Raspberry Pi HTPC

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Raspberry Pi HTPC

The Raspberry Pi is an ultra low cost Linux computer.  The Raspberry Pi has two models: Model A andModel B. Both boast a Broadcom BCM2835 SOC. The SOC contains an ARM1176JZFS, with floating point, running at 700Mhz, and a Videocore 4 GPU. The GPU is capable of BluRay quality playback, using H.264 at 40MBits/s. It has a fast 3D core accessed using the supplied OpenGL ES2.0 and OpenVG libraries. All of this makes the Raspberry Pi a great Raspberry Pi HTPC.

The Model A and Model B are nearly identical, with two major differences. The Model A has no Ethernet jack and only 1 USB port, while the Model B has 1 Ethernet jack and 2 USB ports. Respectively the Model A and Model B are priced at $25 and $35.

NOTE: The Raspberry Pi only comes with license to playback h.264 and MPEG4 videos. If you wish to play MPEG2 and VC1 you can purchase them at the Raspberry Pi License store. To enable MPEG2 and VC1 playback check out HTPCBuild.com Raspberry Pi License Install Guide.

From an HTPC Build perspective the Raspberry Pi HTPC has a few huge advantages:

  • Ultra low power consumption (1-2 watts)
  • Ultra small footprint – 85.60mm x 53.98mm x 17mm, with a little overlap for the SD card and connectors
  • HDMI with Audio
  • License codec: MPEG4 & H.264 (hardware accelerated)
  • Boots of a SD card

You’ll need:

  • Power supply capable of supplying 5V @ 700ma (Model B) and 5V @ 300ma (Model A)
  • 2GB SD Card
  • A copy of the distro you want to use
  • Case

There is a running WIKI of Peripherals that work and don’t work with the Raspberry Pi.  You can also find a list of confirmed working Power Supplies and SD cards.

Currently there are 3 distro available for the Raspberry Pi that boot directly into XBMC:

The authors of the above code have kindly provided images of their distro for easy writing to your SD card. The easiest to install is Raspbmc, which provide its own utility to format, download, and write its image to your SD card. However OpenElec and XBian are not difficult either. SD cards are cheap! I suggest you try them all and pick which one you like best!

It is possible to overclock the Raspberry Pi, if this is something that interest you please check out the following: