Killertechno
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Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:51 am

Since Raspberry has been created I see newer models with increased performances (more RAM, higher frequency, more cores, etc. etc.).
That's for SBC.
For industrial use I can only find CM (1 or 3 version).
Ok, in this way I have several devices I can use for "general" purposes but... what about battery powered devices?
Except for Zero I don't see nothing in this direction.
Taking as reference SoM boards with integrated ethernet controller, several serial ports, GPIO and so on (obviously without graphic card) running at less than 1 Watt, why nothing in this direction?
I think this is the only missing area not still covered by Raspberry........

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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:17 pm

If you turn off USB, ethernet HDMI you can get a Pi3 down to 80mA or so...

May be some progress towards < 5mA standby :
viewtopic.php?f=63&t=207961
Last edited by mikerr on Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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gordon77
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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:35 pm

There is the 1A+ model and in the blog about the new Pi3B+ it says..

"What about Model A+?
Raspberry Pi 1A+ continues to be the $20 entry-level “big” Raspberry Pi for the time being. We are considering the possibility of producing a Raspberry Pi 3A+ in due course."

so a 3A+ maybe coming...

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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:54 pm

The SoC isn't really suitable for very low power applications. It does have some very low power modes (e.g. MP3 playback, in a dedicated PCB can use < 10mA), but they are not really exposed on the Pi. But on the whole, just it's idle current is a bit high.
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Killertechno
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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 2:07 pm

jamesh wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:54 pm
The SoC isn't really suitable for very low power applications.
Sorry, probably little misundestand: as SoC (or would be better SoM?) I mean something similar to CM.
Pi-s and Zero already have connectors (ethernet, USB, HDMI...), I mean just connectors such as CM or GPIO on Pi-s and Zero to be mounted on custom board.

My question is not how "low power" can be a Pi/Zero in standby disabling all I can (USB, ethernet, HDMI....).

You are talking about specific chips on specific PCBs (such MP3); I don't mean this, I mean something such TI9000 (or something similar, I don't remember the name, not a Texas Instruments board) as board with ARM processor and Linux OS running on, without custom connectors (just 2,54 headers). This board needs less than 600mW to run with ethernet and FTP active. Obviously price is about 300$.

So, my question is WHICH ARE reasons for not planning to make a "low power" CM for example?

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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 2:14 pm

Maybe PIC microcontroller?
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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 2:46 pm

Killertechno wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 2:07 pm
jamesh wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:54 pm
The SoC isn't really suitable for very low power applications.
Sorry, probably little misundestand: as SoC (or would be better SoM?) I mean something similar to CM.
Pi-s and Zero already have connectors (ethernet, USB, HDMI...), I mean just connectors such as CM or GPIO on Pi-s and Zero to be mounted on custom board.

My question is not how "low power" can be a Pi/Zero in standby disabling all I can (USB, ethernet, HDMI....).

You are talking about specific chips on specific PCBs (such MP3); I don't mean this, I mean something such TI9000 (or something similar, I don't remember the name, not a Texas Instruments board) as board with ARM processor and Linux OS running on, without custom connectors (just 2,54 headers). This board needs less than 600mW to run with ethernet and FTP active. Obviously price is about 300$.

So, my question is WHICH ARE reasons for not planning to make a "low power" CM for example?
An old Engineering quip is: Efficiency depends on what you are trying to effish. The issue here is: What is the goal of the Pi designs? How much effort should be made, what component (including SoC) should be made to achieve selected ends? For the Pi, cutting power to the bone is not the goal. Rather, low price with as much functionality as possible is more important. Any ways to reduce power are incidental to those goals.

Beyond that, if you want more processing power, you are going to need more electrical power. That's fundamental physics. As time goes on, you can get more processing power for less electrical power, but at any given time the general principle holds.

For at least some of the specifics in this thread, a CM will require less power than a CM3/CM3L, but it will also be slower. The carrier board can bring out just the interfaces you want and not others. Within the SoC, you can turn off (through software) various interfaces to reduce power requirements.

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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 2:52 pm

Killertechno wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 2:07 pm
jamesh wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:54 pm
The SoC isn't really suitable for very low power applications.
Sorry, probably little misundestand: as SoC (or would be better SoM?) I mean something similar to CM.
Pi-s and Zero already have connectors (ethernet, USB, HDMI...), I mean just connectors such as CM or GPIO on Pi-s and Zero to be mounted on custom board.

