The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card-sized single-board computer developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with the intention of promoting the teaching of basic computer science in schools. It is based on the Broadcom BCM2835 system on a chip (SoC) which includes an ARM11 700MHz processor. The Raspberry Pi is capable of running Linux and there a number of distributions created and maintained by its active community.
With the addition of a few standard peripherals the user can create a desktop PC running Linux with this tiny device.
While the Raspberry Pi might seem appealing at first to embed in a product, a number of factors should be considered beforehand. These include -
- GPIO requirements:
- The Pi has a limited number of GPIO's available for use.
- Size - While the Pi is small, smaller solutions exist
- Availability - Although very popular now, there is no guarantee it will be available in its current form in 5 years from now.
Other options are available when considering building an embedded computer in to a product.
"Computer on Module" or COM is one type of option. These devices are complete embedded computers on a single PCB, with similar dimensions to a laptop memory module (SODIMM). COM modules are designed to plug into a main PCB and normally cannot be used alone.
Vendors of these COM modules have added extra value by providing pre-configured operating systems, including Linux, Windows Embedded Compact and Android.
COM modules have been designed for commercial use, and as such have a product roadmap which can ensure future availability.