David Braben is a very well-known game developer who runs the UK development studio Frontier Developments, but is just as well known for being the co-developer of Elite.
Over his career his studio has brought us the Rollercoaster Tycoon series, Thrillville, Lost Winds, and most recently Kinectimals. In the background, however, Braben has been trying to tackle another problem: getting programming and general learning of how computers work back into schools.
Braben argues that education since we entered the 2000s has turned towards ICT which teaches useful skills such as writing documents in a word processor, how to create presentations, and basic computer use skills. But that has replaced more computer science-like skills such as basic programming and understanding the architecture and hardware contained in a computer.
His solution is not to create his own course, but instead to manufacture a very low cost PC that can be given to kids for free and courses built up around their use. When we say low cost, we mean so low even the OLPC would be impressed.
Braben has developed a tiny USB stick PC that has a HDMI port in one end and a USB port on the other. You plug it into a HDMI socket and then connect a keyboard via the USB port giving you a fully functioning machine running a version of Linux. The cost? $25.
The hardware being offered is no slouch either. It uses a 700MHz ARM11 processor coupled with 128MB of RAM and runs OpenGL ES 2.0 allowing for decent graphics performance with 1080p output confirmed. Storage is catered for by an SD card slot. It also looks as though modules can be attached such as the 12MP camera seen in the image above.
We can expect it to run a range of Linux distributions, but it looks like Ubuntu may be the distro it ships with. That means it will handle web browsing, run office applications, and give the user a fully functional computer to play with as soon as it’s plugged in. All that and it can be carried in your pocket or on a key chain.
This tiny, cheap PC is going to be distributed through a new charitable foundation called the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It will also promote computer science studies in schools.
As for when the Raspberry Pi device will become available, Braben says he hopes to be distributing it within the next 12 months.
geek.com 5 May 2011