The Raspberry Pi 4 was released June 24, the latest in a series of affordable ($35us), single board computers designed to educate children on programming and robotics. Why do we care? Aren’t there a hundred “Pi Killer” boards released with the same specs?
First lets look at the hardware. The CPU is 20% faster than the previous generation, that doesn’t sound like much but Intel has been leveling off at 5-10% improvements. Memory is seriously improved; previous generations were stuck at 1Gb whereas Pi4 gives the option between 1,2 or 4Gb of RAM. Gigabit Ethernet finally has its own bus instead of sharing the USB bus which limited it’s throughput. USB 3 ports are present, check that off the wishlist. The power connector has changed to a standard USB C to allow sourcing more watts. the Pi4 sports Dual video, supposedly 4k ea. It keeps all its self-standardized connectors for I/O and PoE. ALL my checkboxes are checked. Pi4 is a little late to the party as it Sourced and Engineered a board that will last us another 2 years.
Georgy-Porgy Why Raspberry Pi? I have an entire fruit-salad to pick from. While other manufacturers can meet the hardware specs and maybe the price-point, Software is Raspberry’s sweet spot. Other units run Linux, some even run Raspbian Linux, but they are buggy and not optimized. Raspbian is the most refined and works across an entire platform of devices and on the next RasPi, and it’s the only device we can be confident has hardware optimized video playback.
So why do we care? isn’t it just for Robotics experimentation? The hardware upgrades open up a few new possibilities. USB3+GigE makes for a fast home media server, Add a USB Ethernet to build a firewall. PoE+Wifi is a Wireless Access Point. Optimized 4k playback + Chromecast support is a versatile Media Center.
Linux’ downfall is non-ease-of-use and lack of clear standards. When we surmount this last hurdle we will break free of the walled gardens that surround our Apple and Android privacy-crippled go-to’s.