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2/29/2016 | By Maker.io Staff

Raspberry Pi 3 – 64-bit CPU with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Four years ago on February 29, 2012, the Raspberry Pi Foundation was born with the launch of the Raspberry Pi 1 Model B, which broke the internet with excessive demands. Since that day, the Foundation has progressed, bringing new exciting updates to the original Model B with the releases of Model A, Model B+/A+, Pi 2 and Pi Zero. But today is by far the biggest update we have seen and a much welcomed one by the Raspberry Pi community, the Raspberry Pi 3.  

The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B features a quad-core 64-bit ARM®-Cortex® A53 clocked at a whopping 1.2GHz. This already puts the Pi 3 50% faster than the previous Pi 2. In comparison to the Pi 2, the RAM remains the same with 1GB of LPDDR-900 SDRAM, and the graphics capabilities, which are provided by the VideoCore IV GPU, are also the same. The more noticeable new feature on the Pi 3 is the addition of the on-board 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. This brings the Pi 3 into the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) and greatly expands its capabilities moving forward.

Specifications

Raspberry Pi 3 Specifications:

  • SoC: Broadcom BCM2387
  • CPU: 1.2 GHz quad-core ARM-Cortex A53
  • GPU: Broadcom VideoCore IV @ 400 MHz
  • Memory: 1GB LPDDR-900 SDRAM
  • USB Ports: 4
  • Network: 10/100 MBPS Ethernet, 802.11n Wireless LAN, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Power: 2.5 Amps

Comparison

Not only does the Pi 3 come with new wireless capabilities, but the Raspberry Pi Foundation has yet still managed to keep the price down, which is extraordinary, but I guess Moore’s law has a small part to play in this.  

 

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

Raspberry Pi 2 Model B

Raspberry Pi Model B+

Introduction Date

2/29/2016

2/2/2015

7/14/2014

SoC

BCM2837

BCM2835

BCM2835

CPU

Quad Cortex A53 @ 1.2GHz

Cortex A11 @ 1GHz

Cortex A11 @ 700MHz

Instruction Set

ARMv8-A

ARMv6

ARMv6

GPU

400MHz VideoCore IV

250MHz VideoCore IV

250MHz VideoCore IV

RAM

1GB SDRAM

1GB SDRAM

512MB SDRAM

Storage

Micro-SD

Micro-SD

Micro-SD

Ethernet

10/100

10/100

10/100

Wireless

802.11n/Bluetooth 4.0

None

None

Video Output

HDMI/Composite

HDMI/Composite

HDMI/Composite

Audio Output

HDMI/Headphone

HDMI/Headphone

HDMI/Headphone

GPIO

40

40

40

 

The Raspberry Pi 3 is what you would expect from the Foundation; it doesn’t come with a whole host of additional hardware extras, such as SATA or a Real Time Clock (RTC) that would just be unruly and unnecessary, and it would form part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s strategy. Whilst other features would be great to some users, they would also, without a doubt, add additional costs to the Pi. When the Raspberry Pi was first introduced to the world four years ago, its main purpose was to provide a low cost computer platform for everyone to learn computer science. To this day that factor remains and the Raspberry Pi 3 is the proof in the pudding. Not only is it a low cost computer, it has now become a serious contender for a real computer that is useful, not just a set-top box media streamer or retro gaming device.

Keeping up with the competition

Let’s travel back in time to four years ago when the Raspberry Pi was first released into the wild. At that point there weren’t any other boards out there on the market for a cheap, single board computer running Linux; the closest thing to the Pi was priced in the region of $100-$150. There soon after manufacturers realised that there was a market for cheap, small devices that run Linux, in particular the Maker/Hobbyist market. The Raspberry Pi Foundation had almost single-handedly started a new ECO system of development boards, such as BeagleBone, Intel Galileo/Edison, ODROIDS, UDOOs, CubieBoards, CHIP and many more.

Every so often there is a new board out on the market heralded as a “Raspberry Pi Killer,” such as the Pin64 and Odroid XU4. The Pin64 started as a Kickstarter campaign promising a quad-core ARM-Cortex A53 running at 1.2GHz, much similar to the Pi 3, but it will be delivered at a higher cost and has already encountered numerous issues upon arrival in customers’ hands; therefore, noticeably, it has been rejected as a viable Pi competitor.

Software

The Raspberry Pi over the years has seen a huge influx of distributions from the standard Debian to Windows 10 IoT. Not all these operating systems will appeal to all users, but nonetheless there is something for everyone hailing the Raspberry Pi as the goto platform. There are still currently two operating systems that haven’t really featured in full swing on the Pi yet, such as Android and Chrome OS. The Pi 3 may change this with its much faster processing power. By far the graphics have had significant impact on holding back the development of other OS systems and word has it that the Pi 3 will feature the Chrome OS in due time, according to Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi founder.

Future Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi 3 has been in pre-production for almost 18 months and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Foundation was already cooking up Pi 4 in the lab. I would expect more or less a similar board to the Pi 3 with more upgraded features, such as CPU and GPU. I would even go as far as adding a UFL connector for enhanced wireless performance. There are already production talks of a new Pi Zero which will feature very much the same hardware features of the Pi 3 with upgraded CPU, GPU and wireless capabilities.

 

With the hardware and educational elements to the Raspberry Pi, it’s safe to say that they both complement each other very well and there will be more exciting products to come for a number of years. Raspberry Pi has a bright future for the young minds of today.