Raspberry Pi 3 Adds 64-Bit Support and Integrated Wireless But Still Costs $35

Posted on February 29, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Dev, Hardware, Windows 10 with 0 Comments

Raspberry Pi 3 Adds 64-Bit Support and Integrated Wireless But Still Costs $35

Raspberry Pi today announced the Raspberry Pi 3, a new version of its wildly popular mini-computer board that adds a 64-bit quad-core and integrated wireless networking capabilities. The Raspberry Pi 3 costs just $35, the same low price as its predecessor.

The bad news? There’s no mention (yet?) of a free version of Windows 10, which you may recall was also a key selling point of the Raspberry Pi 2. But since the Raspberry Pi 3 is “completely compatible” with Raspberry Pi and Pi 2, I don’t see why this can’t work.

UPDATE: Microsoft has belatedly revealed that Windows 10 IoT Core will support Raspberry Pi 3. I will have a follow-up soon. –Paul

“We’ve [now] shipped over eight million units, including three million units of Raspberry Pi 2, making us the UK’s all-time best-selling computer,” Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton writes in a post announcing the new release. “The Raspberry Pi Foundation has grown from a handful of volunteers to have over sixty full-time employees, including our new friends from Code Club. We’ve sent a Raspberry Pi to the International Space Station and are training teachers around the world through our Picademy program.”

In celebration of Raspberry Pi’s fourth birthday—the original Pi was released 4 years ago today—the organization is releasing the Pi 3, which features some improvements across the board. The processor this time is a 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53, compared to the 900 MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU in the previous Pi 2. It also offers integrated 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.1 for the first time. (Pi 2 offered only Ethernet, but you could add wireless via USB.)

Curiously, the Linux port used by Raspberry Pi 3, called Raspbian, remains 32-bit, though they’re examining whether it makes sense to go 64-bit. For now, however, there are other advantages to using a 64-bit processor.

“The 900MHz 32-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU complex has been replaced by a custom-hardened 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53,” Upton explains. “Combining a 33 percent increase in clock speed with various architectural enhancements, this provides a 50-60 percent increase in performance in 32-bit mode versus Raspberry Pi 2, or roughly a factor of ten over the original Raspberry Pi.”

All of the connectors are in the same place as before and have the same functionality, and the board can still be run from a 5V micro-USB power adapter. For Raspberry Pi 3, however, the organization is recommending a 2.5A adapter for those who wish to use power-hungry USB devices.

Raspberry Pi 3 is available for purchase today from Element14 and RS Components.


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