back to article Arm grabs a slice of Raspberry Pi to sweeten relationship with IoT devs

Arm Holdings has acquired a minority stake in the popular single-board computer maker Raspberry Pi in a bid to cement its influence over the IoT developer community. "With the rapid growth of edge and endpoint AI applications, platforms like those from Raspberry Pi, built on Arm, are critical to driving the adoption of high- …

  1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    No! No! No! No! No!

    The Embrace has been in place since 2008.

    Now we see the Extend phase.

    It will be such a shame to see the Extinguish event happen to such a wonderful little product.

    .

    I suppose the only consolation is that it has been shown that there is a hunger for Pi out there, and someone else will come up with a similar recipe to feed the enthusiast eventually.

    1. Contrex

      Re: No! No! No! No! No!

      Why would Arm want to 'extinguish' the Raspberry Pi?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No! No! No! No! No!

        Extinguish doesnt necessarily mean "kill the host" it can also mean "control the host".

        In this instance it means Raspberry Pi will be influenced to an extent on any future decisions that might involve other architecture.

        Right now, thats not a huge problem...but down the line, should superior architectures become apparent, it could make Raspberry Pi less compelling.

        If future ARM platforms dont keep pace with alternatives, then Raspberry Pi devices could become comparatively less interesting than competitor products.

        Or it could go the other way and we end up with an NVIDIA situation. Where competition becomes so thin that it jacks the price up to the point where Raspberry Pi products are insane Ely expensive.

        I think short term, ARM buying a stake in RPI is a net positive, but medium to long term remains to be seen.

      2. karlkarl Silver badge

        Re: No! No! No! No! No!

        In some ways this is what the whole article is about.

        Arm obviously doesn't want to extinguish it, but they likely want to i.e ensure the Pi project doesn't explore RISC-V. Ultimately this is *already* starting to impose restrictions on the community that aren't in the communities (or the Pi project's) best interest.

        Companies are creepy machines; you can obviously guarantee they don't act in the best interests of smaller companies or communities.

    2. nickocean

      Re: No! No! No! No! No!

      Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! and one NO!

      ARM is 'merely' an architecture and licensor for its CPU designs and does not get involved with manufacture and production beyond consultancy.

      My only 'No!' is that ARM's investment in Raspberry Pi is to persuade them not to switch to open-source RISC-V processors because this would be damaging headline news for ARM.

      One of my 'Yes!'s is that ARM could offer its design to Raspberry Pi for a reduced fee or even free, keeping the board price down. Indeed, ARM could consider this discount / free license a marketing cost, as Raspberry Pi's very existence as a powerful computer that needs little electricity because it uses ARM is quite the marketing message.

      1. jonathan keith

        Re: No! No! No! No! No!

        One of my 'Yes!'s is that ARM could offer its design to Raspberry Pi for a reduced fee or even free, keeping the board price down. Indeed, ARM could consider this discount / free license a marketing cost, as Raspberry Pi's very existence as a powerful computer that needs little electricity because it uses ARM is quite the marketing message.

        Not now ARM has shareholder interests to prioritise. By which I obviously mean short-term shareholder interests, which invariably results in the business being squeezed for as much profit as possible as quickly as possible.

  2. spireite Silver badge

    If they overpaid...

    Did it cost an Arm and a leg?

  3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    I'm surprised there wasn't already a relationship between ARM and the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

    But with the increase in noise about RISC-V, I suspect ARM are just making sure RPi don't go getting ideas above their station.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      I think it's just as much about a Raspberry Pi IPO being on the horizon.

  4. nintendoeats Silver badge

    ...critical to driving the adoption of high-performance IoT devices globally...

    Why would we want to do that?

  5. KarMann Silver badge
    Coat

    …NASA has opted for a RISC-V core design developed by SiFive for its next space flight computer.
    Well, that figures. After all, historically, NASA has known a thing or two about RISC management. And then re-learned them….

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      The advantage of RISC-V for NASA is that they can design their own hardware hardened for space, as long as it implements the RISC-V ISA. Making a hardened processor reduces the amount of shielding required, and thus the weight of the electronics package.

      They could have used one of the Arm Architectural Licensees to develop hardened Arm cores, but there are advantages to RISC-V that are more than just the license cost.

