Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton has been saying for months that 2023 would be a “recovery year” for Raspberry Pi supply—the single-board computer, once known for its easy availability and affordability, has been hit with supply shortages for years. Hundreds of thousands of Pi boards were still being manufactured every month, but many were going to commercial buyers rather than retailers and end users.
More recently, those manufacturing numbers have climbed from 400,000 monthly units to 600,000 to 800,000 to 1 million, a level that Upton says can be sustained “for as long as is necessary to clear our remaining customer backlogs and return to free availability.”
We’re now seeing very early signs that supply is returning to normal, at least for some Pi models. UK-based Pi reseller Pimoroni announced today that it was lifting some purchase limitations on 2GB and 4GB Raspberry Pi 4 boards and Pi Zero W boards (not, apparently, the more recent Pi Zero 2 W). The rpilocator stock tracker account has also noted that its number of automated stock alerts has decreased recently “because Pis are staying in stock longer,” noting that Pimoroni and The Pi Hut had (and still have) multiple Pi 4 variants in stock.
Even as stock returns to normal, we’ll still be dealing with the aftereffects of the shortage for some time to come; the “temporary” price increase for the 2GB Pi 4 board still hasn’t been reverted, and Upton’s past comments have implied that the company has put off the development of the Pi 5 to allow stock of current models to return to normal (the Pi 4 was introduced just over four years ago). Other retailers still have purchasing restrictions in place. And some models and retailers will clearly recover more quickly than others.
As hobbyists wait for Pi supplies to return to normal, they’ve turned to all kinds of other hardware to do the same kinds of work. Discarded corporate thin client PCs and old phones can both handle some of the lightweight tasks at which Pis commonly excel.
But those alternate devices don’t work with the hardware and software projects made specifically for the Pi, including everything from NES-style retro-themed game console cases to Game Boy and BlackBerry-themed portable enclosures.