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Official, customized Raspberry Pi versions coming soon

Oct 27, 2015 — by Rick Lehrbaum — 5,254 views

The immensely popular Raspberry Pi will soon be offered in customized versions, through an exclusive arrangement between Raspberry Pi Trading and Element14.

Raspberry Pi Trading Ltd., the commercial subsidiary of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and Element14 have signed a global exclusive agreement whereby Element14 will provide “design and manufacturing services to OEM customers to create bespoke designs based upon the Raspberry Pi technology platform,” the companies jointly announced in London today.

Use of the term, “bespoke” makes it clear that the customized Raspberry Pi SBC development projects will entail substantial up-front commitments to both NRE (non-recurring engineering) payments and volume orders. In particular, “As these will be bespoke designs it is envisaged that order quantities will start in the region of between 3,000 and 5,000 depending upon the nature of the customization,” adds the announcement.

The arrangement “follows a number of customer requests to create customized versions of the Raspberry Pi boards and represents the next phase in the Element14 and Raspberry Pi Trading global partnership,” states the companies’ joint news release. Element14’s custom Raspberry Pi development projects will be tap its Embest and AVID technology business units, and will be further supported by both Broadcom, whose processor is used on the SBC, and the Raspberry Pi Trading company. “Element14 has access to more than 200 design engineers to evaluate customers’ needs and provide bespoke Raspberry Pi-based customization designs to meet their requirements,” the statement said.

With the exponential growth in popularity of the Raspberry Pi SBC among educators, hackers, makers, and professional developers alike, it was only a matter of time until the SBC to morph into a de facto standard architecture for use as the embedded platform within a wide range of smart devices. A similar phenomenon occurred in the mid-80s when the IBM PC architecture began to be incorporated into SBCs like the Ampro Little Board/PC and standardized architectures like PC/104.

Applications for new, customized versions of the Raspberry Pi are expected to include Internet of Things (IoT) devices, as well as energy management systems, industrial equipment, and consumer gadgets

Raspberry Pi Compute Module (left) and SBC, roughly to scale
(click images to enlarge)

The Raspberry Pi design tweaks are likely to include revised board layouts, additional or alternative functions, interfaces, connectors, and memory configurations, and more. Last year, Raspberry Pi Trading created its own customized version of the Raspberry Pi SBC in the form of the $30 computer-on-module called the Raspberry Pi Compute Module (shown above).

A handful of unsanctioned Raspberry Pi knock-offs have already appeared over the past couple of years, including various Orange Pi and Banana Pi flavors (shown below).

Alternative Raspberry Pi SBC flavors — left to right: Orange Pi 2, Orange Pi Plus, Banana Pi M2, and Banana Pro

“This exclusive partnership extends element14’s world class end-to-end design to manufacturing services to OEM customers, giving them the flexibility to customize any Raspberry Pi board in order to optimize it for a particular design,” stated Claire Doyle, Global Head of Raspberry Pi at element14. “This is an incredibly exciting development for Raspberry Pi Trading, Broadcom, and the industry as a whole, which will see boards featuring the Broadcom application processors being designed into end user applications and markets in significant volume.”

“We are delighted to announce the appointment of element14 as our global strategic partner for the design and manufacture of custom Raspberry Pi-derived hardware,” stated Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading.

Further information

More details on creating customized versions of the Raspberry Pi may be found at Element14’s CustomPi page.

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2 responses to “Official, customized Raspberry Pi versions coming soon”

  1. whheydt says:

    Those “Alternate Raspberry Pi” SBCs are no such thing. None of them use BC2835 or BCM2836 SoCs. All the ones I’ve looked at the specs on use various Allwinner SoCs. Don’t be fooled by the ” Pi” names.

  2. Foxhollow says:

    I agree. Stop calling these units “Alternate Raspberry Pi”. They have nothing to do with the rpi. They cannot run any of the rpi software. The only thing in common is the physical size and I was hoping that is not the criteria being used to evaluate compatibility.

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