The Raspberry Pi Foundation has opened its first Raspberry Pi store in Cambridge.
The lovable entry-level learning computer, which can be used to build everything from robots to weather balloons, miniature servers to automated pet-feeders, will have a physical high-street presence for the first time.
Visitors to the shop can access the various versions of Raspberry Pi, Pi accessories, souvenirs and books, in addition to advice on new projects.
The best-selling British computer of all time, the Raspberry Pi offers an adorable 1.4 GHz processor and 1GB of RAM which would have represented the peak of consumer computing power in the late 1990s.
Such tiny computers are of course meant to be educational (and fun) rather than serious work devices, although the internet is full of ingenious uses for the low-cost, minimalist hardware which may prove to have greater use under an Internet of Things (IoT) style future of connected devices.
The shop is estimated to have taken £10k during it’s first three days of trading, and the Foundation believes the cult-status of the Pi will ensure ongoing interest from young and old alike.
ASUS have announced their latest new desktop computer, the tiny ASUS Vivo Stick: a PC little bigger than a pocket highlighter.
Smaller businesses take note: it’s easy to imagine commercial clients making good use of such practical technology. At under 14cm long, the tiny Vivo stick resembles a USB memory stick and can be easily moved between hot-desks by mobile employees, or into premises too small for even the smallest of small-form desktop PC towers.
The Vivo Stick will run Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system via an Intel Cherry Trail Atom Processor, and can be plugged directly into any screen with an HDMI port. In addition to a micro USB port for power, Wi-fi and Bluetooth are combined with 2 spare USB ports and an audio socket to give the Stick the basic connections needed for everyday external devices: a mouse, keyboard and speakers.
Don’t expect performance miracles at this stage. Marginally superior to Intel’s lacklustre ‘ComputeStick’ offering back in April – the Vivo Stick incorporates only 2GB of memory and 32GB eMMC flash storage, although both Asus and Intel must correctly suspect that many users will find this more than sufficient for ordinary work tasks – email, word processing and other admin.
The low price will also help ensure market interest. Retailing at around only $129 in the US (around £85) ASUS’ Vivo Stick will likely be a cost-effective and portable option for entry-level personal computing, new startups, small businesses, and even presents a competitively priced alternative for computer labs and classrooms in the education market – any sector needing to equip users without ‘fixed’ workstations for basic IT needs.
Intel have announced the release of their new Skylake processors – their sixth generation of processor chips using multiple cores to combine greater processing power with lower energy consumption.
The new chips will boast around a 60% performance increase for a standard PC, with overclocking capabilities and other features clearly aimed at capturing the higher end of the gaming market and similar. There are also more rudimentary improvements behind the scenes: for example supporting multiple 4k displays, and optimising for new connections expected on the next generation of laptops, including USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3.
Skylake’s greatest asset however will be remarkably more efficient power-use. Intel believe superior energy efficiency (and less overheating) will allow more devices to operate without the need for internal fans, saving device weight, size, manufacturing costs, environmental costs, maintenance on moving parts, and prices for consumers. Their smaller models, Core m3, m5 and m7, will also help corner the market on more portable devices, saving weight and critical battery life in the tablets and smartphones of the future.
Intel must realise their market is changing and that it will be harder to keep selling new processors. Both Microsoft and Apple now offer constant upgrades to their Windows 10 and OS X Yosemite operating systems via free downloads – such that users are no longer forced to buy a new computer or package when they wish to upgrade. The IDC estimated last Novemberthat new tablet sales were also slower than the industry expected, as users hold on to older, well-built devices longer than expected rather than purchasing newer models. Hard drive capacities, in devices of all sizes, will only increase.
This all leaves Intel with a sales challenge – how to sell computer hardware to a world that doesn’t necessarily need or covet new devices as regularly? Skylake must provide new opportunities to manufacturers to push the boundaries of what can be achieved with a better chip to drive fresh sales across the industry.
Expect to see Skylake processors become available by the end of 2015, with the PC market picking up the range fully in the New Year.