The Raspberry Pi Needs a Roadmap
As the tiny $25/$35 Linux computer dubbed Raspberry Pi continues to spawn imaginative concepts, including Pi-based supercomputers and home security systems, it is proving that basic hardware combined with Linux can usher in great ideas. That has caused some to wonder what the future of the Pi is. Will it appear in upgraded versions that allow for ever more sophisticated projects based on it?
According to Eben Upton, founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, in an interview with TuxRadar, there is no such upgrade path in the works. In fact, Upton sounds downright shocked by the speedy success of the Raspberry Pi.
In the TuxRadar piece, Upton says:
"We have no room for additional RAM on the device at the moment. We’ve established that that’s as much RAM as we’re ever going to have - we have no ability to expand the RAM because that’s all the SoC (system on a chip) can talk to. We have no ability to increase the amount of processing power because that’s the amount of processing power the SoC has got. We don’t really have a hardware roadmap."
To be fair, Upton does add this: "I think it would be really sad, and probably fatal for us, if we were still shipping the same Raspberry Pi in 2016, say."
The team behind Raspberry Pi should fix this promptly. Raspberry Pi has emerged as nothing less than the true solution that players like the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) folks were looking for when they proposed creating sub-$100 computers. Raspberry Pis are making it into school systems in parts of the world where kids don't have computers, and there is even now a supercomputer consisting of many Pi devices lashed together with Lego pieces.
There needs to be a logical upgrade path for these devices, and it sounds like Upton's team needs help cooking one up. The fact that there is no room on the Pi for more RAM should not be a limitation. Modular hardware designs could provide the answer to that problem.
Google has purchased Raspberry Pi devices and distributed them to U.K. schools. It would be good to see Google or possibly a hardware company help create a future for Raspberry Pi, which would start with a hardware roadmap.