A little bit of the Roaring Twenties has just fallen into 2019. Raspberry Pi 4 has just been announced and is now shipping. As soon as the distribution pipeline is filled, you’ll be able to buy one (or fifty, or ten thousand) from your favourite distributor. This is the fourth generation of Raspberry Pi since the introduction of the series in 2012.
Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer, around the size of a credit card, based upon the ARM family of low-power microprocessors. Unlike the Arduino family of microcontrollers, which are primarily used as embedded processors and programmed on other platforms, the Raspberry Pi is a general-purpose computing platform which, with an attached keyboard, mouse, monitor(s), and network connection, can be used to develop software using the tools with which programmers are familiar on desktop platforms, usually based upon the Linux operating system, for which a Raspberry Pi distribution called Raspbian is the most popular.
Raspberry Pi 4 was expected to be introduced in the middle of 2020, but according to the developers that was based upon a schedule assuming four revisions of the silicon would be required to get the bugs out and meet specifications but, in fact, the second revision (BCM2711B0) worked perfectly, and with the board design completed and tested, there was no reason not to ship it now.
The specifications of this new model place it firmly in the desktop class.
- 64-bit ARM Cortex-A72 1.5GHz quad-core CPU
- 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of LPDDR4 SDRAM
- Full-throughput Gigabit Ethernet
- Dual-band 802.11ac WiFi networking
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports
- Dual monitor support, at resolutions up to 4K
- VideoCore VI graphics, supporting OpenGL ES 3.x
- 4Kp60 hardware decode of HEVC video input
Like previous Raspberry Pi models, it is powered by an external power cube, in this case any USB-C power supply able to source 3 amperes at 5 volts. There is no need for a fan. A new case is available which accommodates the changes to connector configuration, but existing Raspberry Pi 3 cases can be adapted with a little hacksaw work. The general purpose digital I/O interfaces which allow connecting external devices and using the board as an embedded controller are compatible with Raspberry Pi 3.
For the first time, Raspberry Pi is available in three memory capacity models. The base 1 Gb option (the same as Pi 3) sells for the traditional price of US$ 35. The 2 Gb model is US$ 45, and the 4 Gb US$ 55.
Bundled software remains the same as for Pi 3, including a full copy of Wolfram Research’s Mathematica. The current version of the software includes version 10.2 of Mathematica, but Wolfram Research have announced this will be updated to the newly released version 12. A number of people, including me, have bought a Raspberry Pi simply to get an inexpensive copy of Mathematica.