Feature Article

March 01, 2016

Wireless Options Now Part of the Raspberry Pi 3

The Raspberry Pi Foundation was created by several talented people who believed that families should be able to have affordable, programmable computers. The company wanted to break the paradigm of having to spend hundreds of dollars in order to own a PC to have access to the Internet.

It is with this goal in mind that Raspberry Pi created a low cost, credit card sized computer designed to plug into a computer monitor or TV using a standard keyboard and mouse. Normally, when a company makes changes to its products, no matter how slight, they take the opportunity to change the version number and increase the price, yet another concept that the company does not follow.

In February 2015, the company released the Raspberry Pi  2, which included a 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU and 1 GB LPDDR2 SDRAM (2x memory), for a selling price of $35. Earlier this week marked the fourth anniversary of Raspberry Pi, and with it came the release of the Raspberry Pi 3 with the same $35 price tag.

The small, yet powerful Pi 3 is now powered by a 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU, which runs at 1.2GHz, making it about 60 percent faster than the Pi 2. Similar to the previous version, the Pi 3 has an HDMI port, Ethernet, MicroSD and four USB ports, running a Broadcom VideoCore IV 3D graphics processor that can play 1080p video at 60 frames per second.

What separates the Pi 3 from the Pi 2 is the inclusion of several wireless options that include 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4. The previous versions tied the unit to a physical Ethernet connection, which as mentioned above is still available, but users wanted the freedom of wireless connections and they were heard.

While the initial goal of the company was to provide small, affordable computer options, the credit card sized unit now goes beyond that concept. Over the course of the past four years, Raspberry Pi has generated the development of robots and electronics. The latest version will allow users to build simple smart homes by connecting Raspberry Pi 3 to Bluetooth-based devices. According to Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi, the new features in Raspberry Pi 3 align well with Microsoft’s Azure cloud service, which will provide remote automation, security, and analytics, as well as other services.

At this time, about 200,000 units are ready to be used, with an expectation of having about 100,000 units manufactured every week. At some point in the near future, Raspberry Pi plans to have a modular version of the Pi 3. This unit will have similar capabilities but be packaged in a board that could be installed inside computers.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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