The New Raspberry Pi 4 In Review

The New Raspberry Pi 4 In Review

 

The Raspberry Pi 4 is finally here and with it many upgrades and new features. The latest version of one of the most popular hobbyist platforms around has taken a huge step forward. Unlike previous versions, which were excellent platforms for low power computing applications and IOT projects, the Raspberry Pi 4 is being marketed as a desktop replacement. While the Raspberry Pi 3 has the capabilities to run mobile operating systems (OS), a few simple desktop applications, and perform some web browsing; it often was bogged down by having too many tabs open in Chromium or heavy lifting desktop applications. The Raspberry Pi 4 allows for streaming videos, running multiple desktop applications, and displaying to multiple monitors. Let us get into some of the changes necessary to make all of this happen.

 

The processor change marks a significant deviation from previous Raspberry Pi models. While both A72 and A53 CPUs are both popular in smartphones, the A72 is used for high-powered processing applications while the A53 is considered a slower more efficient processor. By moving to the A72, Raspberry Pi is signaling they view the Raspberry Pi 4 more as a PC device instead of a microcomputer. Since the A72 CPU prioritizes performance not efficiency, like the A53, the A72 will consume more power per processing capability. This drop in efficiency won’t make a difference for those using their Pi as a PC (more efficient than a traditional PC) and are plugged into a wall outlet. However, for those looking to use their Pis for low and battery powered applications the drop in efficiency is something to consider.

 

The biggest upgrade to the Raspberry Pi is the RAM Memory Cores. Not only was the Raspberry Pi 4 upgraded to faster more efficient LPDDR4 from LPDDR2 on the RPI3, but is available with different sizes of memory. The Raspberry Pi 4 can be bought with either 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of RAM memory. This is the first time Raspberry Pi has offered a product at different tiers. The 1GB option was offered because to keep the $35 dollar price point they have traditionally offered their products and keep with their tradition of making cheap computing available to all. In order to offer the RPI4 as a PC alternative though more RAM memory was required. Keep in mind RAM memory handles OS boot operations and running desktop applications. If you are limiting in RAM memory you will be speed hampered by the number and size of applications running at once. If you plan to use your PI as a PC, the 4GB model is recommended.

 

RAM Memory (GB)

Price ($)

1 GB

$35

2 GB

$45

4 GB

$55

 

Another upgrade that is geared for those looking to use their Raspberry Pi as a desktop computer is the dual micro-HDMI ports, supporting up to two 4K displays. What would be the point in having lots of webpages and desktop applications open if you are limited to one monitor.

 

Not all of the upgrades to the RPI4 were geared towards making the platform a mini PC, some are focused on the DIY, IOT, and hobbyist computing at the platforms roots. With the addition of two USB 3.0 ports, the RPI4 has an advantage when connection to peripherals over the RPI3. Not only is the data rate for USB 3.0 10x faster than USB2.0, but USB 3.0 is capable of supplying 900mA as opposed to 500mA on 2.0 buses. Just make sure you are powering your RPI4 with a good stable power supply.

 

One thing that remained the same between the Raspberry Pi 4 and 3 in both form and function is the 40 GPIO pin header. By making this the header pins standard, pi hats from older models are compatible with and can be used with newer models going forward (specifically the Raspberry Pi 4). While analog-to-digital converters (ADC) were not added to the RPI4, the ADC pi hats that work with the RPI3 will still work with the RPI4 for those who utilize analog sensors.

 

By offering price tiers, the Raspberry Pi 4 has been able to replace the Raspberry Pi 3. The $35 version, at the same price as the RPI3+, offers tons of feature and speed upgrades and sticks to the RPI roots of being a low-cost hobbyist favorite. While the $55 RPI4 is a significantly improved borderline desktop PC. Whatever your applications there is a Raspberry Pi 4 option for you.

 

Specification

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

Processing

Broadcom BCM2711, Quad Core Cortex-A72 64 bit SoC @ 1.5GHz.

Broadcom BCM2837B0, Cortex-A53 64 bit SoC @1.4GHz.

Memory

4GB LPDDR4-2400 SDRAM

1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM

Ethernet

Gigabit

300 Mbps

GPIO

40 Pin GPIO Header

40 Pin GPIO Header

Video

micro-HDMI Ports (2), 4K support

HDMI Port

USB

USB 3.0 Ports (2), USB 2.0 Ports (2)

USB 2.0 Ports (4)

WIFI

2.4GHz and 5.0GHz WLAN

2.4GHz and 5.0GHz WLAN

Bluetooth

5.0, BLE

4.2, BLE


 

 



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