What is Raspberry Pi: A Controller or a Processor?

Image Source: Raspberry Pi

The new Raspberry Pi has been gaining its popularity for its compact design, convenient use and low cost. Initially made for educational purpose, the product has made its way into robotics and weather monitoring too. However, many of us are still confused with one thing – which category does this hardware fall into? Is it a processor or a controller?

Let’s first understand the design and functionality of the Raspberry Pi.

What is Raspberry Pi and How Does it Work?

To be precise, it is a computer of the size of your credit card. You can connect it with your keyboard, mouse and display to make it work. The display you use here could either be a monitor or a TV.

Here’s what you’ll find in this little hardware device:

  • HDMI port
  • RCA video output
  • USB ports
  • SD card slot
  • Head phone jack
  • On-board ARM processor
  • Ethernet port
  • RAM

Now, let’s understand how it works:

  • There will be a power port that you need to use for connecting it to the main power supply.
  • The USB ports are used to connect it to the keyboard and the mouse.
  • You need to connect the computer to the TV or monitor using the HDMI port.
  • You’ll have to fill the SD card slot for storing the operating system as well as your files. The minimum memory of this SD card has to be 8 GB.
  • If you want to connect it to broadband for internet, you’ll be needing the Ethernet port.
  • After you’ve installed the operating software (Raspbian), you can use it for learning or working with skills like computer programming, digital marketing or robotics.

What is the Difference between a Processor and a Controller?

For a computer, a processor is a device that has the capability of giving instructions to the computer for its functioning. A central processing unit or CPU is nothing but a processor. You need to connect the memory and I/O components externally and an external bus to interface with RAM. It is usually complex and expensive.

Now, on the other hand, a controller is an all-in-one chip that has a CPU, memory and I/O components. It consumes lesser power, costs less and has an internal bus to interface with various peripherals.

What Does This Imply?

Given that the Raspberry Pi is a single chip that has everything in it, costs less, consumes really less power and works really fast, it falls under the category of a controller. You don’t need a large CPU if you’re using this as the processor is already integrated.

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