Google has a taste of Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is the sub-£22 PC that this week got a boost from internet giant Google, which will fund the distribution of 15,000 free units to schools around the UK.
The plan follows news that the company has already sold 1m Raspberry Pi units in less than a year on sale. Google hopes the device can arrest the decline in students taking computer science at university level. But what exactly is a Raspberry Pi, and how does it plan on revolutionising the way children learn about computing?

■ When was it conceived?
A group of academics at Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory came up with the idea of a coding-focused machine in 2006. The idea was to plug the gap left by the demise of machines like the Amiga, BBC Micro, Spectrum ZX and Commodore 64 that encouraged users to learn basic coding.

■ What is it?
The Raspberry Pi Model B is a PC the size of a credit card that allows you to attach a keyboard and monitor. It has 512MB RAM, two USB ports and an ethernet port. It can be used to run basic functions like spreadsheets, text files and games, as well as playing high definition video. Crucially, it requires users to use basic coding, making it a good learning tool.

■ How powerful is it?
Its graphics are about as powerful as the first Xbox – which was a pretty heavy-duty console that still looks good today – although overall performance is at about the level of high-end PCs from the late 1990s. It uses a Broadcom BCM2835 system on a chip with an ARM11 microprocessor.