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article imageRaspberry Pi 3 goes 64-bit and adds Wi-Fi, still a $35 computer

By James Walker     Feb 29, 2016 in Technology
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has released an updated version of the infamous Raspberry Pi microcomputer. The Raspberry Pi 3 is 10 percent faster than the original Pi Model B unveiled four years ago today and now features on-board Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
In the four years since 29 February 2012, over eight million Raspberry Pi computers have been shipped worldwide. The UK-based initiative was conceived to get more people interested in coding and building things using computers.
Pis have been used in schools, in server farms, in Bitcoin mining machines and as gaming centres, media streamers, desktop computers. A Pi has even made it to the International Space Station as part of a high-profile campaign by the organisation. The affordable computers boot from a micro SD card and run a full Linux operating system, letting the tiny credit-card sized Pi do almost anything a Linux PC can.
Today, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced the Raspberry Pi 3, a successor to last year's Pi 2. The form factor hasn't changed, letting the Pi 3 work with current cases and embedded boards, but performance has been increased and a few new features added.
The new processor has around 10x the performance of the Raspberry Pi 1 and around 5x the performance of the Pi 2. The quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex A-53 is the most powerful CPU ever fitted to a Pi, running at 1.2GHz out of the box. It can be overclocked further with a stable power supply and adequate cooling.
For the first time in Pi history, the Pi 3 has an integrated Wi-Fi adapter and Bluetooth 4.1. This will make setup a little less painful for people who can't use a wired connection, eliminating the need to buy a third-party USB Wi-Fi adapter and hoping it will work with the Pi. The antennas for the wireless radios are on the board itself but this hasn't required an increase in its size. Instead, the circuit density has been increased again as the Foundation continues to expand the Pi's capabilities.
The rest of the hardware remains the same as on the Pi 2. Despite being 64-bit and using a new processor, the Pi 3 is fully compatible with all the hardware and software that works with the Pi 2.
It uses the same default operating system, the special "Raspbian" version of Linux, which still runs in 32-bit mode. Development of a 64-bit Raspbian edition may commence in the future to give more users access to the 64-bit capabilities of the new Broadcom processor.
Connectivity options include full-sized Ethernet and HDMI ports, a 3.5mm combined audio and analogue video output, four full-sized USB Type-B ports and a micro USB power connector.
As before, the Pi can be powered using any decent USB power supply, such as a USB hub or smartphone charger. The recommended power requirements have been increased for this generation due to the higher-power processor and integrated wireless networking. A stable 2.5 amp supply is now ideal for optimum performance.
The Pi 3 goes on sale today from UK hardware partners element14 and RS Components and resellers worldwide. It has the same $35 price as the Pi 2. The Pi 2 Model B, Pi 1 Model B+ and Pi 1 Model A+ will continue to remain on sale and in production "for as long as there's demand" from existing customers. New buyers will be directed towards the Pi 3 though as Raspberry Pi continues to demonstrate that computing doesn't need to be costly.
In November 2015, the Foundation launched the Raspberry Pi Zero, a $5 computer initially given away for free on the front of MagPi magazine. The palm-sized device proved to be so popular that it is still hard to come by today. It will also remain in production alongside the full-sized members of the Pi family.
More about raspberry pi, Computer, microcomputer, Hardware, Processor
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