My question is not how "low power" can be a Pi/Zero in standby disabling all I can (USB, ethernet, HDMI....).

You are talking about specific chips on specific PCBs (such MP3); I don't mean this, I mean something such TI9000 (or something similar, I don't remember the name, not a Texas Instruments board) as board with ARM processor and Linux OS running on, without custom connectors (just 2,54 headers). This board needs less than 600mW to run with ethernet and FTP active. Obviously price is about 300$.

So, my question is WHICH ARE reasons for not planning to make a "low power" CM for example?
Sorry, not with you. Are you asking for something like an Arduino in the CM form factor? Or do you still want the bcm2835? Which is basically the CM1.
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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 3:01 pm

You have to remember why the Pi came in to being.

It was to get the younger generation back in to computer programming by providing a cheap computer that they could experiment with, the pi zero was added to give those people less fortunate the chance to benefit from the pi as well.

That fact that so many other people found the pi useful is just a by the by that lead to the pi becoming such a success and allowed the raspberry pi foundation to benefit from the massive sales that followed.

building a low power example of the pi would not benefit the foundations stated aims and would cost money that the foundation can make better use of in its education aims.

If you want low power use look a the pic microcontroller some of them will run for months on a battery.
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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:07 pm

pcmanbob wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 3:01 pm
You have to remember why the Pi came in to being. It was to get the younger generation back in to computer programming by providing a cheap computer that they could experiment with
...
building a low power example of the pi would not benefit the foundations stated aims
If you check what people do with the pi than quite a lot of interesting stuff mentioned on the blog is battery powered. Also today's world is mobile and we are surrounded by smart gadgets like phones, tablets, watches, fitness trackers, glasses, IOT.

Teaching kids computing with small computer attached to mains, keyboard and display is missing a lot of what happened in last 15 years. Computing is no longer done with beige boxes connected to mains so it is not good idea to imitate that with the Pi. Kids today are no longer sitting with ZX Spectrum, C64 or Amiga at home. So 'providing a cheap computer' in such traditional sense in not that much interesting anymore.

So there may be lot of other reasons why low power and good power management it is not a priority now, but not because it would 'not benefit foundations stated aims'.

Personally I think this is a bit of a blind spot of guys who grown up 30 years ago with their Spectrum/BBC/C64. Every time when some kid wants to do time lapsing video or do cool photos of birds in nature with the Pi and the best suggestion here involves booting the Pi fast and then shut it down and power off properly with some additional kit I feel something is not right.

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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:34 pm

As I said above, the problem is that the SoC really isn't suited to low power requirements. So how do people propose getting round that?
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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:46 pm

If you really want a low power device for something like temp/humidity/light sensing or operating fairly simple stuff, try an ESP8266 or ESP32. They're not ARM powered, sadly, but nonetheless very useful. And very cheap - you can get them for something around a pound delivered via aliexpress etc. I use a bunch of slightly more expensive versions from WeMos.cc and have them talking MQTT to various Pi and Macs.

There are very low power ARM devices too; the M0 range for example. Oddly enough it generally costs about the same to get one to play with as a Pi setup, but that's just the way the markets work. There are ARM based Arduino boards too.

A Pi, even a Pi 0, is a lot of computer. Sometimes you simply don't need that much and expecting a Pi to do a job way outside its comfort zone is mostly a way to get frustrated.Frustration leads to anger. Anger leads to trolling...
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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:53 pm

fanoush wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:07 pm
Every time when some kid wants to do time lapsing video or do cool photos of birds in nature with the Pi and the best suggestion here involves booting the Pi fast and then shut it down and power off properly with some additional kit I feel something is not right.
That's pretty much how it is. Raspbian takes quite some time to boot but there are other options which are much, much quicker. But other than powering the Pi off there is no way to minimise current draw.

It can be said the Pi isn't suitable for that job; that's true. It would be a legitimate complaint that it wasn't if the Pi had been designed for such a task, intended for that. But it wasn't and isn't. There are many other things which aren't good for the job they weren't designed for or intended to do.

The Pi3B+ may be better than previous Pi's because the PMIC seems to allow for much simpler 'almost powered off' and powering-up / reboot operation, should require simpler additional hardware to do that, with no need to pass input power through that hardware. 'Almost powered off' may not help in all instances but probably will in some.

