W. H. Heydt
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:11 am

mahjongg wrote:
W. H. Heydt wrote:
From the cost standpoint, I'm less than certain about the memory issue. The upcoming CubieTruck (CT) is slated to have a 2GB option (and, of all things, VGA out) and they're still targeting under $100. It looks to be an "everything but the kitchen sink" board.
Yes, from the cost standpoint perhaps, but not from a practical standpoint! The type of PoP RAM the PI uses (package on package, with a specific ball grid array pinout and electrical interface) simply do not exist with higher capacity than 512MB, and as makers of such RAM's have since gone on making PoP packages only for more modern SoC's they will never go back to make one for such an old SoC, unless miracles happen. But even a tenfold increase in yearly sales of the PI "miracle" won't make it happen.
I'm aware of those factors, and I agree--so long as the BCM2835 is in use, the memory will be 512MB. That is pretty much a lock-in for a "Rev. 3" board. That's why, earlier in the thread, I referred "tweaking" changes. Stuff like better voltage regulators, not changes to SoC or memory or a bunch of other things people want. Any (let alone, all) of those sorts of things will require an entirely new board, with a new(er) SoC. That's not a "revision", that's a new model.
This SoC will stay (we have established that already), and therefore the maximum memory size will stay too.

Therefore any pledge for more memory is moot. Perhaps we will see a model a with 512MB, but that is it.
Correct...for a Rev. 3.
For any "revision 3" board, I expect a few rules will apply:
For a "Rev. 3", I agree.
It will use the same SoC, therefore the same memory.
This only holds as long as the BCM2835 can be purchased. (With the minor caveat that the price has to stay the same or drop...end of life components tend to *rise* in price,and that could--conceivably--drive a new model.)
It will cost the same, or very close to the same, actually I think it will cost exactly the same....
It could, potentially, go down, but that's not terribly likely.
It will therefore also have roughly the same dimensions, (a larger PCB costs more money) actually as it probably will need to fit in existing enclosures I think it will have the exact same dimensions.
With, functionally, the same components on the board, the size will remain the same, which has the minor added advantage of retaining the same community infrastructure around it, such as cases. The only "nice to have" item on this would be rounded corners on the PCB to permit all manner of custom Altoids tin cases (that factor is, at least for now, the only thing that would cause me to buy a Beagle Bone Black...a computer in an Altoids tin).
Any improvement will primary be "better" for the intended purpose, of education.[/list]

And it's hard to see--for the intended purpose--what *could* be better. Higher default clock? Maybe. Better LAN chip? could be. Better power regulation/control? Probably. The possibilities for actual *improvement* in a true Rev. 3 are very limited. This is not to say that the Pi is perfect--it isn't--but it is very good, as one can tell from the myriad of uses to which Pis have been put.
within these restrictions there might still be some improvements possible.

perhaps we could think about those instead of "PI in the sky". :lol:
See above. Most of my broader speculation would kick in if and when the RPF decides to design a new machine. That could be driven by the BCM2838 going out of production altogether, or it could be driven by market saturation plus a sufficient drop in prices for newer SoC designs to drive a whole new board. In *that* case, the primary concern would be, I think, compatibility with the existing Pi. The same software should run on it...at least until it gets upgraded in the normal course.

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Lob0426
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 2:13 am

Sorry but a couple of more points after W.H. Heydt's comments.

The tweaks like "to regulators" would probably require a new PCB.
Rounding corners (similar to the Beagle Bone Black) would need a new PCB. That's a pretty good sized radius.
How much effort, time and money would just these small changes cost? A new BOM for sure, Testing and a change at the production lines.

Sorry but it is likely the next Revision or Model will have a different SoC. Memory size is a moot issue as it will have at least 512MB, they are not going to take a step back there if I am guessing correctly. The performance benefits of a newer ARM core, if it can be had, will drive the design. Overall cost is going to be the biggest consideration of all. I think we can bet on the $25 to $35 range is likely written in stone. It comes down to what is the work, cost and time worth?

