Lovers of miniature computers, rejoice! The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced their newest addition: the Raspberry Pi 4, will now be available in flavors of 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB RAM for $35, $45, and $55 respectively.

Raspberry Pi 4 Updates

Updates to the Pi 4 over its predecessor include the aforementioned RAM increase, a new 1.5GHz Quad-core CPU, gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.0 support, dual-band wireless networking, dual monitor support, two USB 3.0 ports and two more USB 2.0 ports.

These improvements to the speed and processing mean the Pi 4 can actually run some desktop applications when using the 4GB RAM version, provided you aren’t using it for any complex 3D modelling. What improvements have they made regarding 3D?

One notable step forward is that for Raspberry Pi 4, we are retiring the legacy graphics driver stack used on previous models. Instead, we’re using the Mesa “V3D” driver developed by Eric Anholt at Broadcom over the last five years. This offers many benefits, including OpenGL-accelerated web browsing and desktop composition, and the ability to run 3D applications in a window under X. It also eliminates roughly half of the lines of closed-source code in the platform.

raspberry pi 4
raspberry pi 4
raspberry pi 4
raspberry pi 4

Since the designers made the Raspberry Pi 4 similar to past iterations in terms of shape and size, you can easily pop out and replace your old Raspberry Pi computer with this new, updated version. As with all Raspberry Pi computers, this one is backward-compatible so anything you made on previous Pis will be work on your new Pi 4 and vice versa.

This is a good spot to point out that they’re sticking to their guns on the 32 bit OS. Why? A couple of reasons that, in my opinion, speak to the Rasberry Pis success. Here’s Simon Long, a UX engineer at Raspberry, responding to some criticism:

We cannot avoid focussing on backwards compatibility; it may not matter to you, but it is massively important to us. There are 27 million Pis in the wild; I don’t have exact numbers to[sic] hand for how many of those are Pis 1, 2 and Zero, but it’s well over 10 million of them. As soon as we move to a 64-bit OS, those devices are orphaned, because we do not have the resource to maintain two separate forks of Raspbian. (Not to mention to handle the support requests we will get from the thousands of users who download the wrong version and find it doesn’t boot.)

No-one has yet managed to provide us with a convincing use-case for where a 64-bit OS actually provides a real, quantifiable benefit to end-users. 32-bit accesses the entire RAM of the 4GB Pi 4. 64-bit code is invariably larger than 32-bit code – compare the sizes of the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7; the 64-bit version is 30-40% larger. That’s a lot of extra download bandwidth for us, and for our users. A lot of 64-bit code actually runs slower than the 32-bit equivalent – because it’s larger, it takes longer to pull in from backing store. There are numerous costs attached to 64-bit – and we have yet to find a proven use-case where it actually offers any benefit whatsoever to the vast majority of our user base.

Makes a lot of sense, no?

You can find the full specs of the new Raspberry Pi 4 (and purchase one for yourself) on the Raspberry Pi webpage.

Author

Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.