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Topics and trends related to the Java ecosystem with occasional random rants.

  • Sun
    January 25, 2016

The $5 Raspberry Pi

James Connors
Principal Solutions Consultant

Less than a year after the introduction of the Raspberry Pi 2, the Raspberry Pi foundation has once again outdone itself with yet another landmark product launch: the Raspberry Pi Zero.

                      Image taken from https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-zero/

The Raspberry Pi Zero is truly revolutionary.  At 40% the size of the original Pi, it consumes less than half of the power, and can be configured to draw as little as 80mA. It has a faster processor than the original (Java performance graph below), and maintains binary compatibility with previous generations.  And with a list price of $5US, the dream of offering serious computing power to nearly anyone on the planet comes ever closer to reality.  Here are a some of the high level features:

  • 1 GHz ARM11 Broadcom BCM2835 processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • Micro-SD card slot
  • Multiple Linux distributions available plus support for Windows 10
  • Mini-HDMI socket for 1080p video
  • Micro-USB sockets for data and power
  • GPIO header (unpopulated).  Pinout the same as Model A+/B+/2B
  • Composite video header (unpopulated)

At the time of this article's creation (Jan 2016), availability is limited, as the first shipment sold out quite rapidly (no surprise there).  I was able to procure my Pi Zero on the black market.  That is to say I bought it on eBay at a substantial uplift.

In terms of Java performance, the chart that follows compares SPECjvm2008 benchmark results for a Raspberry Pi and a Raspberry Pi Zero utilizing the latest available Oracle JDK (1.8.0_71).  The larger the number, the better, the Pi Zero outperforms the original by 45%.

Another feel-good aspect to this story is that the Pi Zero will be manufactured in Wales.  Here's hoping that in the near future supplies will meet the pent up demand. 

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