Raspberry Pi 4 Now Available

Raspberry Pi 4A 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.

Here is the official announcement and product details from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

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Author: John Walker

Founder of Ratburger.org, Autodesk, Inc., and Marinchip Systems. Author of The Hacker's Diet. Creator of www.fourmilab.ch.

18 thoughts on “Raspberry Pi 4 Now Available”

  1. All together what is the cost of a Raspberry Pi set up? I saw on the link page a $120 dollar kit.

    What makes this better than a cheap tablet?

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  2. 10 Cents:
    All together what is the cost of a Raspberry Pi set up? I saw on the link page a $120 dollar kit.

    What makes this better than a cheap tablet?

    The US$120 desktop kit includes everything you need to get running with the exception of one or two HDMI monitors:

    • Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, 4GB
    • Raspberry Pi Keyboard & Mouse
    • 2 × micro HDMI to Standard HDMI (A/M) 1m Cables
    • Raspberry Pi 15.3W USB-C Power Supply
    • Raspberry Pi 4 Case
    • Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide (English language)
    • 16GB NOOBS with Raspbian microSD card

    (The NOOBS card is the starter, ready to run, operating system.  You’ll want to transfer it to a larger microSD card or attach an external USB drive for more storage.)

    Many of the things included are stuff computer nerds have lying around and may not need to buy.  Preferences in monitors are highly personal, so it doesn’t make sense to include one in the kit.  Many modern television sets provide HDMI inputs and can be used as a monitor for a Raspberry Pi.

    A configuration like this has almost nothing in common with a tablet.  It has a real keyboard and mouse, which are essential if you’re creating content rather than just viewing things, support for large and multiple screens for development and media production, and the ability to interface to any kind of peripheral that plugs into a USB port.  The processor is about half the speed of a high-end desktop machine, but more than adequate for most people’s needs.

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  3. My son-in-law is a tech guy & wants to teach some basic programming to our grandsons on a raspberry pi – he’s probably thinking about the earlier models, which look like they are $35 to 40. He said they are fun for kids to program little tricks on, like making the lights in your living room blink 3 times every time someone turns on the tv – or something like that. He’ll probably get this newest model for himself though!

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  4. Pencilvania:
    My son-in-law is a tech guy & wants to teach some basic programming to our grandsons on a raspberry pi – he’s probably thinking about the earlier models, which look like they are $35 to 40.

    The model 4 is the same price as the model 3 (US$ 35) if you choose the same 1 Gb memory capacity.  Since the model 4 is around three times faster than the 3, if you’re buying one new, there’s no reason to choose the 3.  The 3 (and earlier versions) remain in production so that applications which have designed them into other products and depend upon the exact physical configuration of connectors, etc. can use them without modifying their products.  They typically guarantee that any given model will remain available for at least five years after it is introduced.

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  5. At the risk of being a nontechie guy, so what?

    This is nothing I’ll ever use. I want off the shelf things that are easy to use. Computers in my life moved from a hobby to Everyman use. This is is the wrong direction.

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  6. 10 Cents:
    What makes this better than a cheap tablet?

    It depends on what you want to do with it.  I have been interested in multi-processing (my definition: splitting up a job into tasks and sending tasks to separate computers for work)  for years.  Their capability and low cost have made it possible to play around with this using Raspberry Pis.

    You don’t really need a keyboard/monitor for each, since you can set them up to run ‘headless’ and use a separate computer to control them.  I am happy with terminal mode, but you can use tools to allow a graphical display on the remote computer.

    My setup now has 5 Raspberry Pi computers as the multi-processing system and a separate one (with a 1 TB disk) to use as a local backup.

    The thought of a 1 TB disk tied to a raspberry pi (total cost, about $150) makes me giggle.  This is more computing power and disk space than the first mainframe computer I worked on.

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  7. WillowSpring:

    10 Cents:
    What makes this better than a cheap tablet?

    It depends on what you want to do with it.  I have been interested in multi-processing (my definition: splitting up a job into tasks and sending tasks to separate computers for work)  for years.  Their capability and low cost have made it possible to play around with this using Raspberry Pis.

    You don’t really need a keyboard/monitor for each, since you can set them up to run ‘headless’ and use a separate computer to control them.  I am happy with terminal mode, but you can use tools to allow a graphical display on the remote computer.

    My setup now has 5 Raspberry Pi computers as the multi-processing system and a separate one (with a 1 TB disk) to use as a local backup.

    The thought of a 1 TB disk tied to a raspberry pi (total cost, about $150) makes me giggle.  This is more computing power and disk space than the first mainframe computer I worked on.

    I asked because I see this as a second computer that would be light and portable.

    I could see this as something that would teach different ways to do things. Would the benefits outweigh the cost of the time? Interesting concept.

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  8. Anyone know of these being incorporated as the onboard brain for appliances, machine tools, material handling, building security and such? I could see a generation of entrepreneurs making custom specialized industrial robots off a standard machine such as this.

