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Raspberry Pi: Why they are so hard to buy right now, and what you can do about it

Caught between a rise in demand and supply chain shortages, Raspberry Pi is has revealed what it plans to do.

If you haven't been able to buy a Raspberry Pi online, you're not alone. The British tech company and its resellers are creaking under the pressure of backlogs for the tiny computer, and supply can't keep up with demand. 

Raspberry Pi chief Eben Upton has said that the company is finding it hard to meet demand for many of its products but has outlined how it is working to deliver devices despite supply constraints. 

"As you will have noticed, it can be hard to buy a Raspberry Pi unit from stock at the moment," he says in a blogpost.  

Upton and company have been working hard to ship Pi products to customers despite multiple supply-chain challenges. It's also rolling out about 500,000 Pi computers each month from its factory in Wales.  

"We've consistently been able to build around half a million of our single-board computers and Compute Module products each month. As we said in October, the 28nm BCM2711 part used on Raspberry Pi 4 and Compute Module 4 has been more readily available than the 40nm parts used on our older products," says Upton. 

But Upton insists that Raspberry Pi supply issues are just as much about increased demand as the "supply shock" that resulted in "out of stock" messages that consumers see on all e-commerce sites from Pi resellers. 

"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, with the result that we now have significant order backlogs for almost all products. In turn, our many resellers have their own backlogs, which they fulfil when they receive stock from us," says Upton. 

These backlogs absorb Raspberry Pi units as fast as the company can produce them, with the result that little of that production volume ends up being immediately available on reseller websites. 

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"Where units do appear, bots often attempt to scalp stock which is then resold at higher prices elsewhere. Many Approved Resellers have implemented single-unit limits to combat this, with Adafruit and others going further and enforcing two-factor authentication – we're encouraging other Approved Resellers to consider this route," he said.

Unfortunately, for the average consumer of Pi products who want to build home projects, Upton says the company is prioritizing commercial and industrial customers.

"We're acutely aware that people's livelihoods are at stake. There is currently enough supply to meet the needs of those customers," says Upton. 

Upton urges customers to avoid scalpers and buy only through approved resellers, which sell Pi products at an agreed price.

Upton says the Pi 400 computer with a keyboard is readily available because the company reserved BCM2711 silicon supply for it. The microcontroller Pi Pico, based on the RP2040 in-house chip, is also in stock. 

Until the pandemic, hardware prices had been consistently falling. But in October 2021, Raspberry Pi, which makes computer models that cost between $70 a piece to 70 cents, was forced to raise its prices for the first time since its inception in 2012

The global chip shortage and supply chain issues have been affecting many companies, from Apple to Tesla and Ford. 

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