      On top of this, given the success of various long-lived NASA spacecraft, you can probably argue that they really know how to get the best out of hardware with exceptionally modest processing capability, so really don't need cutting edge processor hardware, at least not until they want to put AI into a spacecraft, and we know where that can lead!

      What surprised me was that the previous preferred hardware, the RAD750 which was based on PowerPC processors from IBM (now provided by BAE Systems) was used as late as the James Webb space telescope. I know JWST was delayed, but I still would have thought that they would have used a more recent processor.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        >I still would have thought that they would have used a more recent processor.

        Why?

        Unless you need a lot more processing power you use the part with a proven 10 year in space test

      2. Bartholomew
        Pint

        One thing to keep in mind about radiation hardened chips is that physically bigger is usually much much better in terms of long term service. Do you really want to use the latest bleeding edge process where the minimum process feature is a few dozen atoms wide, or do you want to use a much much older process where where the minimum process feature is several thousand of atoms wide.

        e.g. What happens when some of the doped material changes atomic number far far away from N-type, P-type or undopped silicon. With only a few dozen atoms that random change can easily be the difference between a SEU (Single-Event Upset) that can easily be recovered from by a watchdog timer causing a hardware reset and permanent fault like a SEL(Single-Rvent Latch-up), SEGR (Single-Event Gate Rupture), or (SEB) Single-Event Burnout) that can not be recovered without bypassing the failed hardware altogether forever.

        I raise a pint to the people who design this stuff because it is never easy to balance everything that is required, even when using the latest graded-Z shielding.

      3. timrowledge

        Some time ago and memory may have corrupted but I could swear there were Silicon on Sapphire chips in orbit.

  6. Timto

    I remember when

    I remember when these devices were aimed at getting kids involved in coding etc

    What happened to that?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: I remember when

      Two groups overshadowed it. One was the people making digital signage, who realized that the Pi's based around a GPU that was intended for TV boxes and thus that it is a pretty great way to build a cheap sign. That led to a large group of industrial users who figured out that, if you have a screen involved, connecting it to a Pi is probably pretty handy. The second group was us. The hobbyists who bought plenty of Pis, but did you buy them for education? I didn't, and most of the users I see online are using them for personal projects, not teaching. That doesn't mean people aren't using them for teaching, and I'm sure some are.

      However, there's a reason they might not be. These two groups having had so much success might have blinded us to the fact that the Pi was kind of bad at some of the educational goals for a while. An original Pi running a GUI on a single 700 MHz core and 512 MB of RAM wasn't so great at teaching users to code because they were too busy trying to figure out which part of the system was responsible for it being so annoying compared to every other computer they saw. That's fixed now, but I do wonder how many people tried to use it that way, since the official OS images started in a desktop, so that must be the intended behavior. Of course, we hobbyists know where the limitations are, that those early models were great for CLI use (I still have one running here) and that you could use the GUI if you were careful about which software you ran. Those people who were new to Linux may not have understood why LibreOffice or Firefox, seemingly pretty normal software, were sluggish to an annoying extent. I hope that didn't put educational users off, but since most teachers are not familiar with Linux or programming in detail, I wouldn't be surprised that at least some were.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: I remember when

        they were too busy trying to figure out which part of the system was responsible for it being so annoying compared to every other computer they saw.

        you just described my StarFive VisionFive 2 RISC V SBC.

        There was the BBC micro:bit also, which as really quite good for what it does. But the schools in the UK have all got computers in already, and there's not that much in the curriculum for embedded and maker projects.The are loads of code clubs and web projects that use Pis though.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: I remember when

          >But the schools in the UK have all got computers in already

          That was the problem rPi was trying to solve.

          Schools had networked windows PCs, managed by some outsourced company who charge $$$$$$ to 'fix' anything so the PCs are locked down to prevent the students 'breaking' anything, and to prevent Mumsnet getting upset if a child plays a game, or access any web site not approved by the DoE.

          So kids get threatened with expulsion for 'hacking' ie using the command prompt - and then arrive for Comp Sci undegrad with highschool experience in opening Word.