What I think we may see. My best guess that is!
A newer ARM core not much faster in MHz. The newer ARM cores are faster at the same MHz anyway.
The Video Core IV GPU in the SoC. A lot of their time was in developing for the GPU.
I think they will try for a SoC with a native Ethernet. That way they can ditch the LAN9512 chip. Gain board space
A single USB. Again will let them ditch the LAN9512 chip and its cost and board space.
Probably still 512MB but possibly a faster type. Future possibility of more RAM. Future availability will be the factor for change.

Then they will look for what other "features" that they can fit within their budget.
More GPIO possible. More room on the board for it.
Audio In possibly. More room on the board for it.

I think the power "System" will be similar to the current versions. It works even though many of us have our reservations about it.

Keeping the GPU means they can keep the current camera. And it would reduce the time to bring the new board to market.

The problems I see with my own prediction.
That "native" Ethernet is going to require OS changes. Probably can be fixed at recompile.
Finding a SoC that has those specs.
Yep! a whole new PCB and BOM.

And I can guarantee that the Foundation is not going to tell us until they have dropped it into their distributors hands. :lol:
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Schorschi
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 2:50 am

What I suggested, is possible... the technology is moving forward, and no, it will not cost $1500. HP, Dell and IBM moonshot servers will be impressive and powerful, so it is not unreasonable to expect that some typical modular server and desktop class features will make it into the next generation of the Pi. I have 7i that trumps the above noted specification... and it was about $650, not $1500, it is a monster of system, that runs 10s of virtual machines... and the thing is a desktop! The cost has changed significantly as the i7 has aged, memory is dirt cheap, mainboards highly discounted, and with a reasonable IO controller, a massive desktop!

This thread is about suggestions... and suggestions are harmless. Of course the next Pi will be more powerful, have more memory, it will likely have better USB and Ethernet features/suppport to address some of the real issues of the current design. The ARM 8 processor will support considerable memory, read the specification, and will be a major leap in computational power. Adding a SATA port to the next generation of Pi is a significant idea as well for flexibility of DAS devices, and why anyone would say USB 3.0 support is unreasonable for next generation of Pi, is a bit odd, if not stunted thinking? Maybe the key feature for the next Pi for me, for what I do with the Pi as media appliance, is 1Gb Ethernet. Whereas the Pi as a home brew project driver, which I use to drive a ton of stuff in my home... the Model B could benefit from analog GPIO support, more PWM support would be nice as well, so when the kids are integrating Pi to remote control subsystems, etc., it would be easier to integrate motor control, Lego NXT sensors, and other similar projects.

So, much of what has been suggested by everyone in this thread is possible... frankly, and most of it is dirt cheap at a component level. I have great faith that the wizards of Pi will do something insanely wonderful. So suggesting... that asking for more, as suggestions is... somehow out of line? No... I am not looking for a desktop class system in a Pi form factor, but then again... maybe a step closer to what a typical desktop has today... might not be a bad thing to consider... the Pi is not used by only kids... but many adults... so a version of the Pi for those older than 21?

Why the heck not? Even better as an entire generation of Pi kids grow up... give them a more grown up Pi? Apple Computer did the same thing from the Apple I to the IIgs, to the Macintosh... and made billions... not to suggest Pi is a profit vehicle, it is not, but when a 2.0 Model B is impressive at age 12... What would be impressive at age 16? What at 20? Something above and beyond a Model B... right?

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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 6:11 am

The price range the Foundation seems to like is $25 to $35. Some of the features you suggest are out there. On $50 to $70 boards. And some of the boards are $200+.

That is why we think a lot of features will not be able to make the cut for a newer RasPi, price.

