In-depth

Raspberry Pi: What's in it for business?

The £29 micro-computing marvel has finally shipped, and we investigate the potential business benefits that it could deliver in the UK.

You may have heard about the tasty Raspberry Pi. The single-board computer sent websites crashing when it was put on pre-order for just 29, in February.

The not-for-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation has overcome manufacturing difficulties and regulatory issues to finally start shipping units to the 250,000 eager consumers who have placed an order.

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The brainchild of Broadcom engineer Dr. Eben Upton and software developer David Braben, the credit-card sized board is more than just a new gadget for the masses. The Pi could potentially herald a second revolution in UK home computing by recreating the micro computing boom of the 1980s. We take a look at the opportunities the Pi brings.

The Raspberry Pi packs around four times more multimedia decoding performance than Apple's iPhone 4

Low-cost development

The most obvious impact of the Raspberry Pi's launch is in providing a low-cost development platform for businesses. Interest in the ARM platform has grown exponentially as smartphones and tablets based on the British firms architecture continue to dominate the market.

Companies are increasingly looking to develop products based on ARM IP and even Microsoft has got in on the action with the impending launch of the Windows RT operating system, later this year.

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To develop an ARM-based product, you need a development board. A typical board, such as the Qualcomm Dragonboard or Samsung Origen, costs several hundred pounds - and to avoid bottlenecks, you're going to be buying one per developer.

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With large firms typically having several teams of between five to 10 developers working on separate, this gets costly. It's possible to cut back on capital expenditure by purchasing a smaller number of development boards and relying on emulation for other developers, but this is never as efficient as having the real hardware to hand.

The Raspberry Pi costs just 29 in the UK and $35 elsewhere and the package includes a remarkably powerful system that is suitable for all members of the development team.

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