Raspberry Pi Unveils a Smaller, Cheaper Minicomputer

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2014-11-10 Print this article Print
Raspberry Pi computer

The organization behind the Raspberry Pi is releasing the latest iteration of the minicomputer that is smaller and even more affordable than the original.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation on Nov. 10 unveiled the Model A+, a Linux-based computing board that includes many of the features of the Model A—which was introduced in 2012—including the BCM2835 ARM-based application processor from Broadcom and 256MB of memory. However, the Model A+ is smaller—65mm long, as compared with 86mm for the Model A—more power-efficient and costs $20, according to Eben Upton, founder of Raspberry Pi and CEO of the foundation's engineering team.

The original Model A is priced at $25.

In addition, the Model A+ includes many of the enhancements the foundation made to the Model B+, which was announced in July. That includes having 40 pins in its general-purpose input/output (GPIO) header rather than 26, and supports the foundation's HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) standard, a spec introduced in July with the Model B+ for third-party add-on boards.

"A significant feature of HATs is the inclusion of a system that allows the B+ to identify a connected HAT and automatically configure the GPIOs and drivers for the board, making life for the end user much easier," James Adams, director of hardware at Raspberry Pi, wrote in a post on the foundation's blog at the time of HAT's introduction.

In addition, the Model A+ includes better audio capabilities through the use of a dedicated low-noise power supply and the Micro SD has been improved by removing the older friction-fit socket and replacing it with a better push-push micro SD version, Upton wrote in a post on the foundation's blog.

The Model A+ version is a significant step forward for the foundation's efforts, according to Upton.

"When we announced Raspberry Pi back in 2011, the idea of producing an 'ARM GNU/Linux box for $25' seemed ambitious, so it's pretty mind-bending to be able to knock another $5 off the cost while continuing to build it here in the UK, at the same Sony factory in South Wales we use to manufacture the Model B+," he wrote.

The group released the first versions of the credit-card-size computer in 2012. Foundation members hoped students and enthusiasts would embrace the device and use it to learn how to program. The popularity of the Raspberry Pi grew beyond expectations, and some companies have found ways to use the system. The Raspberry Pi Foundation reportedly has sold more than 2 million units of its Model A (which has one USB port and sells for $25) and Model B (with its two USB ports and a $35 price tag).

The Model A+ is available in the United States through MCM Electronics and in the U.K. via Farnell.

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