Offering six times more power and twice the memory of the original Raspberry Pi model B, the upgraded version of the popular credit-card sized computer has no smaller aspirations than to replace PC computers in households, said Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton.
Having sold 9,000 units in the first hour after its launch on the morning of 2 February, Raspberry Pi 2, manufactured by RS Components, represents the first major upgrade of the unit that revolutionised the way computing is being taught at British schools.
“We would like people to actually start using it as their regular computer,” Upton said. “This is a PC replacement. Not for everybody, not for people who want to play computer games and run 3D graphic packages but for people who just want to surf the web and edit word documents, I don’t see any reason why they can’t use Raspberry Pi.”
Selling for £22.85, only ten pence more than the earlier iteration, the computer featuring the Broadcom BCM2836 application processor with a 800MHz ARM Cortex-A7 quad-core CPU, promises to unlock new potential for application in the nascent Internet of Things sector.
“Windows 10 has released a development module for the Internet of Things which has a version that can run on Raspberry Pi,” said Glenn Jarrett, global head of marketing at RS Components. “All of the sudden the world of mass market computing becomes possible for the Raspberry Pi platform with the increased performance.”
More than two years in the making, Raspberry Pi 2 matches in terms of processing power the most powerful smartphones in the market, Jarrett said.
However, despite having been traditionally a huge hit among hobbyists, hackers, geeks and embedded engineers, the product’s number one target customer base remains among school children eager to understand the magic behind computers.
“We just want a lot of children to learn programming and we think that the best way to getting there is to get a tool into their hands that they can program with and the best way to get that tool into their hands is to make that tool useful,” said Upton.
RS Components said the first generation model will remain on sale, although the price may eventual lower.
“For the people who are buying hundreds or thousands of Raspberry Pis for embedded applications, they will probably want to stay with the design they have for the existing Pi,” said Jarrett.
“Not much needs to change for the new Pi but if they don’t need to move to it, they may well enjoy the price differential. As the new second generation Raspberry Pi starts coming in, the price of the older Raspberry Pi may reduce over time to make it slightly more attractive.”
The companies expect both devices will stay in the market for as long as there is customer interest.
“I think we will phase out the first generation when people will stop wanting it,” Upton said. “I think a lot of design customers will want the first generation product. But maybe overtime, in one or two years, we may phase out.”
RS Components said they are currently selling about 100,000 first generation Raspberry Pis a month. The product virtually stormed to the market in February 2012 with demand in the first days afte launch exceeding available supply more than a hundred times.
In November last year, Raspberry Pi launcedh its Astro Pi project giving schoolchildren from across the UK the opportunity to design simple experiments to be run at the International Space Station by British astronaut Tim Peake.