The Raspberry Pi is being built, and I’m not just talking about space. In February 2016, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced the release of the Raspberry Pi 3. It was the most significant update to the popular line of low-cost computers.

Released just one year after the launch of the Raspberry Pi 2 it contains things that should have been enabled from the start but weren’t, like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Performance has also improved markedly. The Raspberry Pi 3 does this while maintaining its $35 base price. Here’s what you need to know about it.

Performance

The Raspberry Pi 3 features the BCM2837, a brand new SoC (System on a Chip) from Broadcom. This represents a significant improvement on earlier versions of the Raspberry Pi. Not only does it run at a higher frequency (1.2GHz quad-core vs. 900MHz quad-core on the Raspberry Pi 2), but it also runs on 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 microarchitecture, which implements a more advanced set of ARMv8-A instructions. ,

BroadComChip

This results in some impressive performance improvements, especially in real life tasks like web browsing. Brian Benchoff writing for Hackaday noted:

“… The Pi 3 is now on the threshold of being a useful desktop computer… It’s a computer that could fill an entire elementary school computer lab. «

According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the latest version is 50-60% faster than the Raspberry Pi 2 in 32-bit mode. Incredibly, it is ten times faster than the original Raspberry Pi, released just four years ago .

Tests conducted by Pimoroni concluded that the Raspberry Pi 3 significantly outperforms older models in both single-core and multi-core tasks (35% and 48% improvement, respectively). The only downside is that boot times remain sluggish due to the bottleneck due to slow I/O (I/O), not due to a slow CPU. If a future version of the Raspberry Pi introduces fast onboard storage, you should expect boot times to drop drastically.

Another area of ​​disappointment was the lack of RAM, which is still limited to 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM. An increase in this area would go far towards improving the Raspberry Pi’s multitasking powers.

Lastly, the Raspberry Pi 3’s graphics card has also been upgraded to better handle video content and games. The Broadcom VideoCore IV processor now runs at 400 MHz for video processing and 300 MHz for 3D graphics. While you still won’t be able to play Skyrim with this, you should expect to be able to watch HD content without stuttering.

connection

When it comes to wired communication, very little has changed. The Raspberry Pi 3 comes with built-in 10/100 Ethernet, a full-size HDMI port, a combo 3.5mm analog audio and composite video port, 4x USB 2.0 ports, CSI and DSI headers, and 40 GPIO (General Purpose I/O) pins.

Ports

But now it also includes built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, thanks to the built-in BCM43438 wireless «combo» chip. It supports 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.1 standard. including Bluetooth LE (Bluetooth Low Energy). This is great news for several reasons.

WirelessChip

First, it reinforces the Raspberry Pi’s value proposition. A common complaint with older Raspberry Pi machines was that while they only cost $30, you can easily spend more than the necessary accessories and components. You can now get a complete computer for $35 without spending extra money on easily misplaced keys. Provided you have an old keyboard and mouse knocking around, you really don’t need to buy anything other than a Micro SD card.

Enabling built-in wireless will also free up some of the Raspberry Pi’s valuable and scarce USB ports for more useful stuff.

But more interestingly, the Raspberry Pi 3 is a great turnkey solution for anyone interested in robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT) as you can connect it to other devices and computers without any intermediate hardware.

Due to the lack of drivers for the models in question, tests for a Bluetooth connection have not yet been carried out. However, early reviews of the Wi-Fi chip show it on par with most foreign dongles, with Pimoroni saying it’s only 5% slower.

Although there is a downside. Power consumption has increased with the addition of the BCM43438 chip. While you can still power it with a standard 5V micro-USB adapter, the Raspberry Pi Foundation recommends using a 2.5A charger, especially if you’re going to be connecting power-hungry USB devices to it.

See and feel

At first glance, the Raspberry Pi retains most of the aesthetics of its early counterparts, apart from the Raspberry Pi Zero. But there are some minor design changes. It was necessary to move the LEDs to accommodate the Bluetooth and WiFi chip. The title of the run also shifted a bit.

board

It remains to be seen how well the early cases will match the latest board. All earlier cases will work with the new board, according to LifeHacker, while some accessory makers, such as Pimoroni, have publicly stated that they intend to release redesigned cases designed for the Raspberry Pi 3.

Another significant improvement is found in the Micro SD slot. The Raspberry Pi 2 used a spring-loaded Micro SD slot, which was prone to breakage and eventually became the subject of complaints for Raspberry Pi owners. Some have even resorted to homemade hacks, such as covering their MicroSD slot with duct tape to prevent the media from being ejected prematurely.

Luckily, the Raspberry Pi 3 has completely ditched spring, and we hope this is a permanent change.

Another big Raspberry Pi

If you haven’t been able to get a Raspberry Pi for a long time, here’s your chance. In addition to being a great device for experimenting and learning to code, coding students it’s finally mature enough to be half a decent everyday computer.

Of course, there are a few things we would like to see in future versions of the board. While we love Wi-Fi, it’s a shame it’s not the new 802.11ac standard that’s showing up on more consumer routers. We still retain onboard storage as well as some extra RAM; and a Gigabit Ethernet connection would be much appreciated. But for $35, you won’t hear us complain.

Raspberry Pi 3 is available for purchase now. At the time of writing, Element14 and RS Components are well available. Though if the hopeless success of the Raspberry Pi Zero is anything, don’t expect it to be that way for long.

Will you get one? Are there any features that you think are missing? Let me know in the comments below.

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