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  9. TKC 1101:
    Anyone know of these being incorporated as the onboard brain for appliances, machine tools, material handling, building security and such? I could see a generation of entrepreneurs making custom specialized industrial robots off a standard machine such as this.

    Only if AI is a goal for washing machines.  So long as the task is limited to operating machinery according to rules and inputs, even the modest Pi is way too much machine for the task.  Microcontrollers vs general-purpose processors.

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  10. Haakon Dahl:
    So long as the task is limited to operating machinery according to rules and inputs, even the modest Pi is way too much machine for the task.

    That’s true if you’re designing a product for mass manufacture and need to get the cost down to the minimum.  For real mass manufacture, you wouldn’t use a single board computer of any kind (for example Arduino), but rather one of those Chinese field programmable microcontrollers which, depending the number of pins (6 and 8 are popular) can be as cheap as US$ 0.03 in large quantity.  But if you’re prototyping or making a product in which the cost of the computing element is small compared to the total price of the product (for example machine tools or industrial robots), it may make sense to use something which is more easily programmed and which has access to a large library of ready-made solutions.  For example, on a Raspberry Pi you can choose a variety of open source out-of-the-box solutions for voice or image recognition.  This is not the case for a microcontroller.  The Raspberry Pi is very popular among the “maker” community, who mostly design one-off builds, because it is easy to program and interface to external hardware.

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  11. John Walker:
    But if you’re prototyping or making a product in which the cost of the computing element is small compared to the total price of the product (for example machine tools or industrial robots), it may make sense to use something which is more easily programmed and which has access to a large library of ready-made solutions.

    I’ll bet you a cup of coffee that this role is filled by EEPROM communities of practice rather than GP systems.

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  12. John, I have purchased a Pi4 kit and brought everything up. It works, and it’s fast. Got Claws mail configured expeditiously, and CUPS got printing to my network printer in a trice. I’m using Ratburger right now from the Chromium browser. If you have even minimal previous experience with computers, the whole thing is painless.

    I would recommend this solution as a second computer for those who have become addicted to MS Windows. Working in a Linux environment is a healthy change of pace, and good for the soul. It definitely broadens your horizons. And getting Mathematica as part of the package is a not insignificant piece of lagniappe, as you point out.

    My only thought is that this baby runs hot. I run with the top part of the case off and have invested in a fan from Pimoroni called Fan SHIM. It costs less than $15, and the installation is a breeze (now that’s just a terrible pun; mea culpa). It comes with software that allows the Pi to tell the fan controller the temperature, allowing it to toggle the fan on and off depending on pre-set thresholds that you control.

    There’s an old joke about the guy who jumped off the roof of a 40-story building. As he passed an open window on the 30th floor, an observer asked, “How’s it going?” His response applies to the current situation: “So far, so good.”

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  13. Joe Marasco:
    My only thought is that this baby runs hot.

    Interesting.  My Pi 3, which I have in a clear plastic case whose only openings are for the connectors, never gets more than slightly warm.  According to the specs, the idle power of the Pi 4 is 3 W, as opposed to 2.3 W for the Pi 3B, and the peak power is also higher, 6.25 W compared to 5.66 W.

    It might be interesting to have a look at “top” when you’re running a usual workload.  I have found that Chromium, on some platforms, has a propensity for having its worker processes go into CPU loops.  They’ll show up in top as “Web Content”, and sometimes when the fan starts going nuts on my laptop, I’ll see three or four of them showing CPU usage between 80% and 100% (usage is measured per core, so the total can be 100% times number of cores).

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  14. I am awaiting delivery of my first Pi – a Pi4 with 4 RAM. I am very much looking forward to learning how things work and linux. If I become reasonable adept with it, I am thinking about the possibility of making a travel case for it, the keyboard and a small, portable screen. I am thinking it might serve as a quasi laptop. Maybe too far-fetched… Nous verrons.

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  15. If you are concerned about how hot your pi is cooking, you can run the following from a command window:

    watch -n 1 -d /opt/vc/bin/vcgencmd measure_temp

    If your pi gets to about 85 degrees C, it will begin to throttle back. Before that happens, a thermometer will appear on the desktop. When it goes from partially red to all red, you will be in throttled mode.

    What prompted me to be concerned was that I got the evil thermometer the first day, and didn’t know exactly what it meant. I resisted the temptation to cover that part of the screen with racing tape–black electrical tape used to mask annoying dashboard warning lights in cars that are intentionally being pushed–and installed the fan. Then I learned that monitoring was possible, and have been doing it, and will continue to do it until I am convinced that even under intense load, I don’t burn up my pi.

    You may have already figured out that I am a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy.

    Update: Over the past few days, the Pi4 has idled right around 60 degrees C, varying up and down by a couple of degrees. When loaded somewhat, it climbs to the high 60’s. I have the fan thresholds set at 55 degrees C and 65 degrees C, and the fan seems to be doing a good job. I put the cover back on the case, and it’s warm to the touch, but not hot enough to cook anything.

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