Good luck getting a Raspberry Pi any time soon, unless you're buying in bulk

Raspberry Pi Network Install
(Image credit: Raspberry Pi Foundation)

The Raspberry Pi is a revolution in computing: a seriously cheap single-board computer sold for as little as $4. Unfortunately, the ongoing global chip shortage is raining on its parade. 

"Over the last six months we’ve been working hard to get more Raspberry Pi products built and shipped to customers," wrote Pi boss Eben Upton in an apologetic blog post

"Despite a variety of supply-chain challenges, we’ve consistently been able to build around half a million of our single-board computers and Compute Module products each month." 

But it's not just the supply of components; demand for the miniature computers, which are great for anyone who wants to learn to code or build a bespoke smart home setup, has exploded too. 

The company is so focused on fulfilling back orders (of which there are many) that it can't keep up, basically, and everything has gone into a tailspin. The result? Getting your hands on a Raspberry Pi to play with is incredibly difficult right now. 

The solution, according to Upton, is that business customers that buy Pi products in bulk will be prioritized. "We're acutely aware that people's livelihoods are at stake," he said.

A computing revolution on pause

It's definitely not ideal, but there isn't much else that can be done. In a recent interview with The Verge, Upton spoke at length about the problems that the small, Cambridge-based company faces. 

When asked about the ongoing global chip shortage, Upton was straight to the point. 

"It’s very bad," he said. "We sold the same number of Raspberry Pis last year that we sold the year before, but we entered last year with about a half-million unit customer backlog, and we left last year with several million units of customer backlog." 

But don't despair too much. Upton says that the Raspberry Pi 400, a cheap general-purpose PC, is in stock in some places, alongside the Raspberry Pi Pico, which is essentially just a $4 motherboard. 

The computing revolution ushered in by the Raspberry Pi might be on pause, but things will improve in the future. 

Max Slater-Robins has been writing about technology for nearly a decade at various outlets, covering the rise of the technology giants, trends in enterprise and SaaS companies, and much more besides. Originally from Suffolk, he currently lives in London and likes a good night out and walks in the countryside.