Arm acquires minority stake in single-board computer maker Raspberry Pi

Shawn Knight

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What just happened? Arm Holdings has acquired a minority stake in single-board computer market Raspberry Pi. The investment extends a long-running partnership that started in 2008, roughly four years before the first Raspberry Pi launched.

Founder Ebon Upton, if you recall, started working on what would eventually become Raspberry Pi in 2006. The first Pi computer went on sale in February 2012 for $35 and promptly sold out.

Paul Williamson, SVP and GM of the Internet of Things division at Arm, said the two share a vision of making computing accessible to all by lowering barriers to innovation, such that anyone, anywhere can learn and create new IoT solutions. Upton said using ARM technology as the foundation for current and future products offers them access to the performance, efficiency, and software ecosystem they need.

Financial terms of the investment were not shared, nor do we know the size of the stake Arm is purchasing.

This isn't the first time Raspberry Pi has sold off shares in its venture. Back in April, Sony Semiconductor Solutions invested an undisclosed sum in Raspberry Pi. Upton at the time said Sony bought in at a $500 million valuation.

Raspberry Pi struggled during the pandemic as a result of the global chip shortage, but seems to mostly be back on track as 2023 winds down. In September, the outfit started accepting pre-orders for a new board that originally wasn't expected to arrive until next year.

The Raspberry Pi 5 features a 2.4 GHz quad-core, 64-bit Arm Cortex-A76 processor that's paired with a VideoCore VII GPU, which supports OpenGL ES 3.1 and Vulkan 1.2. The combo is good for a 2-3x CPU speed improvement and twice the GPU performance compared to its predecessor, and there's also a lot more I/O bandwidth. The Pi 5 is capable of driving two 4K60 displays simultaneously over HDMI and additionally supports dual-band 802.11 ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0.

Pricing starts at $60 for a model with 4 GB, but good luck finding any in stock.

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I suspect a part of the reason for the investment is to keep Raspberry Pi foundation products ARM-based, now that they are increasingly designing their own silicon rather than just exclusively using bargain-bin old ARM SoC's.

Having Raspberry Pi foundation go Risc-V wouldn't hurt much from a revenue perspective but it would hurt reputationally, given the influence it has in the maker-market. Hard to do that though when you are part-owned by Arm.
 
I suspect a part of the reason for the investment is to keep Raspberry Pi foundation products ARM-based, now that they are increasingly designing their own silicon rather than just exclusively using bargain-bin old ARM SoC's.

Having Raspberry Pi foundation go Risc-V wouldn't hurt much from a revenue perspective but it would hurt reputationally, given the influence it has in the maker-market. Hard to do that though when you are part-owned by Arm.
I do not think they will be able to influence any decision with a minority stake.
 
I do not think they will be able to influence any decision with a minority stake.
Being a stakeholder, ARM is more interested in the success of Raspberry Pi, and if they can facilitate getting the chips needed for the device, they're already influencing decisions on what to use or not.
 
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