9-dollar computer tops two million on Kickstarter

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CHIP is a full Linux system for US $9 (Image: Kickstarter/Next Thing Co.)

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Raspberry Pi has new competition in the ultra-budget computer universe. CHIP purports to be the world's first $9 computer and its run on Kickstarter is coming to a close after raising over $2 million, more than 40 times its crowdfunding goal from nearly 40,000 backers.

CHIP easily fits in your palm and packs a 1GHz processor, 512 MB RAM and 4 GB of storage with Linux loaded and ready to roll. It has built in WiFi, Bluetooth and a composite video port; VGA and HDMI adapters can also be added. LibreOffice and the Chromium browser allow for instant web browsing and productivity just about as quickly as you can get the system connected to a display and means of input.

The key to CHIP's low price is a partnership with China's Allwinner Technology, a chipmaker that has been particularly popular for open-source and budget projects, to drive down component prices through bulk ordering tens of thousands of chips at a time. Given the resounding success of the crowdfunding campaign, it looks like the CHIP team will be able to place those bulk orders.

An interesting optional extra for CHIP is the PocketCHIP, a custom shell that adds a 4.3-inch touchscreen, hard keyboard and 5-hour battery to create a device that looks something like a cross between an old-school Game Boy and a BlackBerry.

The developers say CHIP will be completely open source and is designed to be compatible with all sorts of projects for makers, gamers, sensors and just about anything else. It includes camera sensor support and GPIO breakouts for easier hacking.

Kickstarter backers who got in early should receive their bare bones $9 CHIP as early as December. Backers who plunked down $49 for a PocketCHIP system can expect them to ship in May, 2016. The "kernel hacker" package that includes 5 pre-release "alpha model" CHIPs and a PocketCHIP should ship this September.

Watch the full pitch video below.

Source: Kickstarter

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