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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:07 pm

fanoush wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:07 pm
If you check what people do with the pi than quite a lot of interesting stuff mentioned on the blog is battery powered. Also today's world is mobile and we are surrounded by smart gadgets like phones, tablets, watches, fitness trackers, glasses, IOT.
I think the MicroBit was intended to go after that niche for education. How is *that* project doing?
Teaching kids computing with small computer attached to mains, keyboard and display is missing a lot of what happened in last 15 years. Computing is no longer done with beige boxes connected to mains so it is not good idea to imitate that with the Pi. Kids today are no longer sitting with ZX Spectrum, C64 or Amiga at home. So 'providing a cheap computer' in such traditional sense in not that much interesting anymore.
And that is the problem the Pi was intended to address. So far, some 19 million Pis have been sold and the current rate of sales is 5 million per year. While you may feel that the RPF has gotten it wrong, those numbers (far higher than any other SBC, and quite possibly higher than *all* other SBCs combined) would argue that the RPF got a whole bunch of things right.

Now as it happens, I do have a couple of battery powered Pi uses (that is, only a couple if you discount my habit of putting pretty near everything behind a UPS). I have simply selected models of Pi and sizes of batteries to make those projects work. It's really not that difficult to do a battery-powered Pi project so long as you understand the constraints of what you're working with.

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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:06 pm

fanoush wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:07 pm
If you check what people do with the pi than quite a lot of interesting stuff mentioned on the blog is battery powered. Also today's world is mobile and we are surrounded by smart gadgets like phones, tablets, watches, fitness trackers, glasses, IOT.
And many of those mobile devices are more powerful than your Raspberry Pi, so why not just use one of them?
Teaching kids computing with small computer attached to mains, keyboard and display is missing a lot of what happened in last 15 years.
Apparently you've missed what's been happening the last 6 years. The Raspberry Pi has been a phenomenal success.
Computing is no longer done with beige boxes connected to mains so it is not good idea to imitate that with the Pi. Kids today are no longer sitting with ZX Spectrum, C64 or Amiga at home. So 'providing a cheap computer' in such traditional sense in not that much interesting anymore.
14 million Raspberry Pi computers sold says you are very wrong about that!
Personally I think this is a bit of a blind spot of guys who grown up 30 years ago with their Spectrum/BBC/C64. Every time when some kid wants to do time lapsing video or do cool photos of birds in nature with the Pi and the best suggestion here involves booting the Pi fast and then shut it down and power off properly with some additional kit I feel something is not right.
It seems you are the one with the blind spot. But if you are sure you are right, then make your own SBC and try and compete with the Pi. Lots of others have tried and failed. It seems every year a new "Raspberry Pi Killer" comes out and then fades into obscurity, so the Pi Foundation must be doing something right. It may not meet with YOUR ideals and needs, but you can't argue with the sales numbers.
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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:29 pm

fanoush wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:07 pm

If you check what people do with the pi than quite a lot of interesting stuff mentioned on the blog is battery powered. Also today's world is mobile and we are surrounded by smart gadgets like phones, tablets, watches, fitness trackers, glasses, IOT.

Teaching kids computing with small computer attached to mains, keyboard and display is missing a lot of what happened in last 15 years. Computing is no longer done with beige boxes connected to mains so it is not good idea to imitate that with the Pi. Kids today are no longer sitting with ZX Spectrum, C64 or Amiga at home. So 'providing a cheap computer' in such traditional sense in not that much interesting anymore.

So there may be lot of other reasons why low power and good power management it is not a priority now, but not because it would 'not benefit foundations stated aims'.

Personally I think this is a bit of a blind spot of guys who grown up 30 years ago with their Spectrum/BBC/C64. Every time when some kid wants to do time lapsing video or do cool photos of birds in nature with the Pi and the best suggestion here involves booting the Pi fast and then shut it down and power off properly with some additional kit I feel something is not right.
Wow! You have completely missed the history of the Raspberry Pi. You've completely missed the reasons for Dr. Eben Upton coming up with the idea and requirement for the Raspberry Pi. You've completely missed that they've sold 19 million Raspberries. You've completely missed why I've been working in IT for 36years (after playing with a ZX80, a Spectrum, an Amstrad CPC464, and an Amstrad CPC6128 as a teenager). I don't have a blind spot, I have a mission to teach the Uni graduate apprentices all about mainframes - and the ones who know electronics and have programmed a Raspberry, Arduino or ESP8266 seem to fit the mould better.

