Print 14 comment(s) - last by Ammohunt.. on Feb 5 at 9:17 PM

Pint-sized PC uses only a third of the power of its predecessor

We covered the Raspberry Pi project back in its nascent days in 2011.  The Linux-on-a-stick project aimed to give an ultra-cheap Linux personal computer running Ubuntu on an ARM processor.  Since then the project has exploded thanks to strong interest from the "geekosystem" who salivated at the device's low cost and easy application to various microelectronics projects.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has struggled to keep up with orders, at times running out of stock.  To date is estimated to have sold over 1 million units since its April 2012 launch.  Those units were all "Model B" versions.

So what happened to the "Model A"?

Well The Raspberry Pi Foundation is about to lay that question to rest, announcing the availability of the Model A in Europe.  The newer Model A cuts the amount of onboard DRAM from 512 MB down to 256 MB, ditches the Ethernet port, and trims down to only one USB port.

Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi Model A is here! [Image Source: The Raspberry Pi Foundation]

However, it does bump the power efficiency so that the new model only uses a third of the power of the Model B.  The new model is power efficient enough to run on solar power and is perfect for "robots, sensor platforms in remote locations, Wi-Fi repeaters attached to the local bus stop and so forth" according to the designers.

In order to further cut power, The Raspberry Pi Foundation is working on special software which will force the processor to background certain tasks and milk longer battery life when deployed in low-power applications.

The biggest advantage of the leaner Model A is price.  The Model A will retail for $25 USD, versus $35 USD for the Model B.  The $25 USD price point is a special one, as it's the cost the project founders originally hoped to target back in 2011, before later bumping the initial unit costs out of practical needs.

Initially the Model A will only be available in Europe (The Raspberry Pi Foundation is based out of Caldecote, UK).  But the company assures, "We’ll lift this restriction very soon so the rest of the world can order too."

Sources: The Raspberry Pi Foundation [1], [2]

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Model B made a great mumble server
By Beavermatic on 2/4/2013 3:32:15 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure about Model A, but my Model B makes a great mumble server even with high amounts of users, and XBMC media center. Also does some nifty other server side stuff too. Runs flawless.

Also looking at the Goosberries, quite a bit more powerful than the pi with better options, for only a bit more, but unfortunately always out of stock...

...and then there's always this:

RE: Model B made a great mumble server
By Argon18 on 2/4/2013 4:22:29 PM , Rating: 2
Amazing how much you can do with these things. That's the power of Linux! The same OS runs on a raspberry pi, a cell phone, a tablet, a desktop pc, an enterprise database server, and the largest supercomputers in the world. Same code base powers all these things. It really is amazing.

RE: Model B made a great mumble server
By B3an on 2/4/2013 10:04:18 PM , Rating: 2
Almost the exact same thing could be said for Windows (minus most super computers), specifically the NT kernel, which i wouldn't be surprised to see in a certain new console later this year as well.

By ResStellarum on 2/5/2013 1:40:32 PM , Rating: 2
Almost the exact same thing could be said for Windows

Err.. No. Windows is so bloated it couldn't possibly run on anything like the Rasp. Hell, Microsoft's newest ARM tablets need a minimum of two gigabytes of ram, and the pro version has 4gig.

The only Microsoft OS that can run on embedded devices is Windows CE, which has little in common with the desktop Windows.

So no, the same can't be said about Windows.

specifically the NT kernel

The problem with that argument is that the only thing that can run atop of the NT kernel is Windows, that same bloated POS we're all accustomed to. Try running the same native apps on Xbox, Windows 7/8, and their phone, then come back and tell me it's the same code base.

By drycrust3 on 2/5/2013 2:15:25 PM , Rating: 2
The big difference between the NT kernel and the Linux kernel is the Linux kernel has been released under the GPL 2 licence, meaning anyone can use it and modify it anyway they like as long as what they subsequently is also released under GPL 2.
On the other hand, the NT kernel is owned by Microsoft, so one would have to get permission from them if you wanted to do anything with it.

RE: Model B made a great mumble server
By Ammohunt on 2/4/2013 6:02:29 PM , Rating: 2
I have mine running Gentoo with a 250GB usb drive going to use it as a remote backup solution simliar to mozy. They are great little machines! I plan on buying more for other server tasks.

RE: Model B made a great mumble server
By mmeytin on 2/5/2013 8:53:44 AM , Rating: 1
Can you point to the software that you use to run remote backup like this? Or is it just a Samba share and you use standard backup solution to dump stuff onto it? Thanks!

By Ammohunt on 2/5/2013 9:17:34 PM , Rating: 2
I am using a shell script i wrote that wraps rdiff-backup.

so, i'm confused here
By elleehswon on 2/4/2013 3:59:46 PM , Rating: 2
The main gripe about the first generation rpi's is that of ram. the 2nd gen has 512mb, but the second gen in europe is going back down to 256mb? WTFX? who cares about how much power it's using? they run off a 700ma power source.

RE: so, i'm confused here
By Argon18 on 2/4/2013 4:17:43 PM , Rating: 2
milliamps matter when you're talking small solar powered installations.

and 256 vs 512 mb ram is irrelevant when you're using a slim embedded OS and application. you really only need 512 if you'll be doing streaming video or other media-center type stuff.

so no, they aren't "going back" to 256 mb. they're offering it an alternative option.

RE: so, i'm confused here
By elleehswon on 2/4/13, Rating: 0
RE: so, i'm confused here
By Argon18 on 2/4/13, Rating: 0
RE: so, i'm confused here
By othercents on 2/4/2013 4:35:15 PM , Rating: 2
Yes it is all based on application. If you are trying to run a video player in your house then the current version with 512mb ram is your better choice especially if you need Ethernet. However if you are looking at an imbedded application the lower ram and lower power requirements are a plus.

Ram was never cut.
By hpglow on 2/4/2013 6:57:06 PM , Rating: 2
When the model A was announced it was to originally have 128MB, and the model B was to have 256MB. At the launch the decision was made to increase the ram of the model A to 256MB. So there was never a cut to the ram. Last year the model B launched with 256MB and later the amount of ram it came equipped with was increased to 512MB. I own both a 256 and 512 model B and I have yet to see ram pegged on either, the current distros are just that lightweight. The ram is not the bottleneck on the R Pi it is the slow processor included.

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