Raspberry Pi Still Hard to Get as Company Can't Meet Demand

Raspberry Pi Deals cover
(Image credit: Future)

Unless you have been living under a rock these past two years, you will be aware that chip shortages are hurting every facet of the technology industry. Whether you are an an international manufacturer or a keen maker creating on the side, the chip shortage has hit your business. Raspberry Pi is not immune to this. 

In the last official update from April 2022, co-founder Eben Upton stated "the current situation is as much a demand shock as a supply shock: demand for Raspberry Pi products increased sharply from the start of 2021 onwards, and supply constraints have prevented us from flexing up to meet this demand". 

In a recent livestream, venerable Raspberry Pi YouTuber Jeff Geerling talked about the current Raspberry Pi supply, and the short of it is: there is no change. But we have a little more insight into the situation. Long story short, according to Geerling, it isn't going to change this year.

Geerling contacted Upton to ask for an update on the situation. Upton's response was that everything in the April 4 2022 blog post  is still valid. There are still supply constraints. Raspberry Pi are unable to get the volume of components necessary to produce Raspberry Pi in higher volumes. 

What supplies are available, are being prioritized for OEM / industrial customers. The reasoning for this according to Upton is to "not let the companies that rely on Raspberry Pi to wither and die" and there are many companies which have baked Raspberry Pi into their products.  

Later in Geerling's stream, he states that Raspberry Pi are "ringfencing" retail stock for consumers (we've contacted Eben Upton to comment further), but we have no clear indication on volumes but Upton did say via Geerling's video that 400,000 Raspberry Pi, not Raspberry Pi Pico are being produced each month. If you're thinking that the Raspberry Pi 5 is a factor in the problem, well we're sorry to report that it is not. While we still don't even know if there is any working Pi 5 silicon, we do know, via Geerling, that there isn't the capacity to produce more Raspberry Pi. 

In an interesting move, a communication between Geerling and Upton suggests that if you are an OEM or a member of the community who has an absolute need for a Raspberry Pi, for example educational / scientific projects (not arcade cabinets or general projects, sadly) then it is possible to email Raspberry Pi and make a business case. But like we say, if you use case isn't critical, you won't be getting a Pi via this method.

At the end of the segment, Geerling reiterates a message from Raspberry Pi, that there will not be an updated supply blog post until there is something to say.
Closing out, Geerling offers his opinion "I would like Raspberry Pi to start prioritizing hobbyists and makers again. That was the original intention, education, hobbyists and makers". Geerling continues "a lot of the Raspberry Pi community is in the makerspace and its hard to see those people having to choose alternatives." 

So where does this leave us? Consumers will still need to keep an eye on rpilocator for the latest stock levels and get ready to snipe a Pi for MSRP. Failing that, eBay and Amazon are awash with Raspberry Pis, if you are willing to pay the scalping fee. If you do score a Pi, check out our article on how to set up a Raspberry Pi for the first time or how to set up a headless Pi

You can also consider alternative boards. The Khadas VIM4 and LattePanda 3 Delta are both worthy alternatives, but come in at a much higher cost. If you need the Raspberry Pi form factor, consider Asus Tinkerboard 2S, but just be aware of the gremlins that lie within. If you need Raspberry Pi hardware, and don't need the horsepower, consider a Raspberry Pi Pico W. For $6 you get GPIO, dual core CPU and Wi-Fi connectivity. Plenty of power for the majority of home projects.

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".

  • Giroro
    For what it's worth, digikey will let you backorder a Pi 4 (4GB).
    The site's stock checking tool said expected delivery was next summer, but I received the one I ordered within 3 weeks and they didn't charge my card until it shipped.
    Reply
  • alex_john_m
    I gave up on the raspberry pi and switched to x86 thin clients and usb-to-gpio adapters. A single second-hand Atom thin client combined with four usb-to-gpio adapters is cheaper, has more computing power, uses less electricity than four pi's put together.

    Back in the day I would have used a separate PI for each project due to the limited computing power, but now I'm running the the equivalent of 4 PIs with a lot of computing power to spare in one box using about the same space. I haven't had any issues with any of the existing PI hats I tried so far and I might even expand to using arduino shields or extensions from other manufacturers since I'm no longer limited by the PI.

    I don't think I'll bother with PIs again, this setup is a lot more flexible.
    Reply
  • RolyanTrauts
    Giroro said:
    For what it's worth, digikey will let you backorder a Pi 4 (4GB).
    The site's stock checking tool said expected delivery was next summer, but I received the one I ordered within 3 weeks and they didn't charge my card until it shipped.
    Lols Farnel also let you back order but they also publish eta and its late Autumn 2023!
    I have had an order in for 6 months now.
    Reply
  • RolyanTrauts
    alex_john_m said:
    I gave up on the raspberry pi and switched to x86 thin clients and usb-to-gpio adapters. A single second-hand Atom thin client combined with four usb-to-gpio adapters is cheaper, has more computing power, uses less electricity than four pi's put together.

    Back in the day I would have used a separate PI for each project due to the limited computing power, but now I'm running the the equivalent of 4 PIs with a lot of computing power to spare in one box using about the same space. I haven't had any issues with any of the existing PI hats I tried so far and I might even expand to using arduino shields or extensions from other manufacturers since I'm no longer limited by the PI.

    I don't think I'll bother with PIs again, this setup is a lot more flexible.

    There are some great deals to be had with x86 thin clients often built with older Intel Atom chips.
    $20-40 can get you a great deal and clean out the fan/heatsink some new thermal paste and you have also helped stop unnescary e-waste.
    Reply