It’s been four years since the Raspberry Pi Foundation came to be. To celebrate its fourth birthday, it has released the third version of the Raspberry Pi. The small sized computer has been sold 8 million devices since 2011. The micro-computer has seen its biggest update yet as the inexpensive computer board adds WiFi and Bluetooth. The price remains the same at $35.
Raspberry Pi brought an unimaginable improvement in the education sector. Where most classrooms couldn’t afford a PC for everyone, Raspberry Pi has solved the problem and helped millions of curious children. Classrooms will now be able to bypass the Ethernet connections and save on that by using the new 2.4 GHz WiFi feature.
The addition of Bluetooth, however, is targeted towards hobbyists and researchers who have been working using a Raspberry Pi to collect data from sensors, connecting to devices at their labs or homes. With built-in Bluetooth (and Bluetooth LE using an onboard antenna), Pi won’t need to be physically connected to a sensor or need an additional add-on with an iffy Bluetooth workaround. Of course, there is the added benefit of being able to use wireless keyboards and mice as well.
The manufacturers of Raspberry Pi were aware of the demand of both these features. Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading (RPT), the charity’s commercial arm, remarked that, “Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are a thing people have been asking for a long time.”
Upton explains that up until now, these additions were not possible on a $35 computer due to cost restrictions. They had to wait for the price of the required components to come down to a level where they could be used without raising the price. There was the problem of engineering and certifications as well, which was too much for RPT’s small team. He says it wasn’t possible last year “That stuff was maybe beyond us in the previous generation, when we did Raspberry Pi 2.” At the time, RPT had 20 employees including six engineers. Today that number is between 30 and 40.
The Pi 3 is also getting a massive performance bump as its processing package now includes a 64-bit quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A53 processor with the same 1GB of RAM. Last year, the processor chip was a 32-bit 900MHz one. Raspberry Pi 3 will be around 50-60 percent faster than Pi 2 and more than capable to be called a PC. It retains the same number of ports as its predecessor – 4 USB and 1 Ethernet port.
Don’t be surprised if a version of Windows 10 becomes available for Pi 3 just like its predecessor.
Upton says that while people used to say that Pi 2 was too slow to be a PC, he says, “I’m really quite hopeful that this time we might come across that line,” he adds, “That we’ve made a thing where you can really say, Yes! This is a PC.”