I remember when the Raspberry Pi was first announced. A credit card sized proper computer which cost 25 quid? A likely story.
Twenty five million sales later, the story is looking more likely than ever. And now we have version 4.0. This version is interesting for a whole bunch of reasons. They reckon it has around twice the speed of the previous version, and you can now get it in memory sizes that go from 1 to 4 Gbytes. It now supports two monitors and 4K video output (although its a bit tricky if you try to use both at the same time). It also has two USB 3.0 sockets and the specs speak of much faster data transfer. The mounting holes look to be in the same place, and the pin-out for the “hat” connector is the same, although the pins can be re-purposed to get some extra I2C and serial ports which is very welcome.
The bad news is that there are a few “breaking” changes from the previous device. The video sockets are now micro-HDMI and there are two of them, which means that case designs will have to change and you’ll need to change your video cables. The power is now supplied via a USB-C socket and you need a bit more of it. The days of hanging a Raspberry Pi off a USB socket on a PC may be over. And if you want to get full speed all the time (or play with overclocking) you’ll need to add cooling to prevent the processor slowing down when it gets too warm.
But this does mean that you can consider using the Pi as a desktop replacement. I know they say that with every new release of the platform, but this time it might actually be true. The extra ram will make it possible to multi-task with ease, and the faster USB sockets mean you can connect fast hard drives too. However, having said that, I reckon that the extra power is interesting because it makes it easy to use a Pi as a proper “edge computing” device. It should be very possible to run some proper AI on this platform, allowing you to put a lot of computing power right next to your sensors, which makes things very interesting.
I can’t find any word from Microsoft as to whether the IoT version of Windows 10 will be ported to the Raspberry Pi 4. I really hope that it will be. Windows 10 on this platform would be awesome.
I’ve ordered myself a device, I’m looking forward to it coming and having a play.