Slice of Pi gets even cheaper

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has made some sacrifices for size and cost, but the Zero still represents great bang for buck value

It's now over three years since the first cheap-as-chips Raspberry Pi project boards started shipping, opening the door to a torrent of DIY electronics projects ranging from robot bartenders to basic smartphones to touchscreen computers. There have been numerous attempts to steal Pi's budget thunder of late though, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation has responded with a new addition called the Pi Zero, which comes with a US$5 price tag.

The Foundation says that, in recognition that even the $20 to $35 cost of entry to the Pi world of electronics projects can be beyond the means of some would-be tinkerers, it began working on a cheaper board earlier this year. That quest has resulted in the "Made in Wales" Raspberry Pi Zero, which is described as a "full-fledged member of the Raspberry Pi family."

So what can micro-budget hackers expect for their $5? A Broadcom BCM2835 application processor with a 1 GHz ARM11 core provides the brains of the new 65 x 30 x 5 mm (2.56 x 1.18 x 0.19 in) development board, backed up by 512 MB of LPDDR2 SDRAM. Storage comes in the shape of a microSD card slot.

Given its teeny dimensions, some I/O connectivity has been sacrificed. Gone are the Ethernet and full-sized USB ports of the model B+, but there is a mini-HDMI port for 1080p video output at up to 60 frames per second, two micro-USB ports for data and power and an unpopulated 40-pin GPIO header for hooking up to DIY electronics projects.

The Zero runs the Raspbian Linux-based operating platform and is available for shipping now.

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