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

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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BCM2835 SoC is based on the previous-generation ARMv6 instruction set architecture, which makes it a relatively outdated device.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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