Raspberry Pi architect mulls design change

Raspberry Pi architect mulls design change

Summary: The Raspberry Pi system designer says he would like to create a new model of the cheap computer that provides a hardware boost, but the costs involved in doing so might rule any enhancements out.

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The Raspberry Pi system designer says he would like to create a new model of the cheap computer that provides a hardware boost, but the costs involved in doing so might rule any enhancements out.

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi
(Credit: Raspberry Pi Foundation)

The Raspberry Pi is a computer roughly the size of a credit card (85.60x53.98x17mm), featuring a CPU clocking in at 700MHz, 256MB of RAM and a bevy of ports, including a USB and LAN port, an SD card slot, HDMI out, audio out and, of course, a power port. The Model B Raspberry Pi system-on-a-chip sold out within minutes on 29 February, leaving suppliers RS Components and Element 14 flooded with registrations of interest for the device.

Hardware designer Pete Lomas spoke to the Raspberry Pi Foundation today and said that he is considering changing a few things on the Model B board and releasing his new design under the model designation "B+". Lomas added that it's unlikely to come to market unless users call out for it.

"We are looking at the possibility of a Model B+ with additional RAM, but the costs do not look promising and unless we really run out of space for the cool stuff people want to do then it will be a while," Lomas said.

Lomas also took the time to answer community questions about the design of the Raspberry Pi Model B, saying that there are certainly a few flaws, especially in the alignment of the USB and Ethernet inputs.

"When I saw the prototype, I realised I'd messed this one up — my PCB symbol's outline was just plain wrong, [which] makes cases kind of interesting," he said.

The Raspberry Pi hardware designer said that he would love to put more features on the board, but budgetary constraints prevent him from doing so.

"Everyone was sat on my head to get costs down," he said, adding that features like additional RAM, audio in and Bluetooth would have blown the budget.

Despite the omissions, however, Lomas said that he is proud of the design.

"There are a few niggles with the design, mounting holes, connector alignment, but in the basic design, but no, it does the job. The biggest sacrifice? Hmm. Staying sober to do the layout," he joked, before adding "seriously if it achieves the goal we have set — it's awesomely worth it".

He says that he feels humbled that people like the unit enough to make it a sell-out product and he's pushing to get the cheap system on a chip into schools for educational use.

"[I'm] overwhelmed. We have a target to get these in schools and filling that gap — that's my focus," he said.

Raspberry Pi retails for $38 in Australia with more stock to grace the shelves of resellers soon.

Topics: Open Source, Hardware

Luke Hopewell

About Luke Hopewell

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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3 comments
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  • An SD slot is the purpose for neither physical damage nor disruption to the host device.
    Manasy
  • I'd be working on ramping up production of your current unit, first.
    meski.oz
  • Never mind a "B+" version, go for "C" and put in a few extras. I'd like a high speed ADC (100Msps) but that's just me...
    Final size? Equal to a 3.5 inch hard drive, with the same power connector.
    alan_r_cam