What's a Raspberry Pi

By: Edgar Pisani

The Raspberry Pi is a small, barebones computer developed by The Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK charity, with the intention of providing low-cost computers and free software to students. Their ultimate goal is to foster computer science education and they hope that this small, affordable computer will be a tool that enables that.

The printed circuit board (PCB) houses the input and output connectors as well as the computer hardware itself.

The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B has a quad core processor and is the version with the most connectivity options. This is the model that most enthusiasts are interested in.

Raspberry Pi 2 Model B Ports

Specifications and performance

As for the specifications, the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B is a credit card-sized computer powered by the Broadcom BCM2836 system-on-a-chip (SoC). This SoC includes a quad core 32-bit ARM1176JZFS processor, clocked at 900MHz, and a Videocore IV GPU. It also has 1GB of RAM in a POP package above the SoC. The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B is powered by a 5V micro USB AC charger or at least 4 AA batteries.

While the ARM CPU delivers real-world performance similar to that of a 300MHz Pentium 2, the Broadcom GPU is a very capable graphics core capable of hardware decoding several high definition video formats. However, in order to keep costs of the Raspberry Pi low, the UK charity has only licensed the H.264 codec for hardware decoding. You can purchase MPEG-2 and VC-1 codecs to decode those video formats in hardware. The Videocore IV GPU is rather potent as it is capable of hardware decoding 1080p H.264 with bit-rates up to 40Mb/s.

The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B — features HDMI video output, four USB 2.0 ports, a 10/100 Ethernet port, Micro SD card slot, 40 Pin GPIO (General Purpose I/O Expansion Board) connector, and analog audio/composite video output (4-post 3.5mm A/V jack).

What does the Raspberry Pi do?

The allure of the Raspberry Pi comes from a combination of the computer’s small size and affordable price. Enthusiasts envision using the small form-factor PC as a cheap home theater PC (HTPC), or secondary low-power desktop. Institutions, like schools and businesses, could benefit from deploying a fleet of computers for a fraction of the cost of traditional desktop towers. The small size makes for an easy-to-hide computer that sips power and can be mounted behind the display with an appropriate case. It could also be used in niche applications, like digital signage. While it will not blow away any recent hardware in performance, it does make for a cheap secondary computer. It can also be useful for troubleshooting and researching as just by replacing a SD card you can get a completely different operating system.

You can learn more about the PI here: http://www.raspberrypi.org/

Where to get it?

If you want to shop for Raspberry Pi products, visit our Raspberry Pi shopping area.


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