Raspberry Pi 2 – 6x faster, quad-core and twice the memory – launched today!


In a shock announcement, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has launched the Raspberry Pi 2 at a press event at The Shard in London.

Here’s a quick introductory video I made. If you’d prefer to read about it rather than watch, feel free to skip the video!

What’s changed?

Originally not expected until 2017, the new board, known officially as the “Raspberry Pi 2 Model B”, features a quad-core ARMv7 processor with all 4 cores running at 900mHz. On-board with this new processor is 1GB of RAM, which is now mounted on the bottom of the Pi. The board has the same form factor as the Model B+ which means it should be compatible with current cases (Update 9/2 – Apparently the Pibow case from Pimoroni needs a new layer 3 to cope with the slight change in position of some components. Please contact them direct to get a replacement layer). The same 40-pin GPIO header as the B+ is also present, and is pin-compatible with the earlier model so all your peripherals will work. It includes connectors for the Raspberry Pi camera and also the forthcoming DSI screen. The composite audio/video port is still present, as is the HDMI port. Just like the B+ it also sports 4 USB ports and an ethernet port. As always, you power it via a microUSB power supply. Power requirements are approximately the same as the B+ so you can use your existing power supplies.

What’s the price?

The price of the Pi 2 is, staggeringly, the same as the older model, (although it comes in a slightly thicker box so you might find it comes out slightly more expensive due to extra shipping costs). You know me, I always recommend people go to The Pi Hut (which I would still do regardless of any advertising – they’re the most local to me!), and at the moment it’s available there for £30 including VAT.

Available from The Pi Hut_sm

So, how does it perform?

I’ve been spending some time with the Pi 2 over the past couple of weeks to see how it performs. Immediately upon boot-up you know you’re in for a much better experience because boot time itself is much-improved. The other thing that is most noticeable is when you’ve gone into the desktop. The CPU usage indicator on the desktop stays ‘calm’ when loading up and running applications, rather than running ‘hot’ at 100% like it does on previous models. When I ran Sonic Pi, the CPU rarely went over 5% and it loaded much faster. Browsing, likewise, is a lot more responsive, especially when initially rendering pages and, particularly, when scrolling. Minecraft Pi Edition is noticeably quicker to load and smoother when you’re moving about. Although I didn’t get a chance to try it out, it will be interesting to see what happens when you’re doing a lot of things all at once such as using TNT. I can only imagine what it will do to the performance of Mathematica.

I plan on running some multi-thread experiments soon and comparing the B+ with the Pi 2. In theory, the Pi 2 should perform much better due to the quad-core processor. I also plan on running a web-server on it to see if performance has improved over the B+.

Most importantly, though, is that this will be a much better platform for education – faster boot time, faster application loading times and generally more responsive overall.

Update from press conference:

The Pi 2 will be able to run Ubuntu and also… Windows 10!!! From Eben:

“It does run Windows 10. I’ve seen it running.”

It is yet to be seen whether this is the full version of Windows 10 or some kind of embedded version. My money, based on a comment made by Ben Nuttall on the Raspberry Pi Foundation blog post, would be on the latter.

In summary

  • New processor – BCM2836, quad-core running at 900mHz
  • 1GB RAM
  • 40-pin GPIO compatible with the B+
  • Same form-factor as the B+
  • 4 USB ports.
  • HDMI
  • Composite audio/video
  • Camera and Display ribbon connector ports
  • Powered by microUSB power supply
  • $35 (or about £30)

I’ll leave you with this quote from Eben Upton:

“Today’s launch of Raspberry Pi 2 takes the Raspberry Pi platform to a completely new level. Combining a sixfold increase in processing power and a doubling of memory capacity with complete backward compatibility with the existing Model B+, Raspberry Pi 2 is the perfect board for professionals and hobbyists alike. The new board will open up new design and development opportunities for users, and further the Foundation’s mission to bring affordable general-purpose computing to people everywhere.”

More coverage

I’d like to point you over to RasPi.TV for more coverage. Alex Eames has done some great work on investigating the capabilities of the Pi 2 and comparing it with the B+, and his video is excellent.

I will link to other posts I’ve found in a top-up post later on today (except anyone who broke the 9am embargo, because that’s just not cricket, chaps!).


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