What’s a Raspberry Pi?

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. They want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.RaspiModelB-1024x902

Can I buy shares in the Raspberry Pi Foundation?


Where can I buy one?

You can buy the Raspberry Pi through Premier Farnell/Element 14 and RS Components. Both distributors sell all over the world.
In mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau you can also buy directly through Egoman Technology Corp.

How many can I buy in one go?
They’ve lifted the one-per-person restriction: you can buy as many as you want.

How much will it cost?
The Model A will cost $25 and the Model B $35, plus local taxes and shipping/handling fees.

What will I get when I buy one?
You will get the Raspberry Pi Board itself. A power supply or SD cards are not included but can be purchased at the same time from Farnell and RS. You will be able to buy preloaded SD cards too.

Why is the price in US Dollars? You’re a UK company!
The components they buy are priced in dollars, and they negotiate manufacturing in dollars. Because currency markets are so volatile at the moment, they price the final board in dollars too so they don’t have to keep changing the price.

Will there be a buy-one-give-one program?
Yes. They plan to implement a program of this sort, but you can also just buy one if you prefer.

Will the device be available internationally?
intend to ship worldwide from launch. They may establish a distribution network in due course.

Will there be a minimum order quantity?
The minimum order quantity will be one unit.

I want to be a Raspberry Pi reseller.
They’ve got an exclusive distribution arrangement with RS and Farnell; what 7513051848_9a6ef2feb8_o-1024x682resellers are doing is buying in bulk from them (which reduces shipping costs to nearly nothing) and selling on. You don’t need any special licence to resell, and they’re very happy to sell on to resellers. Unfortunately, because of the way the pricing model (and the fact that they’re a charity) works, you won’t be able to get a discount for bulk – what most resellers are doing is using it as a way to sell high-margin peripherals and so on.


What’s the difference between Model A and Model B?
Model A has 256MB RAM, one USB port and no Ethernet (network connection). Model B has 512MB RAM, 2 USB port and an Ethernet port.

What are the dimensions of the Raspberry Pi?
The Raspberry Pi measures 85.60mm x 56mm x 21mm, with a little overlap for the SD card and connectors which project over the edges. It weighs 45g.

What SoC are you using?
The SoC is a Broadcom BCM2835. This contains an ARM1176JZFS, with floating point, running at 700Mhz, and a Videocore 4 GPU. The GPU is capable of BluRay quality playback, using H.264 at 40MBits/s. It has a fast 3D core accessed using the supplied OpenGL ES2.0 and OpenVG libraries.

Why did you select the ARM11?
Cost and performance.

How powerful is it?
The GPU provides Open GL ES 2.0, hardware-accelerated OpenVG, and 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode.

The GPU is capable of 1Gpixel/s, 1.5Gtexel/s or 24 GFLOPs of general purpose compute and features a bunch of texture filtering and DMA infrastructure.

That is, graphics capabilities are roughly equivalent to Xbox 1 level of performance. Overall real world performance is something like a 300MHz Pentium 2, only with much, much swankier graphics.

Will it overclock?
Most devices will run happily at 800MHz. In the latest Raspbian distro there is an option to change the overclocking options on first boot and any time afterwards by running “raspi-config” without voiding your warranty. It should be noted that these are experimental settings and not every board will be able to run stably at the highest setting. If you experience issues, try reducing the overclocking settings until stability is restored.

Will it blend?
Yes. They have conducted extensive virtual simulations. No Raspberry Pis were harmed in the testing.

How does it boot?
You have to boot from SD but a USB HD can “take over” after the initial boot. You cannot boot without an SD card.

Where’s the on / off switch?
To switch on: just plug it in!

To switch off: remove power.

Why is there no real time clock (RTC)?
The expectation is that non-network connected units will have their clocks updated manually at startup. Adding an RTC is surprisingly expensive, once you’ve factored in batteries, area and componentry and would have pushed them above their target price. You can add one yourself using the GPIO pins if you’re after an interesting electronics project.

Will you sell a self-assembly kit?
No. It would be too expensive for them to provide kits alongside finished boards, which would mean introducing another step in manufacturing; and a kit would be impossible to hand solder. They use special equipment (robots!) to solder on the BGA package and other tiny components.

Can I add extra memory?
No. The RAM is a POP package on top of the SoC, so it’s not removable or swappable.

What hardware documentation will be available?
Broadcom don’t release a full datasheet for the BCM2835, which is the chip at the heart of the Raspberry Pi. They will release a datasheet for the SoC which will cover the hardware exposed on the Raspi board e.g. the GPIOs. They will also release a board schematic later on.

But I want documentation for <hardware X>!
Other documentation may be released in future but this will be at the Foundation’s discretion.

But I demand the documentation for the chip. Give it to me!
To get the full SoC documentation you would need to sign an NDA with Broadcom, who make the chip and sell it to them. But you would also need to provide a business model and estimate of how many chips you are going to sell.

Why doesn’t the Raspberry Pi include <insert name> piece of hardware or <insert name> sort of port?
Their main function is a charitable one – they’re trying to build the cheapest possible computer that provides a certain basic level of functionality, and keeping the price low means they’ve had to make hard decisions about what hardware and interfaces to include.

Can you test it to make sure that it is suitable for <X>?
If you want to use it for something that they haven’t tested, and that it’s not intended for (i.e. anything but the educational work they’re planning for it), then that development work is up to you.

How do I connect a mouse and keyboard?
Model A has one USB port and Model B has 2. Beyond this, mice, keyboards, network adapters and external storage will all connect via a USB hub.


Will it have a case?
At this time, there is no official case. There are many third party cases available; they suggest stopping by the forums and reading some of the threads about cases you can purchase or build yourself.

