top of page

UC Berkeley: Raspberry Pi

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

I’m currently writing this response on my Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. Am I dating myself when I say this acutely reminds me of the first PC I had growing up? ...

The layout, the (comparatively slow) speed of the GUI, and the sheer raw excitement I feel are all very reminiscent of young* me back in 1994. (You could say quarantine is very much like being grounded for not following the rules.)

It’s vastly different though, this palm sized computer and the behemoth we had in our office room- in terms of size, capacity of non-volatile memory, and (unfortunate) lack of Pavlovian joy at the initial dial-up connection to the internet. That’s ok. The fact that this ‘Pi only needs only two cords -HMDI and power- and can relatively instantly connect me to corgi YouTube’s is a nice balance. But let’s talk about the difference between this Raspberry Pi and current desktop models.

The Pi model has the CPU and RAM memory already attached to the motherboard. In desktop PC’s, if the user doesn’t buy a pre-assembled PC, one purchases their CPU independently and collects the RAM and motherboard based on their mutual compatibility. Even in the case of a pre-assembled purchase, one can still switch out the CPU/RAM/motherboard later.

Within the Pi, instead of an attached/connected fan found in desktops, included are Heatsink dispersers in which the users attach at their discretion. Just like desktop computers have a customizable, necessary case, one is only recommended to purchase a case for their Pi, albeit strongly. (I’ve mine in a lovely clear turquoise, pictured below). Desktop computers contain some sort of hard drive, be it the standard hard drive or an SSD, whereas Pi has a portable mini-SD flash drive.

Similarly, both the Pi and desktop computers have Von Neumann architecture: they both contain CPU (as stated above), memory (ibid), along with input and output elements. There are ports for SD cards, audio/visual outlets, and an HDMI connection, as far as output goes. Concerning inputs, both have multiple USB ports (which also translate to keyboard/mouse connections), and an Ethernet port. In this specific version of Raspberry Pi, I’ve both Bluetooth and wireless connections, similar to current desktop computers. The two differ in power sources: whereas desktop computers have their source internally then connect to the wall outlet, one needs a (common) charging outlet to plug into the motherboard.

While a user won’t be able to run a Raspberry Pi with the same advanced programs and fluidity of a mid-level desktop, they are able to enjoy basic uses of a computer, including programming via Python and adjusting their UI, and all for the cost of a tank of gas. A small car’s tank, at that.

As of this module, we haven’t delved into the above programming venture, and this user feels that same youthful excitement to start doing so, even at the ripe old age of *. ______________________

* age omitted

24 views0 comments


bottom of page