In November last year the Raspberry Pi Foundation managed to surprise everyone by releasing a new Raspberry Pi board that cost just $5. The Zero was so cheap to manufacture, its launch was kicked off by including it free on the front of a magazine. Now, just three months later, we have yet another Raspberry Pi to talk about, only this one is the fastest yet.
Faster, WiFi-enabled Raspberry Pi 3 launches, retains $35 price
The Raspberry Pi 3 launched today for $35, which is the exact same price as the Pi it will ultimately replace: the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B. The Pi 3 instantly becomes the board to have because of the upgraded spec it offers.
So, what’s new?
The Raspberry Pi 3 uses a new 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex A53 processor. It offers 10x the performance of the original Raspberry Pi, and is roughly 35% faster than the Pi 2 Model B (900MHz quad-core ARMv7 chip). The VideoCore is now clocked at 400MHz (was 250MHz) and the 3D graphics processor at 300MHz (was 250MHz). It’s also important to point out this is a 64-bit chip where as all previous models have been 32-bit.
The other big improvement the Pi 3 brings is the addition of WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 as standard. The WiFi chip offers 802.11b/g/n support and means you’ll no longer need to use an adapter or rely on an Ethernet cable for Internet access. The other big improvement is a change to the Micro SD slot. The spring-loaded tray has been replaced with just an Micro SD card slot, meaning much less chance of breakage.
Backwards compatibility is assured, with the only change software wise being the use of a 64-bit operating system. The board form factor is also the same, meaning all existing accessories should work. However, there is one minor exception to that rule. In order to fit WiFi and the required antenna the LEDs have had to change location and now sit on the other side of the SD card slot. This means that while existing cases can be used for the Pi 3, you may not be able to see the LEDs depending on the case.
The Raspberry Pi 3 offers more performance, has squeezed WiFi and Bluetooth on to the board, and made the board more reliable with the SD card slot change. That’s impressive, and made even more so by the fact it still costs just $35.
Existing Pi board models will continue to be sold indefinitely because industrial customers need them, but individuals will want to pick up the Raspberry Pi 3 without question, or the Pi Zero if their project warrants the smaller, lower power board.