It's been the most highly anticipated launch in the history of development boards, but one of the most problem-ridden too. Originally unveiled early last year with a suggested launch schedule of September 2011, the Raspberry Pi single-board computer has proven a beast to get out of the door - but the first retail models are finally landing in customers' hands this week.
The brainchild of Broadcom engineer Eben Upton and Elite-creator David Braben, the Raspberry Pi promises much: for the bargain-basement price of just $35, you get a powerful system with high-performance graphics, general-purpose input-output capabilities, HDMI video output with 1080p full HD support, and more.
Compared to rival development boards like the open-source Beagleboard or Samsung's Exynos-based Origen, the Pi has a clear advantage in its price. Sitting somewhere at between a third and a quarter the cost of its rivals - and, in some cases, a tenth or less - it's exquisitely affordable.
That, of course, is the point: the Pi is the product of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a not-for-profit charity which aims to further the cause of computing in education by providing low-cost and highly-hackable devices for experimentation. It's a noble goal, and one which will see a higher-profile launch later this year with supporting materials for educational establishments.
It's a launch the Foundation is hoping will prove smoother the second time around. Since its announcement, the Pi has been beset by delays thanks to last-minute board changes, a move to foreign manufacturing, a production error in the Ethernet jacks and the requirement for the board to go through compliance testing.