Design Con 2015

Taking royalties in Lego!

October 19, 2012

colin.holland-October 19, 2012

Yesterday at a Young Professionals' Event at the IET in London, Eben Upton, co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation and an SoC architect at Broadcom, gave a talk on inspiring future generations with open hardware.

Upton gave a broad overview of the history and developments and some plans for the future.  While initial production volumes of the Raspberry Pi were made in China, production is now also started at the Sony plant in Bridgend, Wales. "It turns out it is as cheap to manufacture it in Bridgend as China, which was an enormous surprise to me." Currently 2,500 a day are rolling off the production line in Wales, and over 100,000 are currently being shipped a month. Upton expects to break the million shipping barrier before the anniversary of the launch on February 29, 2013.

One thing that Upton did reveal is that efforts are near completion to make the software used on the Raspberry Pi completely open source. "We really hope that we can get rid of the closed-source elements of the software very, very soon. That will make us the first Arm-based SoC/multimedia platform based completely on fully open-source software."

Upton confirmed one thing during the talk that I suspected would happen with the Pi--that the community would be active in providing add-ons for the board. But exactly how active they would be  surprised me. A 12-year-old girl called Biz made an enclosure for the board out of Lego. She initially just provided instructions to Raspberry Pi, but a now a commercial company that specializes in Lego, the Daily Brick, has produced a kit. According to Upton, Biz has opted to take royalties on the design as Lego and could now have one of the largest private collections!

Earlier in the week element14 launched a new 512MB version of the board version of the credit-card-sized computer. Upton explained that falling DRAM prices had enabled it to be produced for the same price as the earlier 256MB version, which would be phased out.

Visit The IET website to view the full 90-minute presentation and Q&A session.

Colin Holland is editorial director of Embedded.com.

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