Some features, like USB 3.0 would require board space (extra chip required), cost (relatively new to the market) and questions whether any real performance gain would be seen (USB is very processor heavy), and higher current requirement (USB 2.0 is max 500ma, 3.0 is 900ma). These things mean it just is not going to be suitable for a RasPi anytime in the near future. At least that is my read on it.

Would USB 3.0 be great, yes it would. But you have to find a way around the problems first.

A SATA connector; available on the Cubieboard. It is supported by the A10/A20 SoC's so it is a matter of finding space for the connector. If the Foundation found such a chip, in its price range, it would probably add SATA as a feature. If the SoC fit into its budget for a new board. The other factor is they would have to require a higher current PSU to power the the HDD. So the added cost for the consumer, the power connector would have to be changed, a lower availability of proper PSU's could mean the RasPi no longer fits he Foundation goals.

Adding features is a lot harder than it sounds. I am probably only scratching the surface of reasons of what it takes to add a feature to the board. Every feature means a new PCB (board) design and a new BOM (Bill of Materials?). I have no idea of the problems that they face laying out traces for all the stuff we want on a board and making sure it does not interfere with something else.

So some features make sense for them to try for and some just do not make sense at all, mostly because price will be the deciding factor for the Foundation. Price is why they changed the Alpha board from switching regulators that could be powered by 6V to 20V and changed the production boards to be powered by cell phone chargers. The Alpha would have been a much more versatile board, but it just was not in the cards for the production models!

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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:21 am

I would suggest:
* fixing the audio quality from the audio jack.
* fixing the issue that inserting a USB device causes the system to reboot
* replacing the SD card slot with something of higher quality

I mentioned these in a different "future pi" thread:
* providing a bare minimum, entry level, clear plastic case
* adding a single, momentary contact switch that informs the GPU to boot recovery at startup and is user defined after boot

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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:39 am

Extra Credit:
* 4GB flash on-board with NOOBS factory installed

AlDante
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:42 am

Second those, OtherCrashOverride! (Although I have never had problems plugging in USB devices).

And FWIW, my wishes are modest: lower power consumption and an onboard A/D converter. The PI is often used in projects requiring analog sensors and this would make interfacing to those sensors easier.

Next on the list would be 1G Ethernet (requiring changing the LAN9512). WLAN is easy with a USB dongle, but what about XBee on-board?

Two items which could be dropped from my point of view are the RCA and audio sockets (as audio is available on HDMI) but they are probably required for other markets.

Heater
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:04 am

What any new Pi version needs is .... heat sinks.

Ive noticed that a lot of Pi users like to add heat sinks. Heat sink add-ons for the Pi are available from all over the place.

Heat sinks are what users are demanding so don't forget the heat sinks:)

Oh, and can I put in a request that the new Pi comes on a red circuit board. Green is so old fashioned.
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:31 am

Bump the (256MB) model A to 512MB RAM like the model B .. it'll happen sooner or later anyway.

Oakham
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:42 am

The Pi is a great educational tool and at a price for use worldwide, why add features to make it an out-of-the-box computer ? defeats the point of the RPF original goal

Surely attempting to get more out of the Pi than was envisaged is to be praised !

As already said all the "must you really have" features are available in other products................................
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:24 am

Oakham wrote:why add features to make it an out-of-the-box computer ?
It makes the difference between something a person will continue to use versus something a person will play with for a bit and then tuck away in a parts bin. There is also the concept of 'barrier to entry' which is very high for the RPi. If its too complicated at the start, it may dissuade further use.

So here is how I see it applied to my suggestions:

* fixing the audio quality from the audio jack.
- Prevents the need for adding a USB sound device and the ALSA/PulseAudio confusion that accompanies it

* fixing the issue that inserting a USB device causes the system to reboot
- Prevents SD card corruption and end user surprise as USB is expected to be hot pluggable

* replacing the SD card slot with something of higher quality
- Prevents breaking your PI from the 'normal' wear and tear of an *educational* product where SD cards are swapped often

* providing a bare minimum, entry level, clear plastic case
- Prevents static damage from handling the device and prevents shorting it out from placing it on something conductive. Both of which may be a surprise to the uninitiated.

