raspberry pi

Giving away 480 Raspberry Pis was harder than I expected

I gave away 480 Raspberry Pi Picos at Open Sauce last weekend, and ran into a number of challenges doing so. All of them self-inflicted, of course. I didn't want to just hand them out like candy—or, well... that's exactly what I did:

Raspberry PIZ Dispenser with little Star Wars PEZ Dispenser

My initial plan was to build a backpack mount for a full 480-Pico reel (they sell them in bulk like that, for pick-n-place machines). However, there was a major flaw with that design.

Constraints

I needed to get through TSA, so I could fly to San Francisco. Driving was out of the question, as my wife is almost full-term and I could not leave her for more than a week in the middle of summer, when the kids have about 15 events per week!

A full reel would require a knife or scissors, and I didn't want to check the bag whatever I built was in.

55 TOPS Raspberry Pi AI PC - 4 TPUs, 2 NPUs

I'm in full-on procrastination mode with Open Sauce coming up in 10 days and a project I haven't started on for it, so I decided to try building the stable AI PC with all the AI accelerator chips I own:

  • Hailo-8 (26 TOPS)
  • Hailo-8L (13 TOPS)
  • 2x Coral Dual Edge TPU (8+8 = 16 TOPS)
  • 2x Coral Edge TPU (4+4 = 8 TOPS)

After my first faltering attempt in my testing of Raspberry Pi's new AI Kit, I decided to try building it again, but with a more 'proper' PCIe setup, with external 12V power to the PCIe devices, courtesy of an uPCIty Lite PCIe HAT for the Pi 5.

Raspberry Pi 55 TOPS AI Board

I'm... not sure it's that much less janky, but at least I had one board with a bunch of M.2 cards instead of many precariously stacked on top of each other!

Testing Raspberry Pi's AI Kit - 13 TOPS for $70

Raspberry Pi today launched the AI Kit, a $70 addon which straps a Hailo-8L on top of a Raspberry Pi 5, using the recently-launched M.2 HAT (the Hailo-8L is of the M.2 M-key variety, and comes preinstalled).

Raspberry Pi AI Kit

The Hailo-8L's claim to fame is 3-4 TOPS/W efficiency, which, along with the Pi's 3-4W idle power consumption, puts it alongside Nvidia's edge devices like the Jetson Orin in terms of TOPS/$ and TOPS/W for price and efficiency.

Google's Coral TPU has been a popular choice for a machine learning/AI accelerator for the Pi for years now, but Google seems to have left the project on life support, after the Coral hardware was scalped for a couple years about as badly as the Raspberry Pi itself!

Can the Raspberry Pi 5 handle 4K?

Apple TV and Raspberry Pi 5 connected to LG OLED TV

In the past, I've booted LibreELEC on the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 in my "This is not a TV" Sharp NEC display.

According to LibreELEC's Pi 5 blog post, the new BCM2712 SoC decodes 4K and 1080p content just fine in H.264, and supports HEVC 4K60 hardware decoding.

And they've tested AV1, VC1, and VP9 at 1080p with no issue, though 4K in non-native formats does encounter frame dropping.

I wanted to put the Pi through some testing of my own, now that the Pi 5's been out for months, and LibreELEC version 12 is stable.

Testing object detection (yolo, mobilenet, etc.) with picamera2 on Pi 5

Besides the Pi 5 being approximately 2.5x faster for general compute, the addition of other blocks of the Arm architecture in the Pi 5's upgrade to A76 cores promises to speed up other tasks, too.

Jeff Geerling person object detection on Pi 5

On the Pi 4, popular image processing models for object detection, pose detection, etc. would top out at 2-5 fps using the built-in CPU. Accessories like the Google Coral TPU speed things up considerably (and are eminently useful in builds like my Frigate NVR), but a Coral adds on $60 to the cost of your Pi project.

With the Pi 5, if I can double or triple inference speed—even at the expense of maxing out CPU usage—it could be worth it for some things.

LattePanda Mu crams x86 PC into SoM form factor

LattePanda Mu with Raspberry Pi 5 in background

LattePanda's been building Intel-based SBCs for almost a decade, but until now, they've never attempted to unite an Intel x86 chip with the popular SoM-style form factor Raspberry Pi's dominated with their Compute Module boards.

This year they've introduced the LattePanda Mu, a SoM that marries an Intel N100 SoC with a new edge connector standard they've designed, using a DDR4 SODIMM form factor.

Right now they offer two carrier boards: a lite version with basic interfaces and a couple 2230-size M.2 slots for SSDs and wireless, and a full evaluation carrier that breaks out every hardware interface in a Mini ITX-sized motherboard.

microSD cards' SBC days are numbered

Raspberry Pi M.2 HAT+

For years, SBCs that aren't Raspberry Pis experimented with eMMC and M.2 storage interfaces. While the Raspberry Pi went from full-size SD card in the first generation to microSD in every generation following (Compute Modules excluded), other vendors like Radxa, Orange Pi, Banana Pi, etc. have been all over the place.

Still, most of the time a fallback microSD card slot remains.

But microSD cards—even the fastest UHS-II/A2/V90/etc. ones that advertise hundreds of MB/sec—are laggards when it comes to any kind of SBC workflow.

The two main reasons they're used are cost and size. They're tiny, and they don't cost much, especially if you don't shell out for industrial-rated microSD cards.

microSD card slot on Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is getting into the services game

...and it's all free—so far.

Raspberry Pi Connect Beta Logo

Raspberry Pi today launched Raspberry Pi Connect, a free remote VPN service for all Pi OS users.

If you create a Raspberry Pi ID, you can sign up for Connect, install rpi-connect on a Pi 4 or 5 running 64-bit Pi OS 12 'Bookworm', and register that Pi with the service.

Then, on any other device's web browser, you can log in and remote control your Pi through Connect's web-based VNC viewer.

Raspberry Pi Connect Demo

The VNC server is based on wayvnc, and the Connect service allows for as many registered Pis as you want (though I'm guessing the interface is optimized for the majority use case of one or a few).

4-way NVMe RAID comes to Raspberry Pi 5

With the Raspberry Pi 5's exposed PCI Express connector comes many new possibilities—which I test and document in my Pi PCIe Database. Today's board is the Geekwork X1011, which puts four NVMe SSDs under a Raspberry Pi.

Inland 256GB NVMe SSDs installed on X1011 on Raspberry Pi 5

Unlike the Penta SATA HAT I tested last month, this carrier uses thinner and faster NVMe storage, making it a highly-compact storage expansion option, which has the added benefit of freeing up the top of the Pi 5 for other HAT expansion options.

Raspberry Pi 5 installed atop Geekworm X1011 NVMe SSD carrier

Turing RK1 is 2x faster, 1.8x pricier than Pi 5

I've long been a fan of Pi clusters. It may be an irrational hobby, building tiny underpowered SBC clusters I can fit in my backpack, but it is a fun hobby.

Turing Pi 2 with four CM4

And a couple years ago, the 'cluster on a board' concept reached its pinnacle with the Turing Pi 2, which I tested using four Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4's.

Because Pi availability was nonexistent for a few years, many hardware companies started building their own substitutes—and Turing Pi was no exception. They started designing a new SoM (System on Module) compatible with their Turing Pi 2 board (which uses an Nvidia Jetson-compatible pinout), and the result is the RK1:

Turing RK1 SoM