Some months ago, you might have previously read about the $9 C.H.I.P, world’s cheapest computer, that was made by a company called Next Thing. Well, last week, C.H.I.P lost that title to the Raspberry Pi Zero, the new cheapest computer in the world.
Last week, the latest issue of a computer magazine known as The MagPi was released, and as a world’s first, this magazine comes with a free pc—literally stuck to the cover. It is the latest Raspberry Pi release, weighing only 9 grams, known as Pi Zero. It also goes on sale world wide for only $5.
Pi Zero is a tiny gadget and contains the first generation Raspberry Pi’s BCM2835 chip, safely overclocked to 1GHz. Pi Zero packs the same GPU as the regular Raspberry Pi, and comes with 512MB RAM. It runs Linux, and runs all the applications and programs any other Pi will—including Python, Sonic Pi, Java, an internet browser, and way more. You can run a media center, use if for teaching programming, or embed it in a project—and it fits in your palm! The specs of the previous record holder, the CHIP were also similar: It had a 1GHz Allwinner R8 Cortex A8 processor with a built-in Mali400 GPU, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of flash storage [missing in the Pi Zero]. It additionally encompasses a micro USB port, composite headphone/mic port, Wifi and Bluetooth [also not present natively in the Pi Zero].
How to get the cheapest computer?
USA: The December issue of The MagPi shall be out soon in Barnes & Noble.
Rest of the world: You can purchase the magazine on-line from the Raspberry Pi swag store or order a subscription. Alternatively, the Pi Zero itself is available for purchase from the usual distributors—element14 and RS Components—in addition to the swag store and others.
So, is it a complete PC?
First, have a look at Raspberry Pi Zero, compared to a Micro SD card:
The answer is no, you can say it’s the CPU. You will need the following to be able to run it as a complete system [just like the CHIP, though it didn’t require the Micro SD because of built in flash storage]
- An HDMI enabled monitor
- Mini HDMI to HDMI adapter or cable
- A Micro SD card loaded with NOOBS or Raspbian
- Micro USB adapter
- Micro USB power cable
- USB mouse & keyboard
Alternatively, you may prepare your Micro SD card utilizing a regular Raspberry Pi, set your code to run on boot, stick your card into the Zero, and as soon as it has power, your program will run. A good way to deploy code to an embedded project.
You can even connect to the Zero through VNC or SSH over wired or Wi-Fi connection and control it from another pc.
You can do countless projects with the Pi Zero. The sky is the limit. Actually, that may not be true. People like Dave Akerman, have sent the Pi’s out of the sky as well. Anyways, most projects which have been carried out with a Raspberry Pi could be performed with a Zero (some requiring the GPIO pin header), however what other projects can be done with the Zero that make use of its compact and discreet form factor? Here are some ideas from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Visit them for more details.
- Wearables: Zero tech glove
- Paintables: Zero conductive paint circuits
- Drive-ables: Zero robot
Add-ons for the Zero?
There aren’t any out yet, as it is a brand new model, however the Raspberry Pi community is a speedy and agile one. Although present add-on boards and HATs should work with the Zero (with a pin header soldered on), we are certain to see some expansion (or reduction, if you like) in the range of accessories out there—maybe a Zero-sized HAT-like standard will come up and we may see a bunch of new and exciting miniature add-on boards, such as LED boards and motor controllers perfectly sitting aboard the Zero with the mounting holes in the corners. You can see below for some existing Add-ons that have been doing well for the Raspberry Pi.