By Matthew Dublin
While not related to HPC or bioinformatics per say, an effort by the UK-based foundation Raspberry Pi might have some interesting implications for ultra-cheap distributed computing. Led by David Braben, who is well known in the gaming world as the developer of the legendary Elite, Raspberry Pi is looking to mass produce a key-chain computer to mass a PC when they hope to sell for $25.
Here are the provisional specs on their tiny computer:
• 700MHz ARM11
• 128MB of SDRAM
• OpenGL ES 2.0
• 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode
• Composite and HDMI video output
• USB 2.0
• SD/MMC/SDIO memory card slot
• General-purpose I/O
• Open software (Ubuntu, Iceweasel, KOffice, Python)
The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK registered charity aimed at promoting the study of computer science and related topics in an educational setting. It says on their website that they expect their computer to eventually have many other applications both in the developed and developing world. Currently, their prototype is the size of a USB drive and can be plugged into a TV or touch screen used together with a mouse, keyboard, and monitor that are either composite or HDMI-compatible, to make a cheap tablet computer.
This effort will probably remind folks of the One Laptop Per a Child initiative, which is a bit higher-end and has relatively little adoption compared to the scope of the program's original vision.
Raspberry Pi device running Ubuntu 9.04:
Raspberry Pi device with attached 12MPixel camera module: