Sony Semiconductor invests in Raspberry Pi

Sony Semiconductor Solutions (SSS) has agreed to make a strategic investment in Raspberry Pi Ltd. (RPL), the developer of small, low-cost, single-board computers whose devices SSS has manufactured for more than a decade.

Raspberry Pi devices like the recently announced Global Shutter camera module already include Sony sensors, and the companies said in a statement that Sony Semiconductor’s minority investment “cements the relationship between the two companies, to provide a development platform for SSS’s edge AI devices” to RPL’s global user community.

“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,” said SSS President and CEO Terushi Shimizu, in a statement. “We are very pleased to be partnering with Raspberry Pi Ltd. to bring our AITRIOSTM 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.”

RPL CEO Eben Upton added, “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.”

Raspberry Pi devices have been made by Sony at the Sony UK Technology Centre in Pencoed, Wales, since 2012. RPL devices were widely credited with helping more individuals and businesses learn coding skills for their own purposes. 

As was the case with many semiconductor-based products in recent years, there reportedly was a notable shortage of Raspberry Pi devices during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, a situation which RPL has said would improve in early 2023. Device prices also have been rising amid the shortage. Affordability traditionally has been a strength of RPL offerings. For example, the Raspberry Pi 4 launched in 2019 with a starting price of $35.