Raspberry Pi gets 6x the power, 2x the memory and still costs $35

Makers, academics and generally anyone who likes to play with computers: get ready for some awesomesauce. Raspberry Pis, the tiny Linux computers that currently sell for $35 are getting a makeover that will give a tremendous boost to their compute power and double their memory while still keeping their price the same.

The Pi 2 boards will be available today, and Pi creator and CEO of Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd. Eben Upton says the organization has already built 100,000 units, so buyers shouldn’t have to wait like they did at the original Pi launch. The Pi 2 will have the following specs:

  • SoC : Broadcom BCM2836 (CPU, GPU, DSP, SDRAM, and single USB port)
  • CPU: 900 MHz quad-core ARM Cortex A7 (ARMv7 instruction set)
  • GPU: Broadcom VideoCore IV @ 250 MHz, OpenGL ES 2.0 (24 GFLOPS), 1080p30 MPEG-2 and VC-1 decoder (with license), 1080p30 h.264/MPEG-4 AVC high-profile decoder and encoder
  • Memory: 1 GB (shared with GPU)
  • Total backwards compatibility (in terms of multimedia, form-factor and interfacing) with Pi 1

This is a significant expansion of the Pi’s capabilities, although I’ve stopped being surprised at how far hobbyists have taken the original platform. In a blog post for Broadcom, Upton wrote:

[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]Raspberry Pi 2 has enough raw computing power to do anything that a PC can — surf the Web, word processing, spreadsheet algorithms and more; we expect to see a lot of you using it as a general-purpose productivity machine. We’re really pleased with it — and we think that our community of fans, developers, educators and industrial customers will agree.
[/blockquote]

When I emailed Upton to ask how he managed to keep the price so low while adding so much to the performance he said that shaving off a few cents on other components paid off. “We were able to hold the? price by paying a lot of attention to the little things (the price of an HDMI connector, the exact finish on the PCB),” he wrote. “We ended up finding a few tens of things each of which saved $0.10, and then spending all those savings in one go on more RAM and CPU performance.”

The Pi 2 uses a Broadcom chip, much like the original Pi did. The new Broadcom SoC is called the BCM2836 and it has the same VideoCore multimedia with a lot more CPU power.

And for those in the U.S. hoping to see more Pi action in their kids’ schools, Upton also told me that the Foundation has hired its first U.S. employee and is hoping to do a lot more with the U.S. education system in 2015. That’s great news, because Upton actually created the Pi with kids in mind. His goal was to get them excited about hardware, coding and computers the way he was inspired back in the day by the Commadore 64 platform. You can check out his commentary on this and more form his appearance at one of our conferences in 2013. It’s an excellent talk.