Will it fit in an Altoids tin?
Doesn’t quite work, I’m afraid – because they don’t round off the edges of the board, it’s a little too big to fit the tin.


What display can I use?
There is composite and HDMI out on the board, so you can hook it up to an old analogue TV, to a digital TV or to a DVI monitor (using a cheap adapter for the DVI). There is no VGA support, but adaptors are available, although these are relatively expensive.

Why is there no VGA support?
The chip specifically supports HDMI. VGA is considered to be an end-of-life technology, so supporting it doesn’t fit with their plans at the moment.

Is there a GPU binary?
Yes. The GPU binary also contains the first stage bootloader.

Can I add a touchscreen?
They haven’t experimented with any touchscreens yet, but there’s no electronic reason why it shouldn’t work. There’s lots of discussion about this on the forums. The main issue people are encountering seems to be one of cost; touchscreens are very pricey!

What is the usable temperature range?
The Raspberry Pi is built from commercial chips which are qualified to different temperature ranges; the LAN9512 is specified by the manufacturers being qualified from 0°C to 70°C, while the AP is qualified from -40°C to 85°C. You may well find that the board will work outside those temperatures, but they’re not qualifying the board itself to these extremes.


Is sound over HDMI supported?

What about standard audio in and out?
There’s a standard 3.5mm jack for audio out. You can add any supported USB microphone for audio in.


What are the power requirements?
The device is powered by 5v micro USB. You can read more about it here. Power supplies will be available at launch.

Can I run power Raspberry Pi from batteries as well as from a wall socket?
Yes. The device should run off 4 x AA rechargeable cells, but there may be stability issues as the batteries lose their charge. Using 4 x AA Alkaline cells will result in 6v and it is therefore recommended to use a voltage regulator.

Is power over Ethernet (PoE) possible?
Not in the base device, but it’s been a very commonly requested feature, so they’re examining options for later releases.


What operating system (OS) does it use?
They recommend Debian as their default distribution. It’s straightforward to replace the root partition on the SD card with another ARM Linux distro if you want to use something else (there are several available on the downloads page). The OS is stored on the SD card.

Does it have an official programming language?
By default, they’ll be supporting Python as the educational language. They also support Java, which is one of the most frequently used languages in higher education.

Any language which will compile for ARMv6 can be used with the Raspberry Pi, though; so you’re not limited to these.

Will it run WINE (or Windows, or other x86 software)?

What Linux distros will be supported at launch?
Fedora, Debian and ArchLinux will be supported from the start. They hope to see support from other distros later. (Because of issues with newer releases of Ubuntu and the ARM processor they are using, Ubuntu can’t commit to support Raspberry Pi at the moment.) You will be able to download distro images from them as soon as the Raspberry Pi is released, and they will also be selling pre-loaded SD cards shortly after release.

Will it run Android?
A version of android can be found in the forum. It is not presently stable enough for everyday use, however work is continuing on it.

Will it run <insert name of program here>?
In general, you need to look to see whether the program you want can be compiled for the ARMv6 architecture. In most cases the answer will be yes. Specific programs are discussed on their forum, so you might want to look there for an answer.

Will it run the new Windows 8 ARM version?
They are not partners with Microsoft, and their support would be required for porting Windows 8.

SD cards and storage
They have tried cards up to 32GB and most cards seem to work OK. The Wiki has more information about which makes and models work best. You can also attach a USB stick or USB hard drive for storage. The minimum sized SD card you can use is 2GB, but it is recommended to use at least 4GB if you want to additional programs to the image.

What happens if I brick the device?
You can restore the device by reflashing the SD card.


Does the device support networking? Is there Wi-Fi?
The Model B version of the device includes 10/100 wired Ethernet. There is no Ethernet on the Model A version (which they expect to be taken up mostly by the education market), but Wi-Fi will be available via a standard USB dongle.

Will there be a WiFi option?
Not in the first version, though you can add a dongle. ARM Linux WiFi support can be a bit patchy; there’s a list of tested dongles on the wiki.

Why no Gigabit Ethernet?
The Ethernet is driven via USB 2.0, so the upstream bandwidth would not support Gigabit.

Does the device have support for any form of netbooting or pxe?
No. However, it’s such a low power device that they expect it to be left on much of the time!

How do you connect more than two USB devices?
Use a hub to increase the number of ports. Some keyboards have hubs built in which would work well. It is recommended to use a powered hub.


What educational material will be available?
They’re working with partners to get software materials developed, as well as with the open source community. Computing at School are writing a user guide and programming manual, they’re aware of a few books being planned and written around the Raspberry Pi, and others have already started to produce some excellent tutorials including video. They’re also working with partners to use it as a teaching platform for other subjects, including languages, maths and so on.

Once they launch, they hope that the community will help bodies like Computing at School put together teaching material such as lesson plans and resources and push this into schools. In due course, the foundation hopes to provide a system of prizes to give young people something to work towards.

There’s lots of discussion of educational uses and resources in their forums – come and have a chat!

I still have more questions!

Check the wiki pages at http://elinux.org/RaspberryPiBoard for more information, or ask in the forums, where there are lots of helpful Raspberry Pi owners, users and fans who will be more than happy to help you out. https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/


BGA: ball grid array. A type of surface mount packaging for electronics.

SoC: system on chip. A computer on a single chip.

GPIO: General purpose input/output. A pin that can be programmed to do stuff.

GPU: graphics processing unit. The hardware the handles the graphics.

Distro: a specific package (“flavour”) of Linux and associated software.

Brick: to accidentally render a device inert by making changes to software or firmware.

Pxe: preboot execution environment. A way to get a device to boot by via the network.

PoE: power over ethernet. Powering a device via an ethernet cable.