What is Raspberry pi and why is it important for IoT

While there are smartphones and laptops to make things easy for people, there are a few like Raspberry Pi Foundation that are conferring the power of digital making into the hands of people.

What is it exactly doing? It’s leveraging low cost, high performance computers to help people learn, solve problems and have fun. In short its enabling a lot of them access to computing and understanding the complex digital world. And how is it been done? By developing free resources to help people learn and by training educators who can guide other people gain knowledge.

Raspberry Pi, that it is commonly known as, is a low-cost ARM GNU/Linux box. Hardly the size of a credit card, this single board computer developed in the UK can be plugged into a computer screen or TV and can function on a standard keyboard and mouse.

This little wonder device can help learners of all age group to explore computing and even learn programming in languages like Python and Scratch. And if you thought if they were any less than the usual desktops, it’s time to get facts cleared. It can do everything that a normal computer can- play song, play videos, make spreadsheets, word processing, browsing and much more. That’s not all, it can also interact with the outside world which it has proved by its utility in music machines, weather stations, parent detectors and more.

Launched with the basic idea to educate basic computer science in schools and developing countries, several generations of Raspberry Pi have been released till now. With their first release in the year 2012 (Pi 1) in basic model A and a higher specification B, its second generation (Pi 2) was released in 2015 followed by Pi 3 in Feb 2016. These boards are available in various price ranges from $6 to up to $100 and even more based on various features.

What is it made of?

The design of Raspberry Pi is based on a Broadcom BCM2835 system on a chip (SoC) including ARM compatible CPU with a speed ranging from 700 MHz to 1.2 GHz for the Pi 3 along with an on chip GPU. The on board memory might range from 256MB to 1 GB RAM.

It does not include built-in hard disk or solid state drive and instead relies on an SD card for booting and long term storage. Possessing around one to four USB slots, HDMI and composite video output, and a 3.5 mm phono jack for audio, it makes for a lucrative alternative for huge desktops. The higher versions also include 8P8C Ethernet port, on board WiFi 802.11n and Bluetooth.

Why is it important for IoT?

Given its highly affordable cost and size, Raspberry Pi has been a popular name in the computing world. And with its capability to run on a special version of Windows 10 called Windows 10 IoT Core, it categorizes itself as an “Internet of Things” device. It stands out to be one of the key learning platforms for IoT.

Let’s see how? Well, if the experts from the field are to be believed, Raspberry Pi makes up for a great IoT device. Some of its features such as its small size, low power consumption, and ease of managing over cloud, makes it for a favourable IoT device.

Further divulging into the details, Raspberry Pi is a full computer that uses variety of languages including Python, Ruby, PHP, and Java. IoT apps can easily be developed in Javascript with the Johnny-Five framework. The Raspberry Pi also provides 8 I/O pins, which are digital in nature. To interact with other devices, an additional chip would be required to be wired to the digital pins.

One of the major perks of Raspberry in the IoT space is its network connectivity. Majority of Raspberry Pi boards come with an in-built ethernet connector. Furthermore, the USB ports on it make is easy to connect WiFi dongle.

The newly launched Raspberry Pi Zero, which comes without Ethernet and requires networking by connecting a WiFi adapter to the USB port, has lower power requirements making it somewhat more suitable to battery powered applications.

With an ever increasing demand in the IoT device market, newer boards are making an ever growing appearance. But with devices like Raspberry Pi, it is going to keep up the competitive quotient for other entrants.

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Srishti Deoras
Srishti Deoras

Srishti currently works as Content Strategist for Analytics India Magazine. When not covering the analytics news, editing and writing articles, she could be found reading or capturing thoughts into pictures.