Interview with Eben at the ARM TechCon 2011

Here’s a very in-depth interview with Eben about the project from the ARM TechCon 2011, which was filmed yesterday. It’s 12 minutes long, and it answers a lot of questions you might have about the project. We are particularly charmed by the interviewer, who initially thinks the project is called Raspberry Pee.

Thanks to for the video.


asb avatar

Nice work calling it a GNU/Linux box on the poster. Even I’m not disciplined enough to stick to that naming all the time. I don’t have sound right now, but the machine-generated captions are as hilarious as ever. “Also this is something that should be uh… with the citadel’s roast pork.” Well said Eben, well said.

Kodess avatar

Pee is the way we say Pi in my native language….

liz avatar

Aha! I think the interviewer was Danish (it’s also pronounced Pee there).

I’m reminded of Marie Lloyd: She sits among the cabbages and peas.

Pieter avatar

Good old charbax of and :-)
He’s indeed from Denmark.

Montekuri avatar

Pee is the way we would pronounce here in Brazil too (refering to the greek letter = π ).
And, to everyone still asking, in the board is written “lunching in november 2011”. Just wait, guys. Wait….

liz avatar

Eben has a bit to say about that in the interview (hint: we think it’ll be December, not November).

kme avatar

Every continental European language I know of pronounce the Greek letter pi as “pee” with a short “ee” sound. “Pie” is something you eat…

SpaceHobo avatar

Most importantly, “pee” is how it is pronounced in GREEK. It’s their letter, people. I’d trust them on pronunciation!

DaVince avatar

No matter what, during the evolution of the English language, you now pronounce it like “pie” in English. There’s many, many words that have altered pronunciation to better accommodate the language they’re spoken in.

Montekuri avatar

Ops. Launching, not “lunching’

Pikimus avatar

Congratulations! This is a great project and I’m confident that you’ll exceed your expectations.
I look forward to make myself a nice Christmas present!
Best regards,

MmmPi avatar

Strangely its quite exciting just seeing interaction with a desktop environment. Probably because I’ve been using SheevaPlug type devices that lack video. Plus I can even hear Eben this time!

pauldow avatar

If it’s called Raspberry Pee, then I’ve got a completely different logo design idea. ;-)

The display booth sure has improved since Maker Faire.

David avatar

why hdmi I have like 5 or six VGA monitors laying around, but only one that supports DVI (I use an adapter to go vga)

David avatar

sorry I meant I use an adapter to go HDMI

pauldow avatar

There’s a lengthy thread in the forum on this topic
To summarize, the Broadcom processor natively supports HDMI. Converting to VGA on the board would be too expensive.

shaurz avatar

True but the video quality will be atrocious.

burak avatar

Well, you could also use a HDMI to VGA converter. There are some that are really not that expensive. Also thanks to the widescreen FullHD boom you can get 4:3 DVI monitors quite cheaply from ebay.

shaurz avatar

I guess that will only happen if Broadcom make an equivalent SoC with VGA support for the same price.

liz avatar

We’ve worked out that we can do VGA, but it’ll be for a later model. And honestly, we’ve so much work on our hands at the moment that whenever anybody so much as mentions later models to us we find ourselves sticking our fingers in our ears and saying LALALALA. So don’t expect it any time soon, but be aware it’s on our radar.

RobinJ avatar

Dang! I really hoepd it would by finished by half november :p
Seems to run quite a bit slower than I’d hoped for though… The file manager and webbrowser took quite a while to start. Or is that just because of the large screen resolution?

asb avatar

As mentioned in the video, SD card access speed can be a bottleneck and the X drivers are currently unoptimised. There’s definitely lots of interesting work to do in terms of squeezing out maximum performance from the hardware.

liz avatar

Indeed: and there’s work being done on that at the moment. I’d expect to see the community working on optimisations once we’re out the door, too.

Adrian avatar

As Eben mentions in the video, lots of people using the Alpha boards are going to be using USB external drives or NFS (network storage) to push data to the pi. They are both a lot faster options. I’m guessing he stuck to the SD card to demonstrate the potential simplicity. It’s just that it comes with a cost.

It will be interesting to see what things people come up with to add software etc, but have it on alternative storage. For instance, having an SD driven device, that has some apps and files stored on NFS, but can be used outside that network.

Puppy linux actually had some interesting similar tools, to do with storing changes to the filesystem on various medias, including using sessions on CDs and DVDs, and loading programs and files, based on the available ramspace of the machine. IE if you had more RAM, you could access older writes than if you had less, assuming RAM was limiting the filespace.

Lobster avatar

Multi-session is something Puppy can do.
The Parm (Puppy ARM) project is gathering support :)

Tim avatar

That is a 25$ piece of crap.

liz avatar

Oooo-kay. Care to enlarge?

