Raspberry Pi aims to be an ultra low cost single board computer for education. While it’s still in preproduction, it cost about $25 and come with 700 Mhz ARM 11 chip with 256 MB of ram, a USB 2.0 port, HDMI with 1080p30 H.264 decompression, an SD slot, ethernet, and general I/O lines, running Linux, and packaged on a board the size of a credit card.
It’s a very interesting platform. I could see replacing my dad’s MiniITX based weather station with one, or perhaps using it for a some other homebrew system.
Of course, this isn’t the only tiny Linux system out there. Gumstix was the first I heard of, and was the platform of choice for bluetooth sniper rifle. Then there was the wall warts, like the SheevaPlug and the GuruPlug, it’s kind of hard to figure out where to actually order those, whether they’re worth the $99. The closest thing to the RaspberryPi, is Texas Instrument and DigiKey’s BeagleBoard. The BeagleBoard is here today, and is a bit beefier with a 1+ GHz ARM chip, but also much more expensive ($89 for the BeagleBone, $135 for the latest board.) Personally, I wouldn’t pay $100 for an embedded system for just hacking around on. If I was more into hardware development and had an application I knew needed the extra speed, them sure maybe, but I just can’t think of any that I would want to make right now.