The product, which has been developed by the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation, is a $25 credit-card sized computer based on a Broadcom chip that aims to stimulate young people’s interest in computer programming.
The deal with distributor Premier Farnell is a major coup for the UK manufacturing industry and represents a return home for the innovative British-designed Raspberry Pi, which to date has only been manufactured in China. The Sony site will initially produce over 300,000 units for customers across the world and is expected to create up to 30 additional jobs.
“Since the Raspberry Pi was launched globally in February 2012 it has been a tremendous success story," said Mike Buffham, Global Head of EDE at Premier Farnell. "The younger generation have been fascinated in learning how to build and programme their own computer device. As such we have had huge interest from educational institutions in purchasing the product, innovative design engineers who are using the computer for exciting new applications and also the general public.”
Premier Farnell has been selling the device since February this year through its brands of Farnell element14 in Europe, Newark element14 in North America and element14 in Asia Pacific, and more recently through subsidiaries CPC in the UK and MCM Electronics in the US and says there is no sign of a slow down.
“When it came to reviewing our manufacturing strategy we were always keen to bring the production of the Raspberry Pi to the UK," said Buffham. "From the outset Sony UK Technology Centre demonstrated its enthusiasm for the product as well as its expertise in manufacturing. Their site is highly impressive and I am very confident that the team in Wales can deliver, providing us with a high-quality product, within our designated timeframe, all within budget."
Eben Upton, Co-Founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation said: “When Pete Lomas and I built the first Raspberry Pi’s for testing last year, we never dreamed it would become so popular so quickly. The Raspberry Pi was built to develop young people’s skills in computer programming and electronic engineering; we had always intended and hoped that the Raspberry Pi would also be manufactured within the UK. By bringing the production of a UK product back into the country alongside its development and distribution, we can help support our economy and demonstrate the capabilities the UK has in terms of technological innovation, invention, and manufacturing.
In the assembly of the Raspberry Pi, Sony UKTec will be investing in additional equipment to fulfil the order requirements, providing flexibility and scalability to cater for potential increases in demand. This will include additional automated circuit board equipment and double side reflow machinery. Furthermore, the site will be extending its manufacturing process capability to include a technique called package-on-package (PoP). This allows the processor and memory to be stacked on top of each other, reducing the PCB footprint and the distance that high-speed signals need to travel, improving overall reliability.