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C.H.I.P. is the world's first $9 microcomputer

by Mark Tyson on 8 May 2015, 15:26

Tags: Kickstarter

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A new Kickstarter project for a tiny bare bones microcomputer was launched a few hours ago. The computer is called C.H.I.P. and designed by a firm called the Next Thing Co. The device has a number of attractive properties, not least its price – it claims to be "The World's First Nine Dollar Computer". It runs Linux and the makers will ship it with Debian installed alongside "dozens of applications and tools".

C.H.I.P. has proved to be very popular already and pledges have leapt past its initial goal of $50,000 in funding to reach $155,000 with 29 days left of the campaign. Despite its very small footprint of just 60 x 40mm (2.3 x 1.5-inches), the designers of C.H.I.P. have managed to pack in lots of user friendly functionality and connectivity options.

Key specifications of the C.H.I.P. microcomputer are as follows:

  • 1GHz Allwinner A13 processor with integrated Mali400 GPU
  • 512MB of DDR3 RAM
  • 4GB of NAND flash storage built-in
  • A full-sized USB port
  • A Micro USB port with OTG can also supply 5V DC power input/battery charging
  • A jack with a microphone that doubles as a composite video-out
  • Built-in Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Debian Linux based OS with "dozens of applications and tools preinstalled"
  • Open source hardware with all hardware design files schematic, PCB layout and bill of materials available to download, modify and use

Portable battery powered Pocket C.H.I.P.

A number of accessories to enhance your C.H.I.P. are available from the outset. Firstly there are a pair of optional video out boards so you aren't limited to composite video. There's a VGA one for $10 and an HDMI one for $15. There a matching 3,000mAh battery that "lasts for hours". The coolest accessory however is the Pocket C.H.I.P. which is provides portability (including that battery, providing 5hrs usage in this case), a 4.3-inch 16 million colour 470px x 272px touch screen and thumb keyboard all in one portable package. A Pocket C.H.I.P. including the computer and battery is available from $49.

The Next Thing Co. says that working closely with the team at Allwinner Technology has enabled it to provide all the documentation and source code for the System on Chip and Power Management Chips used in C.H.I.P. for the community. This same partner has "worked hard" to help make the product at a very reasonable price by using commonly available and volume-produced processor, memory, and Wi-Fi chips.

As mentioned in the intro, this is a Kickstarter project. The team behind it says that alpha units will be available to developers in September this year, 5000 x $9 backer units should ship in December with further units and accessories estimated to ship a year from now.

HEXUS Forums :: 8 Comments

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Its interesting but to get it to a meaningful usable state (ie output to a half decent monitor) your looking at a base of $9 plus $15 (for HDMI) = $24. Its getting near pi territory for that money and with the pi you have more inputs / outputs but you do have to add your own SD card which has positives (more space) and negatives (cost of an SD card on top of pi).
Take a look at the shipping costs to the UK. $20 for just the bare board!
Sounds like the old ebay scam.

£0.99 product £20 shipping. No refund on shipping
They'll be giving computers away soon free with packs of breakfast serial! :juggle:
Allwinner has issues with violating various licensing schemes they've signed on to, including the basic Linux GPL. Most people probably aren't aware of the issues, and many more probably won't care, given the low price. But they should be aware that the main item in this device (the SoC) is the product of a lot of indifference and outright theft. It's the only way they can manufacture and sell these chips at $5.00 and less.

That The Next Thing Company is choosing to partner with this company doesn't speak very highly of them. At least not to me. Research and follow your conscience before pledging even $9.00.