“To make C.H.I.P. for $9 we need to buy components in extremely large quantities,” Dave Rauchwerk, one member of the Next Thing Co. team, said on the startup’s Kickstarter video. The company said it hopes to source a key component, the system-on-chip for C.H.I.P.’s development board, through a China-based fabless semiconductor firm called Allwinner Technology.
“To sell C.H.I.P. for $9, we need to order tens of thousands of chips,” Next Thing Co. said on Kickstarter. “By using common, available and volume-produced processor, memory, and Wi-Fi chips, we are able to leverage the scales at which tablet manufacturers operate to get everyone the best price.”
PocketC.H.I.P. Adds Portability
Featuring a 1 GHz processor with 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage, C.H.I.P. will come with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, and can be connected wirelessly to a keyboard and mouse, the company said.
With the addition of either a VGA or HDMI adapter, the C.H.I.P. can be connected to any size screen. Combined with a molded shell PocketC.H.I.P. case (a $40 add-on) that features a 4.3-inch touchscreen, QWERTY keyboard and five-hour, 3,000 mAH battery, C.H.I.P. can also be turned into an on-the-go computer.
“We built C.H.I.P. to make tiny, powerful computers more accessible and easier to use,” according information on the company’s Kickstarter page. The company said both C.H.I.P. and PocketC.H.I.P. will be totally open source. “This means all hardware design files schematic, PCB layout and bill of materials are free for you the community to download, modify and use,” according to the company.
General Availability in 2016
Some of those watching C.H.I.P.’s development are already describing the mini-computer as a potential rival to Raspberry Pi, another single-board computer first released in 2012 with prices starting at $25. Developed by the U.K.-based Raspberry Pi Foundation, an educational charity, the Raspberry Pi was built with the goal of promoting computer and science education for both children and adults.
The team behind C.H.I.P. is targeting a similarly broad audience, from students and teachers to “makers, hackers and inventors.” C.H.I.P. is designed to support a wide variety of applications, from document, spreadsheet and presentation editing to Chromium-browser-based Web surfing, code instruction (it’s pre-loaded with the programming language Scratch), gaming, music-playing and “tons of apps.”
Running a fast-boot, Debian-based version of the Linux operating system, C.H.I.P. is scheduled to ship to Kickstarter supporters starting in December of this year. The Next Thing Co. said Kernel Hacker backers will be able to get hold of the mini-computer earlier — by September — while everyone else will be able to purchase the device starting next year.