Since the first Raspberry Pi mini computer went on sale in early 2012, the boards have become firm favorites in the maker community. The latest version is now over a year old, so an update is long overdue. The Raspberry Pi foundation has just announced the next generation Pi, which represents a significant upgrade and now offers makers the choice of 1, 2 and 4 GB flavors of memory.
The first product launch since the Raspberry Pi Store was opened in Cambridge, UK, the Pi 4 B comes with a more powerful – and more modern – processor than the boards before it, thanks to a switch from 40 nm silicon to 28 nm. That shapes up to 1.5 GHz ARM Cortex-A72 quad-core brains which promise a performance hike of between two and four times over the Pi 3 B+.
Up to 4 GB of RAM is available, but the move to LPDDR4 also means more bandwidth. USB connectivity has been brought up to date too. The micro-B power port has been sacrificed to USB-C, which supports an additional 500 mA of current. Elsewhere, makers also get two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports.
The single full-sized HDMI of old has gone, and has been replaced by two micro-HDMI connections to accommodate dual monitor setups. Up to 4K resolution is supported, at 60 frames per second for single displays or 30 fps for dual monitor setups. And out with the bath water is the previous graphics driver stack, replaced by the Mesa V3D driver.
Bluetooth 5.0 is onboard, together with 802.11ac dual band Wi-Fi. The Gigabit Ethernet port has been moved around on the new board, going from the bottom right to the top right, though the 4-pin Power-over-Ethernet connector retains its original position. The Foundation has revealed that makers can look forward to full throughput, thanks to the Ethernet controller being connected to an external Broadcom PHY via a dedicated interface.
The overall physical design has been carefully thought out so that the Pi 4 B is compatible with legacy Pi products, so you should be able to use your stash of old HATs and the like if you want to.
The Foundation has given the operating system some attention too, which is based on the upcoming Debian 10 Buster release. Users can look forward to a modern UI, the Chromium 74 web browser and a host of technical improvements.
This upgrade brings with it a number of accessories, including a new case, power supply and micro-HDMI cables. And the official Raspberry Pi Beginner's Guide has been updated to cover the Pi 4's fresh feature set and updated operating system.
The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B board is available now for US$35 (1 GB RAM), $45 (2 GB RAM) and $55 (4 GB RAM). Previous versions of the Pi will continue to be manufactured until such as time as demand drops off, and pricing for existing products will remain the same. The Foundation is currently looking into the possibility of releasing a Compute Model based on the new chipset.
Product page: Pi 4 B
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