The next big Raspberry
with lots more computing power and more options.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation on Monday announced the availability of Raspberry Pi 4, a comprehensive upgrade that touches nearly every element of the computing platform. Raspberry Pi 4 offers users a choice of three memory capacities. The entry-level 1 GB RAM retains the signature US$35 price; 2 GB costs $45; 4 GB sells for $55. All three variants launched on Monday. The foundation built more of the 2 GB variant than others and will adjust the mix over time to meet demands.
The upgrade to version 4 delivers a first-time PC-like performance while retaining the interfacing capabilities and hackability of the classic Raspberry Pi line, The new features make it the most powerful version of Raspberry Pi to date, according to Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. Mostly, it targets hobbyists, the maker community and educational use cases. This latest upgrade should open up new use case options and market opportunities for the operating system.”The enhanced performance and functions allow the platform to compete more effectively with PC-class chips, including Intel Atom and Celeron. It could open doors for Raspberry and Arm among vendors developing IoT devices that are looking for alternatives to x86,” King told LinuxInsider.
The credit-card sized Raspberry Pi computer board is available with the operating system software on its own without any accompanying attachments. It is also available as a complete kit that includes monitor, mouse, keyboard, SD card, power supply, cables and case for $120.
The new computer board and next-gen software positions Raspberry Pi to graduate from its largely hobbyist and educational user base to the workplace. Despite its primary target audience in education, the Raspberry Pi technology has grown in power over the years and become a huge hit with the wider Maker community, according to Simon Ritter, deputy CTO of Azul Systems.
“I’ve seen it used for pretty much everything you can think of, from robot control to maintaining a scoreboard for basketball to machine learning applications playing Minecraft,” he told LinuxInsider.
Raspberry Pi’s massive increase in power will make it more appealing to users. The switch to a 64-bit processor and having a maximum of 4 GB of RAM make it capable of taking on really significant tasks, added Ritter.
“Adding two 4K displays, Gigabit Ethernet and USB 3 is incredible,” he said.
Those new features could ensure the Raspberry Pi’s suitability in the crowded field of Internet of Things workloads. Some people are pitching Pi as an effective platform for IoT development and deployments, noted Pund-IT’s King.
There are numerous open source OSes designed for IoT workloads. They include ARM’s mBed, Amazon’s FreeRTOS, Contiki, and TinyOS. Plus, though they are not Linux distros, you cannot ignore Microsoft’s Windows 10 IoT and WindRiver VX Works, he added.
“There have been a number of other development boards produced, but none seems to have been as big a hit as the Raspberry Pi,” Azul’s Ritter said.
Raspberry Pi is in a performance class of its own, maintained Upton. “We don’t believe there is anything out there in the same price/performance class as Raspberry Pi 4.”
Better Performance & Faster,
The fourth-generation board is faster and more capable. It is dual-screen and 4K compatible. It delivers three times the processing power and four times the multimedia performance as the Raspberry Pi 3+ predecessor, according to the foundation.
The goal of the upgrade is to provide a rich computing experience with a balance of performance for most users at roughly one-tenth the cost of traditional desktop computer, said Upton.
“Raspberry Pi 4 is the first product we’ve produced that meets the performance level required to function as a general-purpose PC for the majority of users. It’s a good fit for users who want to browse the Web, edit documents or watch videos,” he told Linux Insider.
Beyond the general purpose PC use case, extensive use is expected in media playback, such as set top boxes, as well as digital signage, industrial control and automation applications, Upton said. In education, it is used both in teaching young people about programming and in physical computing projects like robotics and weather stations.
User demands for Raspberry Pi will grow as a result of the latest upgrade, Upton predicted. Increasing performance is the foundation’s path to growing its user base.
“Raspberry Pi 4 has triple the performance of its predecessor, so we hope to see an increase in adoption,” he said.
The way Raspberry Pi’s developers pack so much computing power into such a small form factor without a fan and still keep the price point is phenomenal, noted Ritter.
“This will make it much easier for people to deploy existing Java applications straight onto these boards without code modification or recompilation,” he pointed out.
New Raspbian software is available with the Pi 4 release. To support Raspberry Pi 4, the developers shipped a radically overhauled operating system based on the forthcoming Debian 10 Buster release.
The change to Debian 10 Buster brings numerous behind-the-scenes technical improvements. It also brings an extensively modernized user interface and updated applications, such as the Chromium 74 Web browser.
Pi 4 Highlights:
- A 1.5GHz quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A72 CPU (~3× performance)
- 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of LPDDR4 SDRAM
- Full-throughput Gigabit Ethernet
- Dual-band 802.11ac wireless networking
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Dual monitor support, at resolutions up to 4K
- 4Kp60 hardware decode of HEVC video
- Complete compatibility with earlier Raspberry Pi products