Toad King avatar

My guess is from his name and website he’s more of a fan of other types of fruit. ;D

liz avatar

I see no reason not to have a happy commingling of fruits. (I’m typing this on a Mac.) I do understand that if swanky aluminium cases and so forth are your thing, Raspberry Pi might not be up your street – but if that’s the case, you’re not the person we’re making the device for.

Sneazy avatar

Why does he have to give other fruit fans a bad name!?

Adrian avatar

Because he’s an angry 12 year old? I mean, you’d have to be to fail to grasp the entire point (not to mention applications) of this project. My only gripe is that I’m not actively involved in this project, it’s awesome.

As for aluminium cases, first thing I’m planning is to install blender, and design a case to print at shapeways for the raspberry pi. Print it in alumide, and stick the raspberry pi logo on top (assuming you are allowed to do that).

noteng avatar

thanks raspberry pi team for hard working.

bnolsen avatar

The answer to the slow window moving and slow resize is to use wireframe moving and resizing. I see no good reason to do these operations opaque, that feature IMHO just burns cpu/gpu cycles for some unnecessary eye candy.

liz avatar

There’s work being done at a few of the distros to minimise that problem on the Raspberry Pi at the moment, although Eben didn’t have a sample to take with him to the TechCon. We hope to ship with at least one of them finished, but if they’re not ready in time, you’ll be able to download torrents here when they’re done.

Elad Alfassa avatar

I can’t wait to get one of these!
Will you ship worldwide from the start?

liz avatar

We will, yes.

bnolsen avatar

I hope to soon see an SDHC-CARD compatibility matrix with the different speed cards tested. And maybe even some numbers on compressed filesystem throughput as well. I have one of the early acer aspire one’s with the crappy SSD and an SDHC card and IO operations definitely are *not* pretty on that.

ffuentes avatar

Yeah, when I think on Raspberry Pi, I say in my mind “raspberry pee” because I’m hispanophone. Now I think it’s hilarious but only in English xD

ghed fin avatar

Hello guys. Its almost November. Is there no Finalized hardware pics available yet? No pics inside the factory or behind the scenes?? Whats the current eta? Give us something guys. Hope this isn’t more vaporware…

liz avatar

Watch the video if you want to learn more about release dates.

ghed fin avatar

Thanks liz. Any chance of production photos or final board photos being released?. Keep up the great work… this has the potential to change history.

liz avatar

Absolutely – you’ll see them here as soon as we’ve got them. (We have parts, but we’re not starting production until the PCB design is *completely* optimised. Imagine a town-sized SuDoku puzzle, and you’ll have a feel for what we’re dealing with at the moment.)

DC avatar

Looks fantastic!! I can’t wait to get my hands on one. Keep up the great work!

clive avatar

I like that ‘Raspi’ is Finnish (sadly not Danish) for ‘rasp’ – a tool for shaping and creating stuff. Though in Italian it means “stalks”, which is rubbish. Unless they are brambles.

As for Tim, don’t blame the poor mite. It’s understandable that he fears a computer that costs half the price of a cover for his.

cklam12345 avatar

Thanks Eben for introducing $25 PC for kids at Arm Techcon today. Our School will definitely need more of this for getting our Kids to get into Programming and Hardware Engineering. With this price points, more parents can look forward to getting kids into mingle with Real Engineering career rather than playing Angry birds or Social Mediaing with their peers all days!!!!

Thanks The Team for pulling this off!!!! I really appreciated it.

CK lam

Pikimus avatar

I was thinking that in a future release a WiFi chip would be nice to have if it is feasible.
Keep up the good work!

Eric avatar

Eben had mentioned running the root filesystem on the SD card was painfully slow. Is that just from a bootup standpoint or are their greater performance concerns involved? When I get my hands on one of these, I plan on making a custom embedded Fedora image that will be quite stripped down and optimized for certain non desktop, command line only applications I’d like to run on it (mostly network facing), so the IO performance of the SD card is something I would like to hear more about. Theoretically if I can strip it down to where everything invoked at boot is running in memory, the SD card really doesn’t seem to be a huge performance tradeoff because it severely minimizes any activity going to swap. The only other issue I would have is needing to interface with files as part of a webserver.

Scribe avatar

On-top of SD being slow there’s some serious kernel performance issues with SD relating to seek times, I own a Pandaboard and had to scrap the GUI it was so slow at loading things (the cpu itself and the acceleration was ace).

I would definitely recommend a USB drive. If a fast flash pen is too costly plonk a laptop hard disk in an enclosure.

Scribe avatar

Adding to this I don’t yet know if the kernel issues have been solved, hopefully by working closely with the fedora guys the Pi wont suffer these issues.

