The tiniest, cheapest computer on the consumer market has just taken a quantum leap in functionality. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the fourth version of its tiny computer, now available for as little as $35.
If you only know Raspberry Pi as something you'd eat, let's back up a second!
For the uninitiated, a Raspberry Pi is a computer stripped down to its barest components: processor, RAM and a variety of ports: Ethernet, USB, HDMI, Camera Serial Interface (CSI), Display Serial Interface (DSI) and even an analogue audio-video jack - all as a spartan configuration on a simple microchip board.
Previous models have possessed 1 GB of RAM, 1 HDMI port, a couple USB 2.0 ports and a single core processor. The lack of computing power and single lane USB bottlenecking had kept Raspberry Pi from becoming a functional desktop computer.
Which isn’t to say these ingenious micro-machines weren’t versatile tools. In fact, it’s just been reported that a Raspberry Pi 3 was used to hack into NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory!
It’s not surprising though, these palm-sized computers are just the sort of gadgetry that were featured as fantasy tech on swinging 60’s spy shows like The Man From U.N.C.L.E or Mission: Impossible.
The advances of version 4 are by far the most significant in Raspberry Pi’s 7-year history. Here are the most notable:
- A new “system-on-chip” quad-core processor which offers an impressive performance boost
- Dual display via 2 micro-HDMI ports- which means the Raspberry Pi can now simultaneously drive two 4K displays
- Gigabit Ethernet and two USB 3.0 ports (in addition to two USB 2.0s)- so that’s now full-speed network and external drive connectivity.
- 4 GB of RAM- quadrupling previous memory and performance specs
What’s it all mean?
The Raspberry Pi 4 is now officially useable as desktop computer at literally 1/100th of the price.
Okay okay so naturally there ARE limits to a bare bones PC but the basics are covered: web browsing with up to 15 Chromium tabs, document and spreadsheet work using Libre Office and even some light image editing.
A hot take product review did report that version 4 struggles with full screen playback, even at 480p. But as anyone previously privy to the Pi knows, it’s not nor has ever been intended as a full replacement for a standard desktop PC
For covert connectivity to government computers though? It beats a 5K iMac any day.
Source: The Verge