Chip: a $9 computer

Can you beat the price of a Raspberry Pi? Recently, the small firm Next Thing Co. (a team of nine artists and engineers) introduced the 'Chip' at Kickstarter. A 'single-board'-computer for the price of... nine US dollars.

The board is Open Hardware, runs a flavor of Debian Linux, and boasts a 1Ghz R8 ARM processor, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of eMMC storage. It is more powerful than a Raspberry Pi B+. Even better, it comes with built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, and the ease in which it can be made portable, thanks to circuitry that handles battery operation.

If you’re wondering how Chip could be this inexpensive, you can thank cheap Chinese tablets. The System-on-Chip used in the development board is based on an A13 processor by Allwinner, a Shenzhen-based semiconductor company. As recently as 2013, Allwinner was the second largest tablet manufacturer in the world, and the A13 was the most successful processor in Allwinner’s lineup.

Try it now — query for “a13-based tablets” and you’ll discover sub-fifty dollar devices at clock speeds near that of Chip. Allwinner was looking to redesign their successful A13 processor in a new, smaller form factor as a cheaper system-on-chip. It is this new chip, called the R8, that Next Thing received early access to and used in its board design.

The Kickstarter in the meantime now has more than 10,000 'backers' and has passed it's aim by six hundred thousand dollar, so we will certainly see the Chip getting in production soon. Just remember the days of the Apple I: it sold for 666,66 US dollar, had 4 KB standard RAM, expandable to 8 KB on-board. That was in 1976, so nearly 40 years ago

(Source-partially: Makezine, David Scheltema)