expands our relationship and introduces products using Sony Semiconductor Solutions' AI technology into the Raspberry Pi ecosystem. This will allow users to use machine learning at the edge to create new attractions. We will help you to build a realistic application."
Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton has responded to our request for clarification on this press release. We asked what this investment meant for Raspberry Pi, the company and of course the Raspberry Pi itself? Upton responded "It's a great vote of confidence in Raspberry Pi from one of our oldest, and most important, strategic partners. While the focus of the announcement is around AI solutions, we should remember that it's a much broader relationship, anchored of course by contract manufacturing at the Sony UK Technology Centre in Pencoed."
When asked if this investment would expedite the resupply of Raspberry Pi, Upton replied "No, largely because it's too late! We already made investments in 2022 which will bring the shortages to an end over the next quarter or so. We're still on the track we described in December , albeit it looks like 3A+ and Zero have come back into stock in the opposite order from the one I predicted."
We asked if this would generate any new products, Upton states that there isn't a specific product announcement today, "but we expect to build a variety of products around Sony Semiconductor devices, including their AI-enabled image sensors."
Sony has long ties with Raspberry Pi. Millions of Raspberry Pi have poured out from its factory in Pencoed, Wales. But SBCs are not the only Raspberry Pi product made in collaboration with Sony. The recent Camera Module 3, High Quality cameras and Global Shutter camera all uses Sony lenses. For the moment we will have to wait and see what this partnership will bring.