raspberry pi

When did Raspberry Pi get so expensive?

Raspberry Pi 5 and N100 GMKtec Nucbox G3

I just bought this N100-based Intel x86 mini PC (brand new), and it was cheaper than an almost equivalent—but slower—Raspberry Pi 5.

This GMKtec mini PC is called the Nucbox G3, and it comes with an Intel Alder Lake N100 4-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256 GB M.2 NVMe SSD, and Windows 11 Pro—and mine cost just $131, after a couple coupons.

That's... a lot of computer for a very good price. But the Raspberry Pi—the famous "$35 computer", should be well below that... right?

Well, I bought all the parts required to build a Pi 5 to the same spec—including the adapters and parts to assemble it into one small unit—and it turns out... the Pi is more expensive. And slower.

The Pi 4 still starts at $35 (for a 1 GB model), but the Pi 5 starts at $60 (for 4 GB) and climbs to $80 for the maximum 8 GB model.

Raspberry Pi 5 shortages shouldn't last long

Or at least that's the hope, based on current production rates.

Jeff Geerling speaks to Eben Upton at CES 2024

At CES 2024, I had the opportunity to chat with Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi's CEO. We discussed the future of AI on the Pi, RP2040's successor, the impending launch of Compute Module 5, and current production rates of Pi 4 and Pi 5 computers—Raspberry Pi's bread and butter.

The news is good: currently (as of last week), they are manufacturing Pi 5 at a rate of 70,000 per week. By the end of January? 90,000 per week.

That would put manufacturing capacity for Pi 5 alone at 400,000 units every month.

Raspberry Pi 4 manufacturing line

Keeping one Game Gear out of the landfill

Game Gear and scratchy blue

I was sent a Zega Mame Gear kit by John Maddison, of Zarcade, in April this year. I bought a Game Gear shell off eBay for $15, some extra buttons, switches, screws, and a new glass screen cover from Handheld Legend, and I could finally find a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 for sale last month.

So I put all that together into a modern RetroPie handheld emulation build, and now I can play through games I only wish I could've played in my childhood. Being the third child, I was typically relegated to 'trying to cram in some time on the console before the game rental was due back' status.

Jeff and siblings on game console

So you want to make a Raspberry Pi killer...

Raspberry Pi CM4 Clones stacked up

I'm in the unique position of owning a collection of Raspberry Pi Compute Modules 4 (CM4).

I also own at least one of every production CM4 clone in existence.

This sets up a quandary: if I have the real thing, what motivation do I have to care about the clones?

There are hundreds of CM4 carrier boards that do everything from restoring retro game consoles to monitoring remote oil rigs in highly-explosive environments.

Since launch, the CM4 has been difficult—and since early 2021, impossible—to acquire. The supply constraints are well documented, and I'm sure a few comments will lament the situation. But the CM4 is trickling back to 'in stock' at many suppliers (about how the Pi 4 was a couple months ago).

A PCIe Coral TPU FINALLY works on Raspberry Pi 5

Coral.ai TPUs are AI accelerators used for tasks like machine vision and audio processing. Raspberry Pis are often integrated into small robotics and IoT products—or used to analyze live video feeds with Frigate.

Until today, nobody I know of has been able to get a PCI Express Coral TPU working on the Raspberry Pi. The Compute Module 4, unfortunately, had some quirks in its PCIe implementation, preventing the use of the Coral over PCIe.

Google Coral TPU running over PCIe on Raspberry Pi 5

The Raspberry Pi 5 has a much improved PCIe bus—capable of reaching Gen 3 speeds even!—and I've already tested the first PCIe NVMe HATs for Pi 5.

So can the Pi 5 handle the Coral TPU natively over PCIe?

Yes. Though currently, you need to tweak a few things to get it working.

How to customize the dtb (device tree binary) on the Raspberry Pi

Every so often, when you're debugging weird hardware issues on SBCs like the Raspberry Pi, it's useful to get way down into the guts of how the Pi represents its hardware to Linux.

And the Linux kernel uses a method called Device Tree overlays to do it. On the Pi 5 (and other Pis), these overlays are stored as .dtb files inside the /boot/firmware directory, and there's an overlay for every major Raspberry Pi hardware model.

I've had to modify the dtb files in the past to increase the PCIe BAR space for early GPU testing on the Compute Module 4. And recently I've had to mess with how the PCIe address space is set up for testing certain devices on the Raspberry Pi 5.

Reducing Raspberry Pi 5's power consumption by 140x

Sorry to clickbait with that title... but it's actually true. I can help you improve power use by 140x—for power off power consumption, at least.

Dialog PMIC on Raspberry Pi 5

By default, the Raspberry Pi 5 (like the Pi 4 before it) leaves the SoC powered up (just in a shutdown state) when you shut down the Pi.

Because of this, a Pi 5 will still sit there consuming 1.2-1.6W when completely shut down, even without anything plugged in except power.

That's a lot—even compared to a modern desktop PC!

Why is this?

Apparently some HATs have trouble if the 3v3 power rail is off, but 5v is still active—which would be the case if you completely power off the SoC, but still have your 5V power supply plugged in.

Because of that, the Pi ships by default with the setting POWER_OFF_ON_HALT=0, and the Pi eats up precious watts all the time.

NVMe SSD boot with the Raspberry Pi 5

Pi 5 PCIe NVMe Kioxia XG8 SSD

In my video about the brand new Raspberry Pi 5, I mentioned the new external PCIe port makes it possible to boot the standard Pi 5 model B directly off NVMe storage—an option which is much faster and more reliable than standard microSD storage (even with industrial-rated cards!).

Enabling NVMe boot is pretty easy, you add a line to /boot/firmware/config.txt, modify the BOOT_ORDER in the bootloader configuration, and reboot!