          The pi was cheap enough to have a computer each and probably had one at home, they were encouraged to 'break it' cos a fix was just a new SD card image away.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: I remember when

            All of which is true, but someone was going to have to explain to the school why they should buy another computer, even a cheap one, when they already had these ones. Could the Pi replace the Windows machines for their other uses? Not at the time, it can now, but it will require admins that the other machines don't. They're still going to have Windows admins for staff equipment, so the extra admin for the rest of the machines is mostly small. I don't know how many people tried to explain that to schools, but I'm not surprised that with few people attempting to answer all their questions, few schools saw why they would benefit from getting Pis for everybody. Meanwhile, schools that intend to offer programming courses can also use the computers that already exist. It won't teach them Linux internals, but if they're intended to learn to write some code, that may not be high on the list of expected topics. Nobody was selling them on the benefits of these machines or providing solutions to the tricky bits, so they didn't adopt them, but we didn't notice because we were happy to keep buying them ourselves.

            1. Adrian 4

              Re: I remember when

              I think administration for school computers is largely outsourced to the local authority and they'll be just as familiar with Pis as Windows, if not more. It's quite a few years since Pi appeared and it'#s only got better, while all Windows has done is eat up the resources of increasingly powerful PCs.

              What's the refresh period for school PCs, anyway ? I suspect more than the 2-3 years that businesses need to keep them usable. In fact, it could be surprisingly close to the refresh period of the Pis themselves.

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: I remember when

                "I think administration for school computers is largely outsourced to the local authority"

                Maybe, although that's probably dependent on the region.

                "and they'll be just as familiar with Pis as Windows, if not more.": Er, why? The local government systems are almost certainly using Windows computers. Did your local authorities switch all their office machines to Linux recently, because mine definitely did not. Whether it's the authority IT or school-specific IT, the chances are that they have Windows machines for staff and few or no Linux devices. They can retrain for Linux, but they probably see that as a cost and don't see why they should. If we think they should, we'll have to be more helpful than this.

                "What's the refresh period for school PCs, anyway ?": In my experience, when pieces are falling off them, you can get a new one, assuming there's nothing in the spares closet. Another reason why they'd have to justify buying another set of computers, or to be convinced that they can replace the existing set with Pis alone, which they will probably decide they can't.

                1. werdsmith Silver badge

                  Re: I remember when

                  They are using Pis, just not in the curriculum. Some computing teachers are doing extra-curricular teaching. The students fund their own Pis and arduinos etc. The schools chip in a bit and they make their robots and enter them into competitions against other schools.

                  That things about "only learning how to do Word and Powerpoint" has been inaccurate pub bore BS for years.

                  For GCSE they do algorithms, programming, data representation, systems, networks, cyber security relational databases and SQL plus ethic, legal, environmental and privacy.

                  at A-level:

                  The characteristics of

                  contemporary processors,

                  input, output and storage

                  devices

                  • Software and software

                  development

                  • Exchanging data

                  • Data types, data structures and

                  algorithms

                  • Legal, moral, cultural and

                  ethical issues

                  • Elements of computational

                  thinking

                  • Problem solving and

                  programming

                  • Algorithms to solve problems

                  and standard algorithms

                  with: • Analysis of the problem

                  • Design of the solution

                  • Developing the solution

                  • Evaluation

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: I remember when

      I have always been of the impression that the Raspberry Pi, along with pretty much all of modern computing equipment is just too complicated to immediately grab a kid's attention to learn to control them. I've said this before, and I'll say it again. The 'peak' of self-discovery educational computers was the BBC microcomputer, and here is why.

      A kid could walk up to a BBC micro, turn it on, and type less than half a dozen lines of Basic copied from a card or manual, and a minute or two of effort, and have colourful displays, sound and all sorts of other things. Nothing complicated, but they did it.

      Great return on a small investment in time and effort. And once they've done that, they can wonder how to manipulate it to do what they want to have happen. And what made the BEEB so good was that once they got beyond pictures and sounds, you had a wealth of available ports and interfaces to do clever things with, once they have acquired a genuine interest.

      Put a kid in front of a Raspberry Pi, and they see a computer that they can use, but not one that they can easily mould to do what they want. They have to learn to log on, work out what files are and how to drive an editor, how to write in a language like Python, submit it to run, and how to interpret what did or didn't work.

