C.H.I.P. – The world’s first $9 minicomputer
Thousands of Kickstarter backers are rallying in support for a microcomputer campaign that is promising a whole new level of microcomputing.
The field of microcomputing is getting competitive, as more and more manufacturers join the race to the bottom of computer size and cost. Last year we saw the launch of several new Raspberry Pi competitors including the MIPS Creator CI20, while the Pi-makers have upped their game by lowering size, cost and power usage in the A+.
Now, a Kickstarter-funded microcomputer is raising the benchmark with the smallest and cheapest product in its market.
The C.H.I.P. minicomputer has a 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage, and also comes equipped with WiFi and Bluetooth, making it roughly on par with the Raspberry Pi B+ and MIPS Creator CI20. With a full-size USB port, it fulfils the most basic requirements for a desktop computer. Running on Linux, the C.H.I.P. also comes pre-installed with a number of open-source apps, tools and games.
All this for $9, you’re asking? Thanks to a collaboration with the Chinese semiconductor manufacturer Allwinner Technology and a high production quantity, the C.H.I.P. makers have been able to compress the price even lower than the Raspberry Pi.
The manufacturers are aiming to have the first units ready for backers in May 2016. Although many Kickstarter ideas fail to see the light of day, this campaign has already made 1.4 million dollars more than their required $50,000 goal, meaning there’s no doubt that this computer will be shaking up the microcomputer market. The last time a Kickstarter campaign overshot its goals by that much, Facebook bought the idea for $2 billion.
Portable open-source education
The creators of C.H.I.P. are making programming education for children a focus of the new microcomputer. By pre-installing the programming language Scratch, the computer can be used to learn the essentials of programming. But the developers emphasise that the project is about far more than education.
C.H.I.P. is a computer for students, teachers, grandparents, children, artists, makers, hackers, and inventors. Everyone really. C.H.I.P. is a great way to add a computer to your life and the perfect way to power your computer based projects.
Music technicians may also be interested in its capacity to function as a portable music player.
For mobile use, they are presenting Pocket C.H.I.P., a means of making the computer fully portable with a colour touchscreen, keyboard and a battery life of five hours. Both C.H.I.P. and Pocket C.H.I.P. are open source, meaning that enthusiasts can tweak it to make it run Ubuntu for example.