CHIP is a $9 Raspberry Pi killer | Techno stream

CHIP is a $9 Raspberry Pi killer

10 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

C.H.I.P. is a $9 computer smaller than a credit card.

The success of the Raspberry Pi has spawned a cottage industry of imitators, but the budget hobbyist computer’s $35 price tag is looking downright expensive compared to the latest arrival, the $9 Chip.Described by its creators as tiny and easy-to-use, C.H.I.P. is a straight-up computer that does “computer things” such as word processing, web surfing and video games. The Chip comes with an Allwinner A13 ARM-based 1GHz processor, 512MB of DDR3 RAM and 4GB of storage, all on a circuit board that’s smaller than a packet of cigarettes. The device is the brainchild of an Oakland, California startup seemingly populated entirely by hipsters, which is pitching it as either a standalone computer or an inexpensive controller for larger projects.

Whether you’re building yourself a wall clock that counts down time to the next bus at your stop, or setting up a network of hundreds of solar-powered air quality sensors for use in disaster relief, you need the same basic tools to start from: a processor, a way to exchange data, and a way to power everything. You can install a light version of Debian and you can even plug it into something called the PocketCHIP that adds a touchscreen and keyboard to the mix in a package about as big as the original Game Boy.

The Chip runs Debian Linux and, according to its developers, both the software and hardware are “totally open source.” For a more consumer-friendly package, the team is also offering an outer shell for the devices, dubbed Pocket Chip, which turns the Chip into the world’s ugliest Blackberry knockoff. The $49 add-on has a 4.3-inch, 470-by-272 pixel color touchscreen, a QWERTY keyboard with what looks like finger-crippling buttons, and a battery that claims to be able to power the Chip for five hours. But even then, no DIY skills are required to get up an running: just plug in the power supply and monitor and you have a 2-inch desktop computer booting into a tailored Linux operating system.

It exceeded that in mere hours and the project now has over $275,000 in pledged funds – which could make the team think again about quite how big their plans should be. The Chip developers plan to begin manufacturing the devices in November and the first units should ship in May of next year, but if you give the group $150 they’ll send you an alpha unit this September, plus five Chip units and a Pocket Chip device once they become generally available. ® If you really want to hook C.H.I.P. up to an HDTV or modern computer display, you can buy a separate HDMI ($15) or VGA adapter ($10) that snaps onto the computer, Lego-style.

You can also make C.H.I.P. portable by snapping it into PocketC.H.I.P, an accessory with a 4.3-inch touchscreen, QWERTY keyboard and battery that lasts up to five hours. If you can carry the little guy around with you and play games with it or use it as a mini computer, the hacker mentality make take hold and you may wish to expand the platform.

While you could obviously just pick up a Raspberry Pi 2 and rock out with that, this little guy seems like the perfect solution for folks experimenting with wearables and micro devices, an area of interest that is sure to grow over the next few years.

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