The Raspberry Pi Foundation surprised everyone last week with the launch of the Raspberry Pi 4 which wasn’t due out until next year. Furthermore, most people were not expecting how big of an upgrade the single board computer would receive.
The previous RPi architecture was based on a 48nm fabrication process, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation had pushed the limits of what that was capable of, so with the new RPi 4, they shifted to a 28nm SoC, which allows more transistors on the same silicon using less power.
Based on Broadcom SoCs, the new Pi incorporates Broadcom’s BCM2711 with a quad Cortex-A72 setup along with the company’s VideoCore VI GPU. The GPU is arguably the weak spot here, but the Raspberry Pi Foundation prioritises an open GPU first and foremost, and this, therefore, means there should be no compatibility issues with the new model.
These changes allow the new RPi 4 to have around 3 times the processing power than the previous generation. Furthermore, this is the first generation that has launched with multiple Ram variants, with the base model still using 1GB but this then goes up to 2GB and 4GB. Combining the dual HDMI outputs capable of 4K resolution, the RPi 4 is being positioned as an affordable low powered desktop replacement.
Input / Output has also seen a massive improvement with the new board bringing USB 3 support, giving the platform access to SuperSpeed USB data rates for the first time with 2x USB-A 3.0 ports, plus an additional two USB-A 2.0 ports. Then the ethernet has been upgraded to full-speed Gigabit Ethernet port whereas the original RPi 3 model B only had 100 Megabit and the B+ has Gigabit, but it was over USB 2.0 and restricted to 300Mbps.
While the device is now more appealing as a computer, it still remains an ideal board for prototyping and bespoke electronic applications. As always there is a 40-pin GPIO header, then there is the DSI display port for connecting a Raspberry Pi touchscreen display.
|Raspberry Pi 4 Model B||Raspberry Pi 3 B+|
|Chipset||Broadcom BCM2711,||Broadcom BCM2837B0,|
|CPU||Quad core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.5GHz||Quad-core Cortex-A53 (ARMv8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.4GHz|
|Video||VideoCore VI 3D up to 500 MHz.||VideoCore IV multimedia/3D graphics core @ 400MHz/300MHz|
|RAM||1GB, 2GB or 4GB LPDDR4-2400 SDRAM (depending on model)||1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM|
|Wi-Fi||2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz IEEE 802.11ac wireless||2.4GHz and 5GHz IEEE 802.11.b/g/n/ac wireless LAN|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 5.0, BLE||Bluetooth 4.2, BLE|
|Ethernet||Gigabit Ethernet||Gigabit Ethernet over USB 2.0 (maximum throughput 300 Mbps)|
|USB||2 USB 3.0 ports; 2 USB 2.0 ports.||4 USB 2.0 ports|
|I/O||Raspberry Pi standard 40 pin GPIO header (fully backwards compatible with previous boards)||Extended 40-pin GPIO header|
|Video Out||2 × micro-HDMI ports (up to 4kp60 supported)||Full-size HDMI|
|Display port||2-lane MIPI DSI display port||DSI display port for connecting a Raspberry Pi touchscreen display|
|Camera port||2-lane MIPI CSI camera port||CSI camera port for connecting a Raspberry Pi camera|
|Composite||4-pole stereo audio and composite video port||4-pole stereo output and composite video port|
|Encoding||H.265 (4kp60 decode), H264 (1080p60 decode, 1080p30 encode)||Not Listed|
|OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics|
|Storage||Micro-SD card slot for loading operating system and data storage||Micro SD port for loading your operating system and storing data|
|Power||5V DC via USB-C connector (minimum 3A*)||5V/2.5A DC power input|
|5V DC via GPIO header (minimum 3A*)|
|Power over Ethernet (PoE) enabled (requires separate PoE HAT)||Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) support (requires separate PoE HAT)|