* adding a single, momentary contact switch that informs the GPU to boot recovery at startup and is user defined after boot
- Allows a shutdown button to be implemented to prevent SD card corruption and a simple way for the user to get back to factory defaults when something goes wrong. Currently NOOBS has to initialize the USB hub and enumerate devices before it can tell if the 'recovery key' is pressed.

* 4GB flash on-board with NOOBS factory installed
- Turn it on and it works! Mess it up and you can restore without requiring access to a PC with a SD card slot and installing imaging software.

(mentioned earlier)
* SDK
- Allows the use of more robust development tools and environments on a full featured PC rather than the complications and limitations of developing on the device itself. If you make it easier to program, maybe more people will.

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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:32 am

I guess its ironic that currently this device that is supposed to teach kids about computers requires them to know a great deal about computers before they even turn it on.

Heater
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:35 am

The SDK thing is the most absurd idea:

1) The whole motivation for the Pi is that it's cheap enough for kids to have one so that they can hack on it with out needing to tie up the family PC.

2) The "family PC" seems to be a dieing breed now anyway. Now that people realize they don't need such a device for their everyday surfing and socializing.

3) The Pi is it's own SDK. Linux distributions come with a huge array of programming languages and development tools.
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Heater
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:41 am

OtherCrashOverride
I guess its ironic that currently this device that is supposed to teach kids about computers requires them to know a great deal about computers before they even turn it on.
I don't think this is true at all.

The getting started instructions for the Pi are easy peasy. Even if you know almost nothing about computers I believe any literate person, child or not, can step through that.

I don't see it as being any harder than the Philips Engineer kit I was building radios and such with at age 9.
http://ee.old.no/20/
Perhaps I had no idea how those transistors and other components worked but I could get quite complex things working easily by following the instructions. Curiosity then takes over and you want to figure out how it works...
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:51 am

Heater wrote:The SDK thing is the most absurd idea:
I guess I see it as an avenue for those who wish to expand their programming skills beyond novice levels. It would be nice if the RPi was a self sustaining device that could replace the "family PC" but currently that is more idealistic than realistic.
Heater wrote:I don't see it as being any harder than the Philips Engineer kit I was building radios and such with at age 9.
If the world was the same as it was then, we would have no need for the RPi. As stated by Eben in the Ted link i posted earlier, the RPi was created to address the change (lack of technical skills).

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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 12:12 pm

I don't think we have even began to see the PI in its educational role, remember that we are still waiting for the "educational release" of the PI that was announced at the start but still has not happened. !
from the FAQ
At this time, there is no official case. The education release later in 2013 will have a case by default.
If there will be a "revision 3 PI", it will probably come when that will happen. And will probably fix some remaining issues that prevent easy use by scholars.

As for obsolesce of the SoC, its obsolete now! That is why it is as cheap as it is. But supplies of them will probably last as long as there is demand for the PI.

So yes, I don't see a "model C" happen (anytime soon, if ever).
That doesn't mean that a "rev 3" won't have any attraction for other users, if it happens.

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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 12:18 pm

You can go well beyond "novice levels" of programming on a Pi alone. Just as people did back in the BBC micro era. The Pi has the power of the PC I was using, well, seems like yesterday...

"If the world was the same as then..." Then there would be no computers around and ten year olds would be dreaming about them like I and many others did.

I seem to remember coming out of the library with a book for kids about how computers worked, including a section on how to build a "computer" out of a rotary telephone dial and other bits. Well something that could add two numbers together at least. Wish I could find that book again.

"If the world was the same as then..." Kids would have no technical skill but they would be able to read well enough to assemble a pile of bits into amazing things given clear instructions to get them started.
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 12:22 pm

lazarus78 wrote:The Pi is great as is. There are a ton of add-on adapters to expand the functionality of the headers and whatnot, so really, if you want an electronics project, you are looking at the wrong device.

