$25 Raspberry Pi computer handles 1080p video, coming soon

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It's been a while since we've heard any major news about the pocket-sized Raspberry Pi computer, but according to a recent BBC report, the barebones rig is well on its way to production. The PC isn't much larger than a typical USB drive and it'll come in two configurations: Model A will be $25 with 128MB of RAM and no network connectivity while the $35 Model B has 256MB of RAM and Ethernet. Both run Debian or Fedora and have a 700MHz ARM11 SoC with support for OpenGL ES 2.0 and 1080p30 H.264 video playback.

It was reported last month that Ubuntu isn't supported but the foundation is working with developers to make that happen. Unless something has changed from earlier prototypes, the production units will likely have one USB port, a flash card slot, HDMI and audio outputs, as well as various I/O headers for a serial port and more. The total package measures 85.60mm x 53.98mm x 20mm, weighs 40g and is brought to life with a 5V power supply. If all goes well, the Raspberry Pi will enter mass production in the coming weeks.

Although its utility spans many industries, the device was originally designed for academic purposes. The Raspberry Pi Foundation built its first prototype in 2006 hoping to spur interest in Computer Science. The organization's about us page explains that, while working at Cambridge University, trustee Eben Upton noticed a decrease in technological aptitude over the previous decade. In the 1990s, prospective students were often hobbyist programmers, whereas recent applications are only experienced with Web design -- if that.

Eben and his colleagues believe a part of that stems from the fact that modern PCs have replaced Amigas, Commodore 64s and other rudimentary systems earlier generations learned to program on. The Raspberry Pi will offer an affordable platform to tinker with. Developing nations are especially interested in the device for schools, hospitals, museums and other fields that could benefit from a low-cost computer. The machine also has potential uses in DIY robotics, vehicle entertainment systems and other computing projects.

"We don't claim to have all the answers. We don't think that the Raspberry Pi is a fix to all of the world's computing issues; we do believe that we can be a catalyst. We want to see cheap, accessible, programmable computers everywhere; we actively encourage other companies to clone what we're doing. We want to break the paradigm where without spending hundreds of pounds on a PC, families can't use the Internet. We want owning a truly personal computer to be normal for children," says the foundation's website.

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