There are sensible add-ons (like the Witty-Pi2) that can be used to save power by booting your Raspberry, taking a photo then shutting it down on a schedule. Boot time is not an issue for any of my fifteen Raspberries.

I find what you've written somewhat insulting to me and my fellow forumites, and an insult to the remarkably clever folks at the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd.
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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:05 pm

DougieLawson wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:29 pm

I find what you've written somewhat insulting to me and my fellow forumites, and an insult to the remarkably clever folks at the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd.

+100%

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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:35 pm

jamesh wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:34 pm
As I said above, the problem is that the SoC really isn't suited to low power requirements. So how do people propose getting round that?
Over years the Raspberry foundation and Broadcom people involved were constantly pulling amazing rabbits out of hats (BCM2836, then BCM2837, Pi Zero - several board revisions ended by adding camera, then the 0W, now the 3B+) but none of those great achievements were related to power management. Also in software lot of amazing stuff was done - the stuff around camera, DSI display or porting stuff to ARM side done by Eric Anholt. Also I suppose Broadcom has chips based on VC4 used in mobile phones so probably some such chip could be used as base for some Pi model. And still after 6 years the power management state is same as on the beginning. So either power management stuff is much harder than anything mentioned above and/or it cannot be done for target price point or it was not seriously considered to be important enough. So "the problem is that the SoC really isn't suited to low power requirements" is not the real problem. It is just a result.

Anyway I am not forcing my opinions on anyone and I am not trolling. When reading other replies I see people get quite easily offended by different opinions and tend to defend strongly something they like and quickly counter-attack while missing the point completely so I guess it is pointless to continue. And I can assure everyone I really did not miss all the success of Raspberry Pi, that's not the point at all :-)

The point was that power management is useful and basic computer feature in this century and it is worth teaching kids this basic concept they see everywhere around them.

Today it is almost a norm to give tablet or smartphone to even younger kids than those being targeted by Raspberry Foundation. And even the real boring computer that only grown ups use today mostly means laptop. So the most natural computer to kids of today have battery and power management as a basic feature. So teaching them that you need to fully boot computer up and then shut it down to solve a problem (like making a photo with camera) when they quite often have a computer in a pocket which is ready to do it in a second (i.e a phone) is a bit outdated today. So this is not about Arduino or ESP32 at all. It is about teaching modern concepts of how computers work today.

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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:38 pm

You're digging deeper. stop making a fool of yourself.

It costs £4.38 per year to run a Raspberry from the mains. Most of us are not using battery packs, so power management is something we don't need and don't want to pay for. I'd prefer my $35 computers to get new features that are desirable rather than things that appeal to a miniscule minority of 19 million users.
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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:54 am

fanoush wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:35 pm
And still after 6 years the power management state is same as on the beginning. So either power management stuff is much harder than anything mentioned above and/or it cannot be done for target price point or it was not seriously considered to be important enough. So "the problem is that the SoC really isn't suited to low power requirements" is not the real problem. It is just a result.
But it isn't. First off, there is a lot of internal power management done in the SoC. Unused VC4 blocks are turned off, and the VC4 is somewhere above 95% of the area of the SoC. Board power management has improved over time as well. One of the major limitations is that the LAN chip is always on (unless you run software to disable it...and lose your network and USB connections by doing so). The ARM CPUs reduce clock speed to save power on later chips. So...sorry, but you've overlooked a lot that disproves your point.
Today it is almost a norm to give tablet or smartphone to even younger kids than those being targeted by Raspberry Foundation. And even the real boring computer that only grown ups use today mostly means laptop.
Now go try to learn to program using the typical software that comes with those devices. If you manage to do that--probably by loading a completely different--and open--OS, then try to do physical computing with any of them. can't be done. No GPIO pins exposed, no access to actual hardware, only the interfaces the manufacturer provides--and darned few of those on a tablet or smartphone. Beyond that...you don't want to muck about with that hardware as it's expensive fix or replace. Plus if you "break" the software, rebuilding the system is a time consuming pain in the posterior.

Dr. Upton could a useful term for this approach. he calls it the "tablet trap".

