The Raspberry Pi changed the way we think about small, cheap computers. The little computer sells for $35 (or less) and while it was originally designed for use in classrooms it’s been a big hit with the DIY community, home media builders, and other enthusiasts.

Now the Raspberry Pi Foundation is launching the biggest hardware update since the Model B first launched in 2012.

The Raspberry Pi 2 is still a small computer with a $35 price tag. But the new model features more memory and a processor that’s up to 6 times as fast. It’ll also be able to run a version of Windows 10.

raspberry pi 2_06

The Raspberry Pi 2 features 1GB of RAM and a Broadcom BCM2836 processor. That’s a quad-core, ARM Cortex-A7 processor which the Raspberry Pi Foundation says will ship with an 800 MHz clock speed, but which can be overclocked to run at 900 MHz.

Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton tells me the new chip has the same graphics and Broadcom VideoCore IV graphics as the single-core BCM2835 chip in the original Raspberry Pi.

That means it’ll support HD video and 3D graphics, but you’ll need to use closed binaries to make use of those features until open source drivers become available. Work on open source graphics software is underway though.

While the graphics core remains unchanged, Upton says the BCM2836 processor offers around 1.5 times the performance of the BCM2835 chip in single-threaded tasks, and up to 6 times the performance when running multi-threaded tasks that take advantage of all of the new chip’s processor cores.

raspberry pi 2_01

He says there’s an even bigger boost in video codec performance thanks to the move from ARM11 to ARMv7 architecture, which enables support for ARM’s Neon technology.

XBMC performance, for instance is said to be noticeably faster — especially when you’re trying to use the media center to run more than one task at a time.

The new chip is a little more power-hungry than its predecessor… but just a little. Upton says it uses up to 1 watt more than the BCM2835, which means that the Raspberry Pi 2 uses around 3.5 watts to 4 watts of power rather than the 3 watts consumed by the Model B+.

Wondering why Raspberry Pi is launching new hardware based on ARMv7 architecture in 2015 at a time when ARMv8, 64-bit chips are hitting the streets? The answer is that the new hardware offers a big boost in performance without an equivalent boost in price.

He says he doesn’t see the need for 64-bit processors in hardware with 1GB of RAM, which means it’d likely be at least another few yeas before we’ll see Raspberry Pi hardware with 64-bit chips.

raspberry pi 2_05

The $35 price tag is, and will remain, a core part of what makes the Raspberry Pi special. When I asked Upton what makes the Raspberry Pi different from all the other cheap dev boards we’ve seen in recent years (including some who have piggybacked on the Pi name such as the Banana Pi and Orange Pi), he immediately answered that Raspberry Pi hardware continues to set the bar for low-cost computers.

Most other devices tend to sell for $50 or more.

The foundation also offers long-term support for its hardware, which has led it to find unexpected success in the industrial market. And since millions of Raspberry Pi units have been shipped, there’s also a strong community of independent developers and users.

Upton says the full name of the new model is the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, which leaves open the door of a new, cheaper Model A. But for now the foundation doesn’t see a way to offer a quad-core model at the $20 price point, since it’d also need to have at least 512MB of RAM.

raspberry pi 2_03

The Raspberry Pi foundation isn’t replacing the Model B or Model B+ with the new Raspberry Pi 2. The group will continue producing hardware based on the BCM2835 chip as long as there’s demand for it, and the Model A and Model A+ will likely continue to be produced for even longer since there are currently no plans for a new $20 model.

The team plans to continue supporting and producing the new Raspberry Pi 2 Model B for as long as there’s demand and at least until there’s new hardware… which in practice means the hardware launching today will likely be around for at least two more years.

The Raspberry Pi 2 is the same size and form factor as its predecessor, has 10/100 Ethernet, HDMI, VGA, 3.5mm audio, and microSD card slots, and should be able to run most of the software designed for the original Raspberry Pi, as long as it’s been updated to work with an ARMv7 kernel.

That means just about anything you could do with a first-gen Raspberry Pi computer you should also be able to do with a version 2 device… only faster.

raspberry pi 2_04

I asked what kind of tasks the new hardware would support which would have been much more difficult with the original hardware. Projects such as Face detection and other computer vision projects were given as an example, and Upton says the Raspberry Pi 2 is “much more credible as a general purpose PC,” since web browsing is smoother, and OpenOffice and other productivity apps run better.

Last year Upton said next-gen Raspberry Pi hardware probably wouldn’t be available until 2017. But it turns out the team had been looking at new processors as early as May of 2014 and things started to come together toward the end of the year. It was just a few months ago that the foundation felt confident a new model would be ready for launch.