If they make a version 3, or model C, or whatever, the only thing I would like to see would be more ram and MAYBE another stack of USB ports just because. But really, 1GB alone would be an insta-buy for me. Also a black PCB would be sweet too. The drab green isnt very exciting. lol.
Agree with this. The pi kick started an explosion of cool but let's be honest, its kinda pricey for what it is now in 2013 and short of producing a £50 or £100 version that has all the bells and whistles people crave (native SATA etc), I don't see how it could be any more finished than it is.

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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 12:29 pm

Heater wrote:I seem to remember coming out of the library with a book for kids about how computers worked, including a section on how to build a "computer" out of a rotary telephone dial and other bits. Well something that could add two numbers together at least. Wish I could find that book again.
I had that same experience! I wonder what that book was. I recall it fascinated me to no end.

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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:04 pm

Oakham wrote:The Pi is a great educational tool and at a price for use worldwide, why add features to make it an out-of-the-box computer ? defeats the point of the RPF original goal

Surely attempting to get more out of the Pi than was envisaged is to be praised !

As already said all the "must you really have" features are available in other products................................
Actually, we made a thread a long time ago called something along the lines of "what would you like to see in the next one" or some such, we have no problem with people talking about what they would like to see and it's always fun to speculate.

Of coruse if anything people list is something they need pronto, then yeah the answer will be "sorry, look at one of the other similar products!" :lol:

Unfortunately, a lot of the requests being made (such as the Gig lan, additional memory) would require an entirely different SoC so I don't really ever see that happening. (Where ever is defined as a time span of many years based of currently available equipment, not eternity). The thing that has made the pi so successful is the community that has been built up around it. Unless there is another ARMv6 SoC out there that uses the same or at least *very* similar pinout but provides additional RAM capacity and a USB 3.0 (or a dedicated LAN interface) then a change in the main SoC would break a *ton* of that hard work. Now eventually, could I see an SoC upgrade? Sure, it would require a complete reworking of the PCB and would quite effectively be an entirely new product put out by the RPF, which brings us right back to my not ever happening statement.

So by all means speculate away and let us know what is most pressing to you... just don't expect major revisions to happen :lol:
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:07 pm

OtherCrashOverride,

Great. I was beginning to think I imagined that computer book for kids/telephone dialer thing.

How on earth are we ever going to find it again?
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:21 pm

OtherCrashOverride wrote:So here is how I see it applied to my suggestions:

* fixing the audio quality from the audio jack.
- Prevents the need for adding a USB sound device and the ALSA/PulseAudio confusion that accompanies it
I'm not sure what you mean by this one, I use the 3.5mm jack to stream pandora (internet radio) with no problem whatsoever. It's not ultra high fidelity audio, but it's a 3.5mm audio jack.
* fixing the issue that inserting a USB device causes the system to reboot
- Prevents SD card corruption and end user surprise as USB is expected to be hot pluggable
This tends to happen with high powered device (in my personal experience), I agree that it would be nice in a future revision to put either a couple ohm resistor in place of the zero ohm one that presently exists by the USB to prevent that suddent high current draw, and/or some small capacitors. There's also been some discussion that a very small capacitor on the SD slot itself would help stabalize things when you're overclocking.
* replacing the SD card slot with something of higher quality
- Prevents breaking your PI from the 'normal' wear and tear of an *educational* product where SD cards are swapped often
This might have been the first time I've *ever* heard this one. As someone who does nonstop swapping of SD cards I've not even encountered a slight wiggle from the pi I got from the very first batch! Let alone any of the rest. Sounds like you got a defective one (sorry, but it happens, that's what RMAs are for)
* providing a bare minimum, entry level, clear plastic case
- Prevents static damage from handling the device and prevents shorting it out from placing it on something conductive. Both of which may be a surprise to the uninitiated.
This would raise the cost of all the pi beyond the price point. However both distributors provide cases that can be purchased along with the pi so for the individual who wants to buy one, they certainly can pay the additional fee rather than making all of us who don't want a case foot the cost along with you.
* adding a single, momentary contact switch that informs the GPU to boot recovery at startup and is user defined after boot
- Allows a shutdown button to be implemented to prevent SD card corruption and a simple way for the user to get back to factory defaults when something goes wrong. Currently NOOBS has to initialize the USB hub and enumerate devices before it can tell if the 'recovery key' is pressed.
Neat idea, but necessary? Ultiamtely it would just tie back to a GPIO which would then be checked in the exact same manner as the key press so it seems rather redundant.
* 4GB flash on-board with NOOBS factory installed
- Turn it on and it works! Mess it up and you can restore without requiring access to a PC with a SD card slot and installing imaging software.
If a small amount of on board memory were to be placed on the board, there are much more important things that would be placed into it, but more importantly, this would again take us past the price point and would quickly become as annoyingly outdated as those silly pre-imaged SD cards that people buy. Which are also available from both retailers at the time of purchase, which again make me think, why make all of us pay for the very few who don't want to/too lazy to/possibly can't image an SD card themselves? For those individuals they can get one of the pre-imaged cards and it would be just as effective as the built in flash. :-)


