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.

Based on a Broadcom system-on-chip processor, the Raspberry Pi is no larger than a credit card, but packs around four times more multimedia decoding performance than Apple's iPhone 4.

Software developers gain access to a low-cost processor with powerful video decoding and 3D rendering capabilities. Hardware developers can make use of 26-pin general-purpose input-output (GPIO), MIPI camera and Display Serial Interconnect (DSI) connectors as well as on-board USB, HDMI and analogue audio.

Raspberry Pi configuration

The Broadcom BCM2835 SoC is based on ARMv6 architecture

By reducing capital expenditure on hardware and removing the need for inefficient system emulation, the Pi has the potential to significantly reduce time-to-market and project costs.

However, the low cost also counts against the Pi. The Broadcom BCM2835 SoC is based on the previous-generation ARMv6 instruction set architecture, which makes it a relatively outdated device. With most manufacturers standardising on the ARMv7-based Cortex family, the Pi isn't a drop-in replacement - and the lack of an IEEE 1149.1 Standard Test Access Port (JTAG) puts bare-metal development on a back footing.

As an accessory to existing boards, the Pi holds promise - but as a replacement it is found lacking.

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