Arm picks up a minority stake in Raspberry Pi

Arm likely wants more of a foothold in the Internet of Things ecosystem.

Raspberry Pi

Even though its latest microcomputer bears its own chip designs, Raspberry Pi has been using Arm CPUs since its inception in 2008. The two companies have now formed tighter bonds as Arm has picked up a minority stake in Raspberry Pi. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed. However, the companies say it's a "strategic investment" on Arm's part.

It seems that Arm wants to gain more of a foothold in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem. "With the rapid growth of edge and endpoint AI applications, platforms like those from Raspberry Pi, built on Arm, are critical to driving the adoption of high-performance IoT devices globally by enabling developers to innovate faster and more easily," Paul Williamson, senior vice-president and general manager of Arm's IoT division, said in a statement.

Many IoT developers have long been using Raspberry Pi's low-cost, capable computers for a wide range of purposes. The Register reports that, since 2020, more than half of all Raspberry Pi devices are being used for industrial and commercial purposes. However, Raspberry Pi is said to have prioritized those partners, perhaps making it more difficult for students and enthusiasts to get their hands on its computers at retail price.

There's another reason why Arm and Raspberry Pi might want to be closer bedfellows. RISC-V is an open-source processor design that could make it easier for companies to build their own chips or lower manufacturing costs. Qualcomm and Google are working on a RISC-V platform to power Wear OS devices, for instance. In addition, several companies are also using RISC-V CPUs in would-be Raspberry Pi competitors.

As The Register notes, Arm has pointed out the potential threat of RISC-V to its business. The company mentioned in a pre-IPO filing that if market support for RISC-V rises, "our customers may choose to utilize this free, open source architecture instead of our products." To that end, the investment could help to bolster Raspberry Pi's position in the single-board computer market and perhaps ward off competition.