Computers are getting smaller and smaller, but a new device designed by researchers at Cambridge University is on another level. The breakthrough system may revolutionize the way students earning a computer science degree think about the industry.
The Raspberry Pi - just the size of a pack of cards - is powerful enough to run full-scale applications in high-definition or Blu-ray quality. Consumers who buy the computer may have sticker shock over its price tag: $25.
“Our dream is that the Raspberry Pi gets to a large number of schoolchildren and that a fraction of them learn how to program. They will become the next generation of innovators who will stimulate the economy,” he said.
The group that invented the product, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, promotes the study of computer science and related topics with a focus on making learning more fun.
The world's first computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, weighed about 27 tons and was about 8.5-by-3-by-80 feet for a sprawling 680 square feet. It had nearly 17,500 vacuum tubes, 7,200 crystal diodes, 1,500 relays, 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitators and about 5 million hand-soldered joints.
In comparison, the Raspberry Pi has a 700Mhz Arm processor and up to 256 megabytes of flash memory. The product is so different than much of what's currently on the market that the waiting list for it is 10,000 people long. Robert Mullins - co-founder and lecturer at Cambridge University's computer science department - told the Wall Street Journal that researchers aim for the computer to hit the market in mid-2012.
"We have seen a decline in the number of people wanting to do a degree in computer science,” Mullins told the newspaper. "So many people are afraid of their computers. We don’t want people to be a slave to them, we want them to understand them - and more importantly have fun."
Electronic devices continue to shrink before our eyes. In September, Hammacher Schlemmer began selling what it said is the world's smallest camera. At 1.125 inches long, 1 inch wide and 1.062 inches deep, the 2-megapixel camera is small enough to rest on a finger tip and sells for $100.
However, some spy cameras - such as the Super Small Spy Digital DC DV - say they are smaller. That camera has a volume of 1.102 cubic inches, PCWorld said.