How low can we go? Introducing the $9 Linux computer!

The potential of the CHIP is fantastic and it'll bring Linux to the masses everywhere


With the release of the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B priced at $35 and its predecessor, the Raspberry Pi Model B+, having recently had its price dropped to $25 you might have thought a cheaper computer of equal capabilities would be hard to find. But now along comes CHIP, a $9 Linux computer!


$9 may seem implausibly low but the computer’s  developers are quite serious and so is the public: Launched on Kickstarter 9 days ago that campaign was looking for looking for $50,000 and, as of writing CHIP has acquired 25,283 backers for a total of $1,307,159 and the campaign still has 21 days to go

The specs of CHIP are ambitious: a 1GHz Allwinner A13 Compatible SOC with a Mali400GPU with OpenGLES 2.0 and OpenVG 1.1, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of flash storage with 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 support. The board will have composite video output and adapters for VGA and HDMI will be available. The OS for CHIP will be Debian Linux-based and the hardware, just like the software, will be open source.

A neat aspect of the design is the CHIP’s integrated battery power circuit so the computer can be powered by any 3.7V LiPo.

The campaign offers a CHIP with a VGA cable $9 for January 2016 delivery (the December 2015 delivery option has been sold out) while $19 gets you a CHIP plus a 3,000 mAh LiPo or a VGA adapter (May ’16 delivery), and $24 gets you a CHIP with an HDMI adapter.

screen shot 2015 05 15 at 6.05.35 pm

Another neat option offered by the campaign is Pocket CHIP, a housing for the CHIP that adds a QERTY keyboard, a 4.3” touchscreen and a battery that can power the system for 5 hours. The case also has a built-in GPIO breakout which will make it easy to interface to all sorts of devices. Scheduled for May 2016 delivery, this option is priced at $49.

The potential of this computer is obvious. For education it will make computer technology accessible to any school no matter how tight their budget and its potential for third world uses is staggering. This is a Kickstarter campaign every geek should be excited about and support.

So, what do you think? Will you support the campaign? Have you got any great ideas about what you’d do with a $9 computer that runs mainstream Linux?

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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