      Modern computing, including the Raspberry Pi, is too complicated to grab a merely curious mind, so many kids lose interest before they get to the point that they can see the results of their effort. Plus, the modern systems offer too much distraction. Why would a kid invest in 10 minutes to write a program, when the can watch 15 TikTok videos on the same equipment in the same time!

      I'm not saying that you can't make a good educational tool out of a Raspberry Pi, but it's not there right from when you power it on.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: I remember when

        On the other hand, any computer designed to get people interested has to compete against computers that already exist. You could give them one of the various microcontroller-based educational platforms, which are a bit closer to the original computer. For example, the BBC Micro:bit is like that: you have to write some code to do anything interesting, but it provides some built-in hardware and libraries to control it so it's not hard to light it up and make some beeps. I still think the Pi's more likely to succeed because computers are more versatile than they were. A child that has a Micro:bit can, if they write enough code, make it light up and make sounds, with some sensors as the only inputs. This isn't very useful, which also prevents it from staying interesting.

        I think the Raspberry Pi knew this and therefore provided the hackable Minecraft platform. I've never used it myself, but I know some children have gotten their start with that. They can learn some coding techniques by modifying something they enjoy using, and it's preinstalled on the typical desktop image to make it easy to find. It may not be perfect, but it's something to attract early users that can teach them useful skills. I think that the more you limit the hardware to make learning the only option, the more a student will ignore the useless box and look at their phone, where local coding is difficult or impossible.

      2. Adrian 4

        Re: I remember when

        I don't have much regard for Python but I thought it was popular because of the wide library support. Kids don't come with BBC BASIC wired in from the womb - they've still got to start by copying from somewhere else, modifying, and then writing from scratch. Maybe some pythonista here could illustrate what you'd need to type in (or, of course, save from a web page) to do something moderately interesting.

        I presume there's a clone of BBC BASIC available too .. it's only a clicky link away, isn't ? Kids are used to that from their phone. And then there's stuff like Scratch.

        I agree there's a lot more going on to get started but I don't think the new user sees much of it. The only difference is that there are more choices, and that's really down to the school setup.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: I remember when

          It depends what you count as interesting. A lot of constructs are more concise in Python, and there are a bunch of libraries for basic graphics stuff which can be used if interesting requires a GUI of some sort. I don't think it's hard for a student who is interested to pick it up any more than BBC BASIC. I'm not sure how it compares for those who are not interested, but I'm also not sure whether making it easier will make the uninterested decide to try it anyway.

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: I remember when @doublelayer

            "I don't think it's hard for a student who is interested..."

            I don't disagree with your sentiment, but you've got to get that interest in the first place, starting from zero, and that is the hard part.

            In the early '80s, I used to be in a position where I saw kids who had already used and programmed Spectrums, Commodore VIC 20s and even BBC Micros (the first generation to come across BBC Micros in schools) come to a multi-user minicomputer and complain that the systems were too difficult to use because they had to learn how to log in, fire up an editor to edit their source code, submit it to a compiler and fix the resultant problems before ending up with a working program. And these were kids who were already interested and familiar with keyboards and screens. Today, this is not helped by the fact that current generations have much lower attention spans..

            At the same time, I saw people (we had a fair number of mature students on day-release) who had never come across a computer before who were asked to do similar things (even our Building Studies and Medical Laboratory Studies students ended up spending a couple of hours a week for a term trying to learn how a computer could be used in their work), and so many of them were just completely turned off of the idea of computers caused by the initial hurdles. Our BBC Micro lab. was a much better resource for teaching these students than the terminal laboratories connected to the central computers.

            I agree that it is a little different now, now that so many people have PCs at home, but I suspect that the problem will get worse again as computers are replaced by 'phones and internet capable TVs in many homes.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: I remember when @doublelayer

              I'm not convinced that you can make someone interested when they otherwise aren't by giving them something simple, because eventually they're going to ask a question of the form "How can I make it do X". If X is easy, that's great. If X is difficult, you can tell them that it's possible, but that the code is difficult to use. You might even be able to write it for them and give them a simpler wrapper to the functionality which is less powerful but doesn't require much knowledge*. If X isn't possible in this system, though, they may decide that it's not very capable and stop bothering. This is why I think that starting someone with a real programming language that is used professionally is likely to serve better than a limited subset, whether that's a BASIC variant or something else.

