The Raspberry Pi is a general purpose tiny computer with USB, Ethernet, audio, HDMI etc and this works using an SD card to store the operating system, for example Raspbian (Debian).
The Pi has had several generations now and the newly-released Raspberry Pi 3 takes the unit to the next level.
So why is it important? Those of you who read this blog will know I’ve looked at many similar boards – some more powerful than the Raspberry Pi 2 (the Orange Pi for example which is a LOT faster). To the last one however, they’ve been let down by lack of support and community. Just about all of them will run the various operating systems but some assume HDMI out only for audio – so if you’re using a 3.5mm jack you are stuffed. Others have everything – but almost no support for ports…all of those wonderful things you could do – if only they provided the drivers?
The thing that makes Raspberry Pi stand out is support and community. In Node-Red for example there are several GPIO nodes that work out of the box with the Pi yet none of them work with other devices without some major work.
The Raspberry Pi 3 then comes with some great expectations of compatibility. In my humble opinion, the original Pi was just too slow and too limited and I don’t really think the Pi Zero is a lot better – when we come to the Pi2 however, it works just fine doing all sorts of complicated stuff… but if you don’t want to use Ethernet you have to start messing with dongles, using up your limited number of USB ports… and a little more speed never hurts.
And so onto the Pi 3 – here’s what’s important:
- 1.2Ghz 64-bit processor (A53) – in all around 10 times faster than the original Pi
- Integrated WIFI and Bluetooth including Bluetooth 4
- 400Mhz GPU (as against 250Mhz in older models)
- Complete backward compatibility
- Price as per Raspberry Pi 2 (which no doubt now will drop in price).
So, 33% faster clock rate than Pi2 and other enhancements give up to 50-60% increase in speed over Pi2 – that is worthwhile. They have not increased the RAM which remains at 1GB which is a shame (having said that I’ve never run out of space yet).
In case you are wondering about that “educational” label… I’ve been using a Pi2 to control heating and lighting now for a year – it has NEVER failed 24/7 (unless I put in duff code of course). I am really looking forward to the Pi3 which I expect will arrive tomorrow. Note that the new model tales a little more power than previously and a 2.5amp supply is recommended (5v). More on that soon.
If community support for the Raspberry Pi 3 is true to form, that support will immediately put power into your hands – something the competition can only dream of.
It’s their anniversary as well, the foundation came into being 4 years ago!
With recent new release of Raspbian and a brand new board there is lots to look forward to. I’ve just grabbed an image of Windows 10 for the Pi from my pal Peter Oakes and this should give it a bit extra kick.
More in a future article coming up “real soon”.