The Raspberry Pi has been responsible for kickstarting a small revolution in DIY electronics, giving amateur enthusiasts a cheap but capable mini-computer that can be turned to all kinds of tasks and projects. Today there's a new model on sale, the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, offering a host of performance improvements over the Model B+ edition released last year. The price remains the same though, at US$35.
The new Pi uses the same PCB layout and footprint as its predecessor, so if you own a Model B+ then you'll have no problem finding your way around the updated board. The big change is in the speed with which the device can crunch through numbers and tasks, its makers say it runs up to six times faster (depending on the job at hand). The Pi 2 Model B uses a quad-core Broadcom BCM2836 ARMv7 processor running at 900 MHz, a significant improvement on the single-core, 700 MHz CPUs of the older boards.
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There's twice as much RAM here, 1 GB rather than 512 MB, and the memory is clocked at a faster speed too. All of these improvements mean Pi enthusiasts can run bigger and more powerful applications, more akin to a full-sized computer. With that in mind, it's encouraging to see Microsoft announce that it will release a special cut-down version of Windows 10 for the Raspberry Pi 2 for free.
The Pi 2 is fully backward-compatible too, thanks to the 40-pin GPIO header, so older Pi-powered projects will work fine with the new model, once the necessary code has been recompiled. Up to four external USB devices can be connected rather than just one, and 1080p HDMI-out capability is included again.
Manufacturer Element14 is calling it a "major modification" for the popular mini-computer and it should have a significant impact on the scope and scale of the projects that the Pi community can create. "Today's launch of Raspberry Pi 2 takes the Raspberry Pi platform to a completely new level," said Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading, at the launch of the new device. "[It's] the perfect board for professionals and hobbyists alike."
The next-generation Raspberry Pi hadn't been expected until 2017 so it's something of a surprise to see it appear so soon. The older Pi 1 B+ and Pi 1 A+ boards are going to remain on sale for the time being.
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