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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:22 am

W. H. Heydt wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:54 am
But it isn't. First off, there is a lot of internal power management done in the SoC. Unused VC4 blocks are turned off, and the VC4 is somewhere above 95% of the area of the SoC. Board power management has improved over time as well. One of the major limitations is that the LAN chip is always on (unless you run software to disable it...and lose your network and USB connections by doing so). The ARM CPUs reduce clock speed to save power on later chips. So...sorry, but you've overlooked a lot that disproves your point.
On 0 to 100 scale this is number 5. With current technology (well even with 10-15 years old technology) number 95 is doable. Every Android phone is Linux computer that can sleep for weeks (or could for months with bigger battery) and wake fully on gpio trigger (button press, network packet, sensor input) and do some interesting compute intensive work like taking a photo or recording a video and then immediately go to sleep. Without need to shut down the OS and boot it up again. Apart from Android this was done previously years ago with fully open source linux stack at Nokia with Maemo. They had normal Linux kernel with Debian based distribution with X server running on ARM based SOC and the device can sit on shelf idle for 3 weeks fully booted and running Linux scheduler (i.e. no suspend to ram with all tasks freezed) waiting for your key press or screen touch. You could have your python code there sleeping in some event loop and have it running quickly when such event came. With Pi like this you could attach motion sensor to GPIO, set you wakeup source and sleep for weeks or few hundred miliseconds as needed (all e.g. in python code). I believe with enough attention this is quite doable with board like Pi.
W. H. Heydt wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:54 am
Now go try to learn to program using the typical software that comes with those devices. If you manage to do that--probably by loading a completely different--and open--OS, then try to do physical computing with any of them. can't be done. No GPIO pins exposed, no access to actual hardware
Exactly, you just proved my point. Those are devices primarily designed for something else. We need device designed for education but otherwise based on current smartphone technology, i.e. something like Raspberry Pi but with fully working power management. All working on Linux of course which is perfectly doable.

Then when kid comes with real problem of e.g. detecting a bird in the wood you show him 10 line code in python and explain that it is similar how his smartphone in his pocket works waiting for call or message and explaining how power can be saved in device like this. You spare yourself the embarrassing moment after teaching him how to shut down and boot the computer when he pulls the phone from the pocket and ask why it cannot work like this.

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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:33 am

The amount of work required to integrate Linux power management across the Arm cores AND the Videocore is huge. Multiple man months, and with no guarantee that overall performance will not suffer badly. From our point of view it's not worth the time or the risk.

That's assuming it even possible, which is not a sure thing.
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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Sat Mar 17, 2018 9:25 am

I think it's time to stop feeding the troll. He doesn't listen or care about what anyone else says, and no one is going to change his mind because he has decided we are all idiots who don't know what we are talking about and the Raspberry Pi Foundation is clueless. :roll:
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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:22 am

fanoush,
Teaching kids computing with small computer attached to mains, keyboard and display is missing a lot of what happened in last 15 years. Computing is no longer done with beige boxes connected to mains so it is not good idea to imitate that with the Pi. Kids today are no longer sitting with ZX Spectrum, C64 or Amiga at home. So 'providing a cheap computer' in such traditional sense in not that much interesting anymore.
You are missing a few important point here:

1) How do you teach programming and basic computer science to kids, or anyone, using a mobile phone or tablet? How can you do that without a decent keyboard and screen? It implies using Android or iOS which means you need at least a laptop and the appropriate IDEs. This is all to much for starting with. And very expensive.

2) The observation, made by Eben Upton years ago, was that over the decades kids had less and less access to anything that would inspire them to learn programming. The result being that kids arriving at CS courses at university had no knowledge of programming at all. Previous generations already knew the basics since they had been hacking on their computers since they were 10!

3) Turns out that providing a computer that kids can program, hack on and break has proved very interesting to them.

4) There is nothing traditional about the Pi. It's not a big beige box and it's a lot more than a C64 etc. Not to mention being a lot smaller and cheaper.

Later you say:
It is about teaching modern concepts of how computers work today.
Again I ask, how do you get a kid started learning programming using a mobile phone or tab?

Generally these devices expose nothing of how computers are programmed today.

You clearly have experience of this so I look forward to your reply.
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Re: Why not a low power Raspberry?

Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:05 am

By way of some positive contribution to this thread I offer the following:

If you really want a really low power device, with usable I/O and extreme simple programing that any beginner could use I suggest the Espruino's:
https://www.espruino.com/

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