(mentioned earlier)
* SDK
- Allows the use of more robust development tools and environments on a full featured PC rather than the complications and limitations of developing on the device itself. If you make it easier to program, maybe more people will.[/quote]
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 2:37 pm

Don't get me wrong. These are not things that *I* want. They are suggestions for rev 3. To be clear: I am not levying complaints against the device that need defending or justifying.

For my personal needs, I have done as others and moved on to 'other' boards as my primary interest. So again, these are not demands. Someone said "suggestions welcome", so I offered.

Oakham
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:46 pm

I say again the Pi is OK as is, so many issues have been fixed in Raspbian and Arch Distro's since they were first released.

Maybe the whingers should get the first release of Raspbian to compare to the most recent release, and then they would realise that because of the Pi price point so many people have got involved, and helped....

Oh! sorry the above comment goes against I want more for less and have it yesterday brigade

These seem to be the answer, bet they cost ££££££££'s:

http://www.win-ent.com/embedded-computi ... 60830.html

http://www.habeyusa.com/products/emb-37 ... eries-soc/
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Re: Suggestions for version 3

Sun Aug 25, 2013 6:24 pm

OtherCrashOverride wrote:There is also the concept of 'barrier to entry' which is very high for the RPi. If its too complicated at the start, it may dissuade further use.
I agree this may be where the RPF could do some improvements, there are a few things I have in mind which could improve things.
* fixing the audio quality from the audio jack.
- Prevents the need for adding a USB sound device and the ALSA/PulseAudio confusion that accompanies it
Unfortunately the quality of the PWM outputs, when talking about bits per sample, is fixed. The PI has very good audio when using HDMI, the audio jack is simply a backup solution. That said the signal could use some buffering, and perhaps more filtering. For better than 12-bit analog audio there is a solution already in place, but it seems to be suffering from unfamiliarity. I'm talking about the fact that the PI actually has a high quality digital audio interface (I2S) all it needs is the digital to analog translation chip (codec) and some connectors. The codec it6self was an option that was removed to get the price down to the current level, but the I2S interface was re-instated with the revision 2 PI.
* fixing the issue that inserting a USB device causes the system to reboot
- Prevents SD card corruption and end user surprise as USB is expected to be hot pluggable
This can be easily done by inserting a few resistors of a fraction of an ohm, plus a single large capacitor near the USB ports. In fact we more or less had it with the revision 1 boards, in the form of the USB polyfuses that acted as these resistors. Unfortunately it's a balancing act as too large resistors will bring back the same issue (voltage drops) that the polyfuses were removed for in the first place, and too small resistors may not help in all cases, if the power hungry and badly designed USB device can draw a rush-in current that the resistor cannot limit to the safe value that the capacitor can deliver, then a power-crash can still happen. The reason that you don't see this problem much with PC's is that they have far much stronger (50 Amps or more) power supplies that have no problem to rush an ampere or more to the USB port momentarily.
Still I think that, for example, two tiny 0.1 Ohm resistor and a 470uF elco could help reduce the problem so that most simple devices like keyboards, and memory sticks wont cause a reset. I expect this to happen, but be assured the RPF is very concerned about a return of the previous polyfuse troubles, so they will be careful with reinstating any resistance.
* replacing the SD card slot with something of higher quality