You can see examples of Panda-board figures here:

Eric avatar

I see what you mean. Yikes, crazy seek speeds :-( The 644 I could probably live with, because what I’m doing is not very IO intensive on the drive, no desktop to run either. The high figures in that test are very concerning though.

Andris avatar

Will there be maximum order quantity limit at launch?

liz avatar

Possibly (probably), but we haven’t set anything in stone yet.

Banibrata Dutta avatar

USB drive is certainly the preferred option, but NFS is usually not an option for either the maker community, or the student community (possibly outside school).

Now only if we could have a 640×480 (or even 480×320) display with touchscreen on this one, at sub $50 — I can think of a million applications :-) [of course, who can’t].

At these kinds of volumes, would be great if an optional (and cheap) integrated display (@ VGA resolutions) would be great. I believe the sub $50 would really be achievable.

Banibrata Dutta avatar

Um… sorry. That comment was supposed to be a reply to an earlier comment regarding SD-Card performance. The WP comment plugin seems to be lot smarter than me, and has a mind of it’s own :-)

BTW, regarding shipping WW and order limits, given the atrocious shipping costs to much of the world (barring pan-europe and north-america), would be great if the limit is set to at-least 3 units, to have a fair spread of the shipping cost.

With 3 units, you can try lot of maker-things, requiring multiple nodes. Alternatively, you guys could do a reverse-telescopic pricing, i.e. higher price for higher quantity. This should keep the ebay-resellers at bay.

1 unit = $25 ea
2 units = $30 ea
3 units = $35 ea

s.t. for hoarders, it loses economic sense, and only serious hackers, enthusiasts buy it in higher quantity than 1.

liz avatar

We’re looking at using distributors with warehousing in their home countries, so hopefully you won’t have a postage problem.

Banibrata Dutta avatar

@liz, for some reason the ‘Reply’ button doesn’t feature on your last reply, so hopefully you’d see this one.

The thing with distributor is that the “price markup” added by distributor varies so widely between say distributors in the US and say name-sake distributors in India, and it has little to do with the distribution cost. I won’t be surprised if the $25 Raspberry retailed in US for $25-$30, and in India for $50-$70. We’ve seen that happen other marker wares like mini2440 (Samsung S3C2440) – ARM9 based board, Beagleboard, Beagleboard-xM, IGEPv2’s, Pandaboard etc. Which is why, many people land up ordering directly from overseas distributors, and even including shipping + customs, it is cheaper (and often quicker) to order international, than from a local distributor.

jamesh avatar

There are only 5 levels of reply (don’t know why).

It should be a self regulating system. People will always be able to buy from the Raspi website (AFAIK), so the maximum a distributor would be able to charge would be the price+deli for a Raspi from the home website. If they charge more than that, there is no incentive to buy from them at all.

sonicase avatar

lol raspberry pee, mmm

Jamie avatar

I wouldn’t be embarrassed about not having hardware accelerated X: I’m running Ubuntu 11.04 on a ThinkPad X60s with Intel’s own drivers and accelerated X still isn’t stable and can’t do things like video v-sync. My ThinkPad is well tested and practically a standard beside something as exotic as a Pi!

Can’t wait to get my mits on a Pi!

Darren avatar

Nice vid. @Eben, right at the end of the video you say “when they come out, buy one”. I think you should have said “when they come out buy one, or … they are so cheap .. why not buy five, and give some to your friends.”


I want three please. Why don’t you let me pre-order (and pre-pay)???? You wouldn’t need the $300,000 then, I think the community would probably give it to you.

liz avatar

Where’s that figure from? We’re well-funded for the first run (money from which will then go to prime the pump so manufacture can be ongoing), and preorders would cause us a massive administrative headache that we just don’t want.

Burak avatar

Hey ! did I hear that right ? Only 10-20000 pcs ? So how long do you expect the stocks to last ? 10 – 20 seconds ? Never underestimate the buying power of the Maker community. You should aim to at least 1-2 Millon pieces. Hopefully you’ll do that in the second run. Also keep in mind to make the new ones fully compatible. Otherwise people won’y buy the never edition.

BTW: Liz, thanks for hanging around and answering most questions.

Jasper den Ouden avatar

Awesome project! Good to see you realized that your USB hub was bigger than your computer, and added USB ports!

Note: The permalink doesn’t show the title without scrolling down depending on the font size. People will generally already know they’re looking at something about rasberry pi, so it would be better if the permalink looked at right at the title. (Generally this page doesn’t seem to make use of the fact that screens are wider than they’re heigh.)

DaVince avatar

November, but probably December? Hells YES. I am looking forward to this more and more, especially after seeing LXDE run acceptably and Eben explaining X is not running with any GPU drivers yet.

Shawn Pringle avatar

How much RAM will the box include?

liz avatar

Have a look at the FAQ at the top of the page, which answers this and other questions you might have.

Comments are closed