New Raspberry Pi 4 Launches With 8 GB of RAM and 64-Bit OS
Almost one year ago, the Raspberry Pi 4 launched to smashing success, managing to sell close to 3 million units since its release. The board was available in three variants right off the bat – 1 GB. 2 GB and 4 GB – but the developers were hoping to eventually put together a fourth one that would include 8 GB of RAM. In fact, they even referenced it in the user manual before it was even a thing.
But while making an 8 GB Raspberry Pi 4 wasn’t feasible back in 2019, things have changed in the meantime and the highly sought-after board is now a reality. Raspberry PI founder and CEO Eben Upton broke the big news earlier this week on the company’s blog where he revealed the new board’s pricing and specs. There were already some rumors floating around regarding both but now we finally have the official details as well.
The new Raspberry Pi 4 mini computer was made available to purchase immediately after the announcement for just $75. By comparison, the 4 GB variant comes in at $55 while the 2 GB version had its price slashed from $45 to $35 just a couple of months back. In addition to including twice as much RAM as its predecessor, this new board also features a few other improvements, most of which seemed to be aimed at power users.
A New and Enhanced Operating System
Memory aside, the biggest improvement potential buyers can expect is a new operating system. Unlike its counterparts, the 8 GB board is running on a 64-bit version of Raspberry Pi OS. The operating system is currently still in beta but this remains a big step forward nevertheless. Raspberry PI computers have been running on 32-bit operating systems since 2011, making the new board the first of its kind to use a 64-bit OS. At least, if we’re talking about software provided by the developers themselves.
Upton notes in his blog post that there were already alternatives out there for fans of 64-bit architecture, citing Ubuntu and Gentoo as just two noteworthy examples. But having more options is never a bad thing, especially since Raspberry Pi OS is getting better and better with each passing month. As revealed earlier this year, the developers are working on a Vulkan driver for Raspberry Pi OS, and that’s just one of the upcoming improvements. We’re not sure when the new driver will be ready but the CEO promises that “more Vulkan news is coming real soon now.”
Vulkan support is a big deal for Raspberry Pi, possibly even bigger than the additional RAM and 64-bit operating system. Just in case you’re not already familiar with the tech, Vulkan is a powerful graphics and compute API designed to get the most out of modern GPUs while also providing cross-platform comparability. Vulkan is expected to greatly enhance Raspberry Pi 4’s already impressive capabilities and will no doubt be a major selling point for graphics developers.
What’s so Exciting About 64-bit Architecture?
While the addition of a 64-bit OS is a game-changer for some, most Raspberry Pi users probably won’t be able (or interested) to take full advantage of the new architecture. One of the key differences between 32-bit and 64-bit systems is that the former allows any single process to only use up to 3 GB of memory. While that can be a deal-breaker for regular PCs, it’s not really a major downside for a compact one like the Raspberry Pi 4.
As Upton himself points out, however, certain users may want to allocate all the available memory to a single process. This option becomes even more important with the release of the 8 GB version of the board, which is why the developers decided to make the big switch. Thanks to the 64-bit architecture powering the latest version of Raspberry Pi OS, users are now able to map the full 8 GB of memory to a single process if they want to.
New Name, Same Reliable Operating System
If you’re familiar with the operating system developed by Raspberry Pi you probably already know that it used to have a different name not that long ago. The company decided to change the name from Raspbian to Raspberry Pi OS after launching the aforementioned 64-bit version. The goal of the name change is to bring the operating system closer to the Raspberry Pi brand. At the same time, it should make the operating system easier to find by new users.
Even though the developers worked hard on the beta version of the 64-bit Raspberry Pi OS over the past few months, they didn’t forget about the 32-bit variant either. In fact, a new update was released just a couple of days ago and it brings some exciting new changes to the table. Some of the highlights include a new application called Bookshelf, a very helpful screen magnifier feature, some improvements to the audio, and more. For an extended overview of the new update, check out the video down below.
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