Raspberry Pi: What's in it for business?

Based on a Broadcom system-on-chip processor, the Raspberry Pi is no larger than a credit card, but packs around four times more multimedia decoding performance than Apple's iPhone 4.

Software developers gain access to a low-cost processor with powerful video decoding and 3D rendering capabilities. Hardware developers can make use of 26-pin general-purpose input-output (GPIO), MIPI camera and Display Serial Interconnect (DSI) connectors as well as on-board USB, HDMI and analogue audio.

Raspberry Pi configuration

Raspberry Pi configuration

The Broadcom BCM2835 SoC is based on ARMv6 architecture

By reducing capital expenditure on hardware and removing the need for inefficient system emulation, the Pi has the potential to significantly reduce time-to-market and project costs.

However, the low cost also counts against the Pi. The Broadcom BCM2835 SoC is based on the previous-generation ARMv6 instruction set architecture, which makes it a relatively outdated device. With most manufacturers standardising on the ARMv7-based Cortex family, the Pi isn't a drop-in replacement - and the lack of an IEEE 1149.1 Standard Test Access Port (JTAG) puts bare-metal development on a back footing.

As an accessory to existing boards, the Pi holds promise - but as a replacement it is found lacking.

Gareth Halfacree

Gareth Halfacree is an experienced tech journalist and IT professional, and has been writing since 2006. In addition to contributing article for ITPro, Gareth has been featured in publications such as PC Pro, Techmeme, The Register, The MagPi, and Tom’s Hardware.

In addition to his digital articles, Gareth is the author of several best-selling books. These include the Raspberry Pi User Guide, an essential text for those looking to get started with their Raspberry Pi, as well as The Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide. Gareth also wrote the Official BBC micro:bit User Guide, a comprehensive guide to setting up the pocket-sized computer, learning to code on it, and even creating your own hardware addons.