Tiny £15 Raspberry Pi Computer Shows Off Its Power

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Raspberry Pi, the tiny educational computer under development in the UK, has been filmed playing Quake III

The UK-based Raspberry Pi Foundation, which is developing a tiny, low-cost computer for educational purposes, released a video over the weekend demonstrating the gadget running Quake III – showing off its potential processing power.

The demonstration showed that Raspberry Pi can run demanding applications and also gave some practical indicators as to how much heat the hardware emits when working at maximum capacity, the foundation said.

Heat emission

“We’re still working on ironing a few kinks out (specifically, there seems to be a library issue which means our framerate, while good, isn’t quite as spectacular as we know it can be…) – but this is what test boards are for, and we’re making great progress getting the boards running smoothly,” wrote project blogger Liz Upton in a blog post.

The experiment showed that the machine remains fairly cool when running at top performance, according to Upton.

“We feel you should be fine with the sort of thermoplastic cases that some of you are hoping to make… the chip doing all the work in this clip was still under body temperature after I’d filmed this demo four times, and feels surprisingly cool to the touch,” she wrote. “This is also, of course, great news for power consumption.”

“Obviously, the Raspberry Pi isn’t intended as a gaming platform, but it’s very satisfying to let the Broadcom BCM2835 application processor off the leash (yes, I’m allowed to give you the part number now) and see what it can do in this sphere nonetheless,” Upton wrote

The next step is to link up a number of Raspberry Pis and play Quake III Deathmatch, according to Upton.

A computer inside a USB stick

The computer is slightly larger than a 20 pence piece and provisionally comes with a 700MHz ARM11 processor; 128MB of SDRAM; OpenGL ES 2.0; 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode; composite and HDMI video output; USB 2.0; SD/MMC/SDIO memory card slot; general-purpose I/O; and finally open source software, namely Ubuntu, Iceweasel, KOffice, and Python.

Effectively the entire computer is housed on a tiny USB stick. The HDMI port is used to connect to an LCD TV screen, and the USB port is used to hook up a keyboard.

Games programmer David Braben of Frontier Developments, who came up with the Raspberry Pi idea, is hoping that this cheap computer, which is undergoing a 12 month trial, will give more kids the chance to develop their programming skills.

Meanwhile it seems that the Raspberry Pi charity is in talks with government personnel, but it is looking for investment partners as it seeks to bring the tiny PC into commercial production.

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