- Prevents breaking your PI from the 'normal' wear and tear of an *educational* product where SD cards are swapped often
I don't think the current card holder is as dramatically bad as you imply here, but as with anything better quality comes with a higher price. Currently the holders I have seen seems to be fine, as long as you don't drop the PI on a hard surface with a card in the holder, and the card in the holder captures the impact, thereby breaking the card holder. For normal wear and tear the holders I have seen seem adequate. Its possible that between different releases of the PI, and/or different manufacturers the quality may have differed.
* providing a bare minimum, entry level, clear plastic case
- Prevents static damage from handling the device and prevents shorting it out from placing it on something conductive. Both of which may be a surprise to the uninitiated.
Static isn't as big an issue as people think, and a case doesn't necessarily prevents ESD mishaps, its possible to discharge into an exposed connector just as well. Even a minimal hard plastic case would cost several dollars. But I heard the educational release will come with a very simple case (perhaps also because maybe the PI that comes with it will have a slightly different form factor, and won't fit in existing cases, but that is my own speculation). As for shorting on the underside, a much cheaper solution (pennies) would be four rubber stick-on feet, that would already be sufficient.
* adding a single, momentary contact switch that informs the GPU to boot recovery at startup and is user defined after boot
Actually that feature already exists, there is one GPIO pin that is programmed as an input, and has its own pullup resistor. Its the RxD pin. Opposite it there is a GND pin, by placing a jumper between the RxD and the GND pin you pull it down, and the boot software recognizes this as a special condition, and starts up in a special "safe mode" specifically equipped to act as a recovery console.
- Allows a shutdown button to be implemented to prevent SD card corruption and a simple way for the user to get back to factory defaults when something goes wrong.
I don't see the use, what would be useful instead is support for safe power down, a pin that controls the "off function" of a "smart power supply", that goes "active" just after completing shutdown, but otherwise is inactive from the start.
Currently NOOBS has to initialize the USB hub and enumerate devices before it can tell if the 'recovery key' is pressed.
See my previous comment on recovery mode entry, but without a keyboard to control recovery functions entering a recovery mode is also a bit pointless
* 4GB flash on-board with NOOBS factory installed
- Turn it on and it works! Mess it up and you can restore without requiring access to a PC with a SD card slot and installing imaging software.
Actually this idea has a bit of merit, but I would rather use a more tiny amount (few hundred Kilobyte) that can be placed in a cheap serial EEPROM, (one that uses the same SPI interface as the SD-card boots with), perhaps its therefore possible to use the GPU's boot code to boot from that EEPROM. It could contain the equivalent of a BIOS, which could assist in alternative boot methods, and could initiate a text console that tells the user what happens during initial boot loading, so he isn't "blind" as he is now when the card won't boot. Perhaps its possible with something more substance than a single ACK LED what is wrong when booting fails. That would assure people that their PI is "alive".
* SDK
- Allows the use of more robust development tools and environments on a full featured PC rather than the complications and limitations of developing on the device itself. If you make it easier to program, maybe more people will.
That's wholly against the spirit of the PI. The PI is designed as a replacement for the existing PC, so that a kid can work with it without fear of corrupting a PC.
Robust development tools can already run on the PI itself.

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