The Raspberry Pi Zero also helps in the fight with the coronavirus: respirators also take advantage of this $ 5 miniPC

Respirators have become a key element in the fight against coronavirus, and the lawsuit in the face of an avalanche of cases has caused many companies to end up needing peculiar components to try to supply new respirators.

One of those components is the Raspberry Pi Zero, the small miniPC that is a special and more compact version of the already tiny Raspberry Pi. Eben Upton, creator and CEO of the company, explained that the production of these plates has grown remarkably in order to respond to that specific market need.

A modest but versatile miniPC

The Raspberry Pi Zero are a peculiar edition of the Raspberry Pi with fewer connection ports and features, but that still can offer very interesting functions in industrial areas, for example.

Their low cost - $ 5 - makes them very interesting elements to integrate as controllers in all kinds of projects. The first fans - which allow regulating the amount of oxygen supplied to patients - based on a Raspberry Pi join the efforts of Intel in this regard. The semiconductor maker manufactured 20,000 Broadwell processors in 10 days to be able to integrate them into fans based on these CPUs.

In the case of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, its creator, Eben Upton, explained in an interview with Tom's Hardware that the company's own philosophy favors that thousands of Raspberry Pi Zero can be supplied if needed.

"One of the main challenges in large-scale manufacturing of products like this is that the production of the fan elements can be increased, but it is still necessary to provide the control element: the necessary components are often ready on time. 20 weeks and (hopefully) we'll have left this pandemic behind by then. The Raspberry Pi is "produced by inventory" rather than "produced to order", so we generally have products on hand or in process with lead times shorts. "

User demand joins that of fan manufacturers, which has increased production: of the 192,000 units of Raspberry Pi Zero and Raspberry Pi Zero W (with Wi-Fi connectivity) that were manufactured in the first quarter from 2020 it will go to 250,000 from now on to satisfy that demand.

The Raspberry Pi Zero have a Broadcom BCM2835 CPU with a single core at 1 GHz and 512 Mbytes of RAM, but for Upton "it offers enough computing power for the fans." This engineer and entrepreneur explained that it is the first time that these miniPCs are used in medical devices, and in fact the BBC indicated that two hospitals in Colombia will use fans governed by Raspberry Pi soon, for example.

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