Its name is a bit strange but Raspberry Pi is the common name of series of single-board computers. The creator of the Raspberry Pi has the same name as the board where it is the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The first version of the Raspberry Pi launched in 2012 with a configuration of 700 MHz CPU, 256 MB RAM. During time 4 more main configuration is released and named with numbers like Raspberry Pi 2, Raspberry Pi 3, Raspberry Pi 4 and low-cost version Raspberry Pi Zero. Raspberry Pi mainly designed to be cheap affordable SOC (single-board computer) which is priced around 25$ – 35$ for different versions.
Raspberry Pi Project Aim
Raspberry Pi project is launched by a foundation which has some objectives in creating the Raspberry Pi SOC.
- `Cheap`: Raspberry Pi is designed to be cheap because everyone should easily afford it to use. Also being cheap makes it be used to build in different projects and products without cost restrictions. Making Raspberry Pi cheap also make it available around the world for different countries and poor communities.
- `Featureful`: Raspberry Pi is designed to be featureful because it needs to be used in different projects with different features. Raspberry Pi should be used from weather applications to the projecting applications with its I/O pins and HDMI output. It should also connect different USB devices for expansion.
- `Easy To Obtain`: As the price of the Raspberry Pi is low the shipment cost also should be low. Around the world, different sellers sell it without or very low shipment cost.
- `Easy To Use and Program`: IOT or SOC devices was hard to program and use in the past but Raspberry Pi uses generic operating systems like Debian, Ubuntu, Windows variants where most of the tools and applications can be used easily.
- `Boost IOT Development`: IOT is features of the IT where every object in our world should be connected to the common and most popular network internet. Raspberry Pi can connect and provide powerful features to different devices like the door, window, refrigerator, car, etc.
Raspberry Pi Models and Versions
Raspberry Pi became so popular so its new versions are released regularly. REcently Raspberry Pi 4 released in June 2019. For each released, there are A and B models where A is designed to be a bit cheaper and B Model is designed to be more features.
- `Raspberry Pi 1 Model B` is released in 2012 and priced at 35$.
- `Raspberry Pi 1 Model A` is released in 2013 and priced as 25$
- `Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+` is released in 2014 and priced at 35$
- `Raspberry Pi 1 Model A+` is released in 2014 and priced at 20$
- `Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+` is released in 2014 and priced at 35$
- `Raspberry Pi 2 Model B` is released in 2015 and priced at 35$
- `Raspberry Pi Zero` is released in 2015 and priced at 35$
- `Raspberry Pi 3 Model B` is released in 2016 and priced at 35$
- `Raspberry Pi Zero W` is released in 2017 and priced at 35$
- `Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+` is released in 2018 and priced at 35$
- `Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+` is released in 2019 and priced at 25$
- `Raspberry Pi 4 Model B` is released in 2019 and priced at 35$
Raspberry Pi Hardware Specs
Well, we have learned that there are a lot of different Raspberry Pi versions and models released in years with different specification. In this part, we will look at Raspberry Pi 4 Model B hardware and feature specification as an example.
- 1.5 GHz ARMv8 64 Bit CPU
- 1GB or 2GB or 4GB LPDDR4 RAM which depends on the model
- 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 802.11ac Wireless Interface
- 1 Gb Ethernet Interface
- 2x USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0 ports
- 40 Pin GPIO
- 2x micro-HDMI with 4K and 60 fps support
- H.265 and H.264 hardware support
Raspberry Pi Uses
Raspberry Pi is designed to be generic SOC which can be used in different use cases for different purposes. Here we will list the most popular and interesting of them.
- NAS (Network Attached Storage)
- Smartphone by adding some basic screen
- Multimedia theater with Kodi or similar software
- Weather Station
- Gaming Console
- Tea cooker
- Tor Client
- Router and Switch
- Cat Feeder
- Pi in The Sky in the space
Raspberry Pi Software
Raspberry Pi is very flexible for choice for Operating System and Software. As official Raspbian or Debian for Raspberry Pi is used and provided. But there are different Linux flavors, Windows and Real-Time Operating systems those support Raspberry Pi. These operating systems and software can be downloaded from the following link.
- Raspberry Pi Debian (Raspbian) is officially supported by the Raspberry Pi foundation and provides Debian Linux distribution and its features.
- `Ubuntu Mate` is provided with Ubuntu Distributions with simple and fast Mate Desktop.
- `Ubuntu Core` is Ubuntu IOT version
- `Ubuntu Server` is a specially designed Server version of the Ubuntu for ARM architecture
- `Windows 10 IoT` is Windows taste of ARM systems.
- `OSMC` or Open Source Media Center is a Multimedia Distributions for TV’s
- `LibreELEC` or `Kodi` for multimedia box
- `PiNet` is a classroom management system
- `RISC OS` non-Linux distribution for Real-Time application usage.
- `Weather Station` is a weather appliance
Programming Raspberry Pi
As Raspberry Pi can run Linux and Windows operating systems it supports most of the programming languages, libraries, SDK’s. So we can use programming languages like Python, Java, C/C++, PHP in Raspberry Pi devices. The biggest issue is as Raspberry Pi is ARM CPU architecture which is different from popular X86 and x86_64 architectures some libraries may not be ported into the ARM. But most of them can be used without problem.
Raspberry Pi Advantages
Raspberry Pi is very popular because of its advantages over other systems or IoT devices. We will list them here.
- `Price` of the Raspberry Pi is very affordable which makes it number 1 choice for the product and software developers.
- `Size` of the RaspberyPi is very convenient for different use cases especially in area restricted projects
- `Power` of the Raspberry Pi is very good according to its competitors
- `Community` of the Raspberry Pi is very diverse and helpful which is boosting the usage and development of the software
- `Features` of the Raspberry Pi like HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet makes it useful for a diverse range of projects
Raspberry Pi Disadvantages
Well I wish do not tell you disadvantages of the Raspberry Pi but there are some which are a tradeoff.
- `Limited resources` according to Atom and other rugged boards
- `General Use` makes it improper for embedded and rugged projects which requires some resistance to the outer effects like hot, cold, etc.