Raspberry Pi chief Eben Upton says his company is just beginning to recover from two years of "supply chain hell", so fans shouldn't expect a successor to the Raspberry Pi 4 in the next year.
Upton told the ExplainingComputers show this week that, due to the ongoing supply chain recovery, Raspberry Pi likely won't release a Raspberry Pi 5 in 2023.
"So I think don't expect a Pi 5 next year. Next year is a recovery year," Upton said.
It's been tough to find the sought-after single-board computers recently, though Upton last week told Pi fans that it been able to set aside "a little over a hundred thousand" units of the Zero W, Pi 3A+, and the 2GB and 4GB variants of Raspberry Pi 4 for single-unit sales ahead of the holiday season.
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The firm still has a "substantial" backlog of orders for commercial customers, said Upton. It needs to navigate the backlog alongside the challenge of reviving stocks with resellers serving individual developers.
Upton said the Zero and Zero W will become more available first, while there was less commercial demand for the Pi 3A+. The Pi 4 will reach unconstrained availability again last, which is likely to happen around the end Q3 2023.
"The chip allocations we've received for next year mean that by the end of the third quarter, the channel will have recovered to its equilibrium stocking level, with hundreds of thousands of units available at any given time," he said.
On the question of Pi 5, Upton noted that supply chain issues since the pandemic slowed not just Raspberry Pi down, but everyone.
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"So there's merit in spending a year before we think about introducing, spending a year recovering what's happened to all of us," argued Upton. But he noted that not introducing a Pi 5 in 2023 would make Pi 4, which launched in June 2019, the longest-serving Pi platform to date, albeit with numerous optimizations over the time.
Defending the decision to not target 2023 for a Pi 5, he also pointed out that launching a Pi 5 could jeopardize the recovery of Pi 4 supplies, even though the Pi 5 could be expected to be produced on a different process node. Additionally, it could cause the Pi 5 launch to stumble.
Supplies of the 28nm BCM2711 part used on Raspberry Pi 4 and Compute Module 4 held up in the early phases of the global chip shortage and it had reserved BCM2711 silicon supply for its then-new Raspberry Pi 400. It was struggling with 40nm parts used on its older products.
"What would really be a disaster was if we tried to introduce some sort of Raspberry Pi 5 product … and it couldn't ramp properly because of some constraint; or if we introduced some Raspberry Pi 5 product and it somehow cannibalized some supply chain element," Upton said.
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"There's an assumption with Raspberry Pi 5 that you would need to be on a new process node. So, you might say, well, 'How does that cannibalize the existing wafer supply on 28 or 40nm? But you got to remember these shortages aren't all about a circuit. Some of them are about packaging, some of them are about test capacity, some of them are about substrates.
"The other thing that would be disastrous is if we found that cannibalizing the recovery of Pi 4 or recovery of Pi 3 or 3+ by doing this. So I think we're going to be very ginger about how we look to move forward."
But Pi fans shouldn't give up on the idea of Pi 5, which has a better chance of arriving in 2024.
"But the good news is, in the second half of the year, 2024 going onwards, some of those things start to abate and that's the point where we can start to think about what might be a sensible Raspberry Pi 5 platform," said Upton.