Hot on the heels of the updated Raspberry Pi Model A+, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced another new device: the Raspberry Pi 2. The new Raspberry Pi 2 is six times faster than the previous version, the B+, and can even run Windows 10 (albeit a special version).
Let’s look at what this means.
While the previous upgrade from the B to the B+ was largely iterative, the newly released 2 has some major hardware changes.
The processor has been upgraded from a 700 MHz 32-bit ARM single core Broadcom BCM2835 to a newer 900 MHz ARM 32-bit quad core Broadcom BCM2836. The amount of RAM has also jumped, from 256 MB in the original B and 512 MB in the B+, to a whole 1 GB in the 2 B.
— RS Components (@RSComponents) February 2, 2015
The external dimensions of the 2 hasn’t changed much from the B+. It still has the same four USB ports, HDMI out, Micro USB power port, and 40 General Purpose Input/Output (GPIO) Pins.
The hardware upgrades bring some serious performance boosts to the Raspberry Pi. In an interview with The Register, the head of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Ebon Upton, claims that they’re now making “a useable PC”.
Measuring relative real world performance isn’t a simple task especially, as I explained in my article on computer components, when comparing multi-core CPUs with single-core CPUs. To get some grounds for comparison benchmarks are used.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation claims on their site that the 6x performance increase is “a typical figure for a multi-threaded CPU benchmark like SysBench”. For other tests the increase is as low as 1.5x — in “single-threaded CPU benchmarks” — and as high as 20x — in “NEON-enabled multicore video codecs” benchmarks.
What ever way you look at it, the new combination of a faster processor, three more cores and double the RAM is going to make it noticeably faster in everyday use, and allow it to run far more intensive applications.
Windows 10 Support
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has been “working closely with Microsoft” to get Windows 10 running on the Raspberry Pi 2. This is huge news. While Linux is a great operating system, it’s certainly not for everyone.
Like the other versions of the operating system, the version of Windows 10 that Microsoft is developing for the Raspberry Pi 2 will, according to the foundation, “be available free of charge to makers” – but will likely only run Universal apps due to the ARM architecture.
The exact specifics of how this will work are yet to be announced. You can sign up for the Windows Developer Program to be kept up to date or rest easy knowing that we will cover installing Windows 10 on a Raspberry Pi as soon as we’re able.
What It All Means
At MakeUseOf we’re big fans of the Raspberry Pi. I use the one I installed in an old guitar amp everyday. Christian and James also use theirs all the time. Our only complaint about our Raspberry Pi’s has been that they are too underpowered — this latest update changes that. I’m very excited to see what people — including us — are able to do with the extra power.
We’ve also been following the development of Windows 10 closely. So far, we’ve been impressed with many of the changes and really like how Microsoft is engaging with the community of users. Personally, I’ve high hopes for Windows 10 especially when it’s installed on a $35 Raspberry Pi.
Getting a Piece of Pi
100,000 Raspberry Pi 2 have been released for sale today. You can expect them to fly out the door. –I’ve already ordered mine. If you’re interested in buying one too, check out the Raspberry Pi site for links to the foundation’s partner retailers.