              * For example, I wrote a set of simple GUI libraries to help someone who was learning to write code. I didn't think the student would be that interested in all the lines it takes to write some text in a OS-defined box with a button, but they were getting tired of printing a line on the terminal and parsing input one line at a time. They were able to do what they know computers can do, and eventually they could build the skills to learn how writing a GUI works. If they're like me, they find it annoying enough that they go back to the CLI, but now out of choice rather than having only one option.

              As for the complex steps of logging in and using a compiler, I don't think modern students will be unfamiliar with the log in process, and you can avoid having to start them with a compiler by using an interpreted language, of which Python is the most popular in my experience for teaching. It's like BASIC in many ways, such as being easy to write and run and having a bit too little validity checking before you run it, so it should be similarly easy. We could change the configuration to boot them straight into a Python REPL with one file, so it can be even more like the computers of old (well, old enough that I didn't use them in my childhood).

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I remember when

        "I'm not saying that you can't make a good educational tool out of a Raspberry Pi, but it's not there right from when you power it on."

        You could provide them with a pre-imaged SD card that boot directly to an emulator, including a BBC emulator :-)

        It's probably already been done.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: I remember when

          You could also put RiscOS onto a Pi, but that would still not give you the link between the hardware and the programmes that was available on the BBC. It was the familiarity of the initial Basic, coupled with the ease of interacting with the hardware that could get the immediate impact followed by the progression to more complicated features on the same system.

          By the time they grew out of the BBC micro, they had the skills to progress onto more complicated systems (although in many cases, our students were using both in parallel)

          Where I worked in the '80s, we replaced a lab. full of PETs with BBC micros, and it made teaching computer fundamentals much easier, and more interesting. I remember one lesson where I hooked up a storage oscilloscope to the Econet, and ended up giving an impromptu talk on basic network protocols to about half a dozen HND students in one of their free periods who were fascinated by what was happening on the network.

          The BBC micro. Simple enough to understand, complex enough to be representative of other systems.

      4. timrowledge

        Re: I remember when

        It’s a computer. It has what you load it with. Want it set up to use as a modest desktop? OK. Want it set up as a NAS? OK. A 3D printer controller? Sure.

        If you want an “educational workstation “ load one of the setups produced by a variety of groups that have put in work to make them. You have GPIO pins to drive a staggering list of cool doohickeys that can teach about sensors and motors and effectors and imagers and noise makers and hell, control a nuclear reactor.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Raspberry Pi Foundation has lost its way

    > thanks to their low price

    That ship sailed a long time ago. To consumers they are now reather expensive for what they are, not that the Raspberry Pi Foundation care as they no longer serve education (or the consumer); they are only interested in fat contracts from industry.

    They are now the emobidement of everything the fought against in the beggining.

    1. snowpages

      Re: Raspberry Pi Foundation has lost its way

      The Foundation https://www.raspberrypi.org/ still focuses on education but the commercial company https://www.raspberrypi.com/ is there to be a business (and thus fund the Foundation).see https://www.raspberrypi.com/about/ for easy to read summary.

      One entity is a commercial organisation (with all the good and bad things that suggests), the other is a charitable foundation that tries to do good things.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Raspberry Pi Foundation has lost its way

        Yes, the Pi Foundation remain dedicated to education, but they are platform agnostic - they don't necessarily use Raspberry Pi.

      2. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Raspberry Pi Foundation has lost its way

        @snowpages

        Why have you been downvoted for a perfectly factual and un-opinionated comment?

        Sigh. I'll never understand the mindset of some people.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Raspberry Pi Foundation has lost its way

      "To consumers they are now reather expensive for what they are"

      In effect, they are cheaper now due to inflation. They only appear more expensive if you want the latest model.

      Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ £25

      According to RaspberryPi, the 3B+ will remain in production until 2026, but which time the 4 and the new 5 will probably have dropped in price.

    3. timrowledge

      Re: Raspberry Pi Foundation has lost its way

      What nonsense. They can offer $4 picos, $15 zero 2 Ws, $25 3A+, $35 1Gb 4, all the way up to the $80 Pi 5 8Gb. None of them count as “expensive for what they are “.

    4. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Raspberry Pi Foundation has lost its way

      they are only interested in fat contracts from industry.

      Pub-bore BS.

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