The quest for the cheapest possible computer continues. Producing a computer at the cheapest possible rate possible has eluded quite a few. There were promises made, challenges met and then there wild boisterous claims unfulfilled. One Laptop per Child (OLPC) was an ambitious project which met with cost challenges. Though OLPC looked more realistic. India’s own $35 tablet turned out to be a more boast than substance. Indian HRD needs to procure 1 million devices and give a substantial subsidy to make the cost $35. That was at least a year ago and we haven’t yet heard anything about it. My guess is we may never hear it.
Of all the things we have seen so far, this computer from Raspberry PI organization looks realistic and feasible. Raspberry PI has an agenda of making a working computer for $25 and this is how it looks.
Yes that’s the PC. No nonsense and no frills attached to. That little thing which is not longer than a USB drive is connected to a USB device, a HDMI device and a 12 megapixel camera using a general purpose IO port. If it has to become a full fledged computer then it has to be connected to a monitor and a input device. And here’s how it looks after it is set-up.
Here’s the PI running Ubuntu. Isn’t that wonderful.
For the geek in you, here are the specs :
- 700MHz ARM11
- 128MB of SDRAM
- OpenGL ES 2.0
- 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode
- Composite and HDMI video output
- USB 2.0
- SD/MMC/SDIO memory card slot
- General-purpose I/O
- Open software (Ubuntu, Iceweasel, KOffice, Python)
PI needs some peripherals to go with it. A USB hub connecting keyboard and mouse, HDMI composite output can be connected to a TV or a monitor and a SD card you have a fully running computer. Given how the prices are falling on these peripherals, this $25 barebones PC can be used with some used hardware or brand new stuff which wouldn’t cost more than $30. Of the peripherals, probably the monitor/TV is the costliest. The final cost could be less than a mobile phone.
The price of $25 is realistically set for the machine that runs the system, the CPU. Peripherals were ignored which was a mistake OLPC and $35 India tablet have committed themselves to. The notion of a computer being a cohesive unit will add to the costs.
This is good stuff. The real challenge for Raspberry now is to mass produce it. A step at which many have stumbled.