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£4 Pi Zero is the smallest, cheapest Raspberry Pi ever

Tom Morgan
26 Nov 2015

Seriously compact Pi Zero single-board micro PC could be just the thing for hobbyists and anyone looking to learn about code

The £30 Raspberry Pi 2 barebones computer isn’t exactly expensive, but the Raspberry Pi Foundation has managed to drop the price even further for the new entry-level model. The Pi Zero costs just £4, making it one of the cheapest computers ever.

The smallest Raspberry Pi yet, the Pi Zero is a miniscule 65x30mm – that’s a fifth of the size of the original Pi. It’s also only 5mm thick, meaning you’ll be able to fit one into cases and places too small for the older Pi. The board uses mini connectors to save on space, meaning you’ll need to buy Mini HDMI to HDMI and Micro USB to USB adapters if you don’t have them already. Online stockists including Element14 and The Pi Hut are selling bundles that include the necessary cables, but even if you buy a bundle the Zero is still a third of the price of a Pi 2.

The Pi Zero may be cheaper, but it's certainly not compromised. The new computer is actually 40% more powerful than the original Raspberry Pi, with a 1GHz Broadcom BCM2835 processor and 512MB of RAM. There’s a microSD card slot for installing Raspbian or another lightweight Linux distribution, two Micro USB ports for data and power, and the Mini HDMI socket supports 1,920x1,080 resolution displays at 60Hz. The Raspberry Pi foundation has kept the 40pin GPIO header, although it doesn't have pins attached.

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There have been a few sacrifices in the name of cost and size reduction; the camera and display interfaces have been removed, along with the 4-pole stereo plug and composite video port, although there are still RCA headers on the board if you want to solder connections yourself.

The Pi Zero expands the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s aim of providing low-cost computing for everyone. The stripped-down components mainly target users with specific use cases in mind, rather than the Pi 2’s more general-purpose approach, and the computer is more suited to Internet of Things-style applications and other embedded tasks.

Even with this in mind, the Raspberry Pi Foundation expects demand to outstrip supply. The Pi Zero is being built in Wales, with “several tens of thousands” of units produced so far, and the first shipment expected to arrive in UK shops in mid-December.

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