As of today tens of thousands of units have been manufactured and they’re ready for purchase from Element14, RS Components, and other retail partners.

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19 replies on “Raspberry Pi 2 has a quad-core CPU, still costs $35”

  1. So this or the odroid-c1 ? I am thinking that even though adding an eMMC module boosts the costs, it would be worth it to have the eMMC option.

    btw, anyone know a good source for eMMC modules that are cheaper then the hardkernel store?

  2. i hope they go all the way again and double the ram to 2gb; that’s easily the biggest bottleneck i run into with these devices.

    with the hp touchpad alongside, i still run a wee acer ao522 with an amd c-50. (i guess you could say i’ve followed liliputing for a long time. heh.) i’d love to free my netbook from running into the crt i’m using. i’m hoping there’s a means of using the new raspberry pi to accomplish this. are any of its custom linux OSes or browsers smart like android & seem to put my disorganised mess of tabs to sleep instead of swapping mercilessly & immobilising everything?

  3. You would hope the ethernet isn’t hanging off the USB bus anymore. Did broadcom change this?

  4. Why did they keep the 100Mb/sec Ethernet port? Why not gigabit. Also did they address the issues and overhead of the networking port when you use Samba? Its network I/O is pretty poor.
    I hope they fixed these things.

    1. It’s an all-purpose development board.. not specifically meant for network servers or desktop use. I’m pretty sure the purposes of the pi’s have always been more about building robotics, home automation, etc. The fact that you can make it a media center or a NAS server is just something people have found uses for.

  5. What are these guys thinking they need to update the GPU on the Pi as well.

  6. Look at the Odroid c1 same price and I believe much better performance. Going to order another soon.

    1. Yes, there are other boards in the same price range, but most don’t have the same software support or community that Raspberry Pi does.

      1. Amen. Software and low-cost are the Pi’s largest strengths, and the new version follows suit. I predict more sales that the previous versions combined.

      2. Yeah but the Pi has some serious limitations. The network port tied to the USB. No Sata port.
        GPU speed is OK but really not great. No gigabit Ethernet. I have 3 Pi’s but these things have me buying other cards.

        1. Yeah, and the biggest problem with the pi to me is the use of sd cards for the system disk. You can never reliably buy them with known random access performance. They are only sold with the sequential speed speced. I need to run Crystal Disk Benchmark on cards and find maybe one out of three has decent random access speed, even after I have settled on two brands that at least have a chance of giving decent random access speeds. The ability to buy and use known to work eMMC modules is nice.

    2. There’s more to performance than just clock-speed. The Odroid c1 uses four single-issue Cortex-A-5 cores @1.5Ghz, whereas the Pi 2 uses newer and more powerful dual-issue Cortex-A-7 cores @900Mhz.

      There’s likely very little difference in actual performance

      1. Read my reply to Bill Smith. I am wondering if they rushed this because other board makers are succeeding at releasing boards that are faster? Also have they addressed some of the serious issues in their USB and networking? I know some of this is up to Broadcom but still these issues are bottle necking the I/O of the board.

    3. I have been looking at it. Even posted about it a bit ago before I read the rest of the comments. Also looking at the odroid-u3 since it has the heat sink already, though it costs more it may be worth it for a tv/emulator build overall. I do like that the pi can be powered off the usb though. Have you ran andoid on the c1? What version is it, and how is it for running on a tv? I have only used android with touchscreens, a little bit with the logitech google tv , which was pretty bad.

      1. I am running the C1 with Hardkernel Android build , 4.2.2 I think,(not around the unit)

        It runs Hulu Plus, Kodi version 14 and Amazon Instant Video. Getting the right wifi adapter was odd because it only supported one ID, but because of the Pi’s I had several laying around.

        I use a USB power adapter to power it. You have to bridge, by design, two solder pads to do this. All in all its working MUCH MUCH better than my Raspberry Pi ever did and was tons easier to configure. There are some glitches that need to be worked on but they are constantly improving so I am not concerned. Go the the forum’s general section and you can see the good and bad. https://forum.odroid.com/viewforum.php?f=110

        Me, I am going to buy more through the year and retire my Pi’s.
        The network bottleneck is making me crazy.
        Here is a link to a benchmark
        https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oF_f2q1N6zneqqtF__9ZQIy4VWEpDl3GDw5dGqQDl08/edit?hl=en-GB&forcehl=1

        I dont think much about benchmarks its all about performance when you use it and this little board is quick.

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