A new version of the Raspberry Pi small board computer (SBC), announced today, brings with it some hefty hardware changes whilst holding the asking price to US$35. Version 4 (Model B) of the world’s most well-known and widely adopted SBC kicks the processor specification up the stairs from the RPi 3B+’s quad-core Cortex A53 to Broadcomm’s BCM2711 that features 4 x 1.5GHz A72 cores.
A more substantial hardware upgrade comes in the form of more RAM. The Raspberry Pi Version 4 Model B gives us 1GB of DDR4 RAM as standard with options for 2GB and 4GB that successively add US$10 to the board’s asking price. No wonder the Raspberry Pi foundation is now promising performance in line with “entry-level x86 PC systems”.
Other changes include the return of the 4-pole 3.5mm headphone socket, a switch from microUSB to USB C for 5V power injection, two of the four USB A ports are now USB 3.0 specc’d, Bluetooth 5.0 and, more controversially, the removal of the full-size HDMI port in favour of a pair of micro HDMI ports, thus enabling dual 4K monitor setups.
Network connectivity on the RPi 4B remains the same as the RPi 3B+: Gigabit Ethernet and 5GHz 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi.
Hifi enthusiasts already in possession of an audio HAT can upgrade the RPi motherboard without worry: the Version 4 Model B’s 40-Pin GPIO header is backwards compatible with HATs offered by the likes of ALLO, HiFi Berry, IQAudIO and JustBoom.
My first and only question about the 4B: is it powerful enough to run Roon Core? 4GB of RAM leans toward a “yes” but a question mark hangs over its CPU. We won’t know for sure until we (or someone else) try it.
If confirmed by real-world experience, not only will the Raspberry Pi (and its ilk) continue to eat the entry-level network streamer market but also the entry-level server market where, when not directly connected to a DAC, the RPi’s higher levels of electrical noise are less of an issue.
Further information: Raspberry Pi