In brief: The Raspberry Pi Foundation has seen demand for all Pi models surge in recent weeks as people are turning to the inexpensive DIY board for remote learning and home projects. But that’s not the only segment interested in the affordable hardware.
Ventilator manufacturers are reportedly turning to the company’s ultra-affordable Raspberry Pi Zero to help power the life-saving devices. According to Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton, this is the first time (to his knowledge) that Pi boards are being used in medical devices.
Because the foundation is able to rapidly scale manufacturing, they may be able to beat other chip suppliers like Intel to the punch.
Upton said they “build to stock” rather than “building to order,” so they generally have products either on hand or in the pipeline with short lead times. Even still, the sudden demand for products has resulted in some Pi Zero shortages.
The Raspberry Pi Zero packs a single-core Broadcom BCM2835 processor clocked at 1GHz alongside 512MB of RAM for just $5. The Raspberry Pi Zero W, meanwhile, adds wireless Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for just five bucks more.
Upton said the foundation shipped 1.75 million Pi units in Q1 2020. With regard to the Pi Zero line specifically, the foundation pumped out 192,000 units in the first quarter but aims to push that figure to 250,000 units moving forward.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation isn’t the first tech giant to lend a hand to the struggling medical industry. Dyson, Tesla, Razer, Maingear and a whole host of others have also diverted manufacturing efforts to help in the fight against Covid-19.