Sony Invests In Raspberry Pi
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Friday, 28 April 2023

Sony is deepening its partnership with Raspberry Pi with the aim of bringing its AITRIOS platform to the Raspberry Pi user and developer community. Does this provide more clues about what we might expect for Raspberry Pi 5?

sonyrpi banner

A joint announcement from Raspberry Pi Ltd and Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation revealed that Sony is making a "strategic investment" in Raspberry Pi that:

cements the relationship between the two companies, to provide a development platform for SSS’s edge AI devices to the worldwide community of Raspberry Pi users.

sonyRP shake

Explaining Sony's motivation in making a minority investment in Raspberry Pi, Terushi Shimizu, President and CEO of Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation, stated:

"Our goal is to provide new value to a variety of industries and support them in solving issues using our innovative edge AI sensing technology built around image sensors. We are very pleased to be partnering with Raspberry Pi Ltd. to bring our AITRIOS™ platform — which supports the development of unique and diverse solutions utilizing our edge AI devices — to the Raspberry Pi user and developer community, and provide a unique development experience.”

According to Raspberry Pi Ltd CEO Eben Upton:

“Sony Group is a longstanding and valued strategic partner. Our pre-existing relationship encompasses contract manufacturing, and the provision of image sensors and other semiconductor products. This transaction will allow us to expand our partnership, bringing Sony Semiconductor Solutions’ line of AI products to the Raspberry Pi ecosystem, and helping our users to build exciting new machine-learning applications at the edge.”

Sony unveiled AITRIOS its new edge AI sensing platform in October 2021. As noted in the video, the name “AITRIOS” consists of the platform keyword “AI” and “Trio S,” meaning, “three S’s” standing for “Solution,” “Social Value,” and “Sustainability”.

AITRIOS won the tinyML Awards 2023 for "Best Innovative Software Enablement and Tools" with an image sensor with AI-processing capability that helps the retail industry keep track of stock. This may provide one clue as to how AITRIOS might fit into the Raspberry Pi ecosystem. Another clue about what to expect from the Raspberry Pi 5, whose launch is now not expected until 2024, was given in his talk at the tinyML summit in 2021 by Upton in a suggestion that RPi's in-house application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) team was working on compact accelerator cores, something that would fit in well with Sony's vision for AITRIOS. It also aligns with the idea that the new family member will target AI and ML.

It is increasingly likely that Raspberry Pi 5 won't regard the educational market as its primary focus. Back in October 2021 when the second Raspberry Pi website was launched we reported Liz Upton's clarification of the dual personality of Raspberry Pi:

the Raspberry Pi family is actually made up of two organizations, both based in Cambridge, UK. There’s us: Raspberry Pi Trading: we’re the Computer People. We engineer, make, and sell Raspberry Pi computers.

Then there are our colleagues across the city: the Raspberry Pi Foundation [which fosters] educational initiatives [and] makes learning materials and online training courses.

The new website should have made it easier for Raspberry Pi Ltd pursue its commercial aims but the shortage of chips which has frustrated people wanting to purchase Raspberry Pis must have frustrated the company even more, although this may have been offset somewhat by the success of the Raspberry Pi Pico.

Hopefully Sony's investment will enable Raspberry Pi Ltd to get on track to launch the Raspberry Pi 5 in 2024 even if it can't help with the chip shortage that has led to the dearth of both Raspberry Pi 4s and Zero Ws.

More Information

Raspberry Pi Trading website

Raspberry Pi Foundation website

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Last Updated ( Friday, 28 April 2023 )