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The Raspberry Pi Zero is a tiny $5 programmable computer with giant potential

And you thought the $20 Raspberry Pi was crazily cheap.

The Raspberry Pi Zero: so much smaller than the bill it sells for. Image: Matt Richardson

Raspberry Pi has unveiled its latest device: a tiny programmable computer that sells for a just $5 called the Raspberry Pi Zero.

Despite its size -- a mere 65mm by 30mm by 5mm -- the Zero has a core that's 40 percent faster then the original Pi 1.

"We really don't think we're going to get any cheaper than this," said Eben Upton founder of Raspberry Pi, which has been building Raspberry Pi boards since 2012 with the aim of getting more people interested in programming.

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The original Raspberry Pi aimed at putting coding within reach of anyone with $20 to $35 to spend; while Raspberry Pi only expected to sell 10,000 of its original model, more than seven million have now been sold. An even smaller, cheaper device like this could have just as big an impact, especially in terms of fuelling the nascent Internet of Things (IoT).

But Upton said there were still people for whom cost is a barrier to entry.

"Even in the developed world, a programmable computer is a luxury item for a lot of people, and every extra dollar that we ask someone to spend decreases the chance that they'll choose to get involved," he said. At the start of this year Raspberry Pi began work on an even cheaper device to help these people take the plunge.

Upton describes the Raspberry Pi Zero, which is made in Wales, a "full-fledged member of the Raspberry Pi family".

Features include:

  • A Broadcom BCM2835 application processor
  • 1GHz ARM11 core
  • 512MB of LPDDR2 SDRAM
  • A micro-SD card slot
  • A mini-HDMI socket for 1080p60 video output
  • Micro-USB sockets for data and power
  • An unpopulated 40-pin GPIO header
  • Identical pinout to Model A+/B+/2B
  • An unpopulated composite video header

Raspberry Pi Zero runs Raspbian and applications including Scratch, Minecraft and Sonic Pi. It is available today in the UK from element14, The Pi Hut and Pimoroni, and in the US from Adafruit and in-store at Micro Center.

"We've built several tens of thousands of units so far, and are building more, but we expect demand to outstrip supply for the next little while," said Upton. The Zero is also being given away on the front of each copy of the December issue of The MagPi, the Raspberry Pi magazine.

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