Raspberry Pi 3 Offers New Chip, Bluetooth, WiFi For $35 - InformationWeek

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2/29/2016
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Raspberry Pi 3 Offers New Chip, Bluetooth, WiFi For $35

The Raspberry Pi Foundation, the UK-based microcomputer specialist, is marking its fourth anniversary on Feb. 29 with the release of the Raspberry Pi 3, which offers new features, including Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities. The foundation is also keeping the price at $35.

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To celebrate the fourth anniversary of the Raspberry Pi -- a series of credit card-sized, single-board computers developed in the UK -- the Raspberry Pi Foundation is releasing a new model, the Raspberry Pi 3.

The Raspberry Pi 3 is currently on sale for $35 -- the same price as the existing Raspberry Pi 2. It features a 1.2 GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU, which provides about 10 times the performance of the original Raspberry Pi 1.

For Raspberry Pi 3, Broadcom is supporting the company with a new system-on-a-chip (SoC) called BCM2837, which retains the same basic architecture as its predecessors -- the BCM2835 and BCM2836.

This means all the projects and tutorials that rely on the details of the Raspberry Pi hardware will continue to work with the latest model.

(Image: Raspberry Pi Foundation)

(Image: Raspberry Pi Foundation)

The only change is the position of the LEDs, which have moved to the other side of the SD card socket to make room for the antenna.

"All of the connectors are in the same place and have the same functionality, and the board can still be run from a 5V micro-USB power adapter," Eben Upton, the founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, wrote in a Feb. 29 blog post about the release of the Raspberry Pi 3. "This time round, we're recommending a 2.5A adapter if you want to connect power-hungry USB devices to the Raspberry Pi."

Other big improvements to the Pi 3 include integrated 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.1. They give the device more wireless options, which can help when developing Internet of Things (IoT) projects in the home or the office. The new board is also completely compatible with Raspberry Pi 1 and 2.

The Raspberry Pi 3 is available to buy from the company's current sales partners, including element14 and RS Components, and from other resellers.

The Model A+ continues to be the $20 entry-level Raspberry Pi for the time being, but Upton noted the company expects to produce a Raspberry Pi 3 Model A, with the Model A+ form factor, during 2016.

Upton also explained the company expects to introduce a BCM2837-based Compute Module 3 in the next few months.

Since the launch of the original 256MB Raspberry Pi Model B in 2012, the company has shipped more than 8 million units, including 3 million units of Raspberry Pi 2, making it the UK's all-time best-selling computer.

[Find out why the Raspberry Pi Foundation said "no" to malware.]

In addition to the impressive sales figures, the company has also been working to place its computers with some far-flung users. It shipped a Raspberry Pi to the International Space Station, and has trained teachers around the world through its Picademy program.

The nonprofit might be making the cheapest pocket-sized PC on the market, but it certainly isn't the only company trying to shrink computers down to the smallest measurements possible.

Semiconductor specialist Intel is also a player in the PC-on-a-stick market, thanks to the release of the Compute Stick. The company's version of a pocket PC resembles a USB stick in size and weight.

Unveiled by Intel at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2015, the stick costs $89 when running on Ubuntu Linux. The Windows 8.1 variant retails for $150.

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Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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