At the time of writing this post it’s almost exactly one week since the Raspberry Pi 3 was officially launched. Personally, I’m both extremely happy and extremely frustrated at the Pi 3’s launch.
When I got my Pi 2’s some time around May last year I seem to remember a comment from the Raspberry Pi Foundation saying that this would be the last Pi for at least a couple of years. I wasn’t too perturbed by the launch of the Pi Zero, as this was just a bargain basement, let’s see how low we can go, sort of release. It added no new features, and no performance increase over the fastest Pi. But for the Pi 3 to be launched just literally days after I released my latest Raspberry Pi course on Udemy, Build Your Own Retro Games Machine with Raspberry Pi, yeah, I was gutted!
To be honest though, despite the fact that I thought I had at least another year before I would need to make a change to my course, only to find it was instantly out of date and in need of an urgent update straight away, I was excited! And if you are a fan of the Raspberry Pi, who wouldn’t be?
Take a look at the raw specs. It’s a 64 bit processor, up from the 32 bits of the previous Pi’s. The GPU is dual core, where it’s predecessors were single core. The clock speed is 1.2 GHz, much faster than the 900 MHz that the Raspberry Pi 2 came with. And of course, the icing on the cake is the built in WiFi and Bluetooth.
So what does this mean in the real world?
To get to the point, it means you are getting a faster Raspberry Pi for the same money that you would have otherwise spent on the Raspberry Pi 2. In fact, a 50-60% faster Pi. The interesting thing for me though is that all of this is based on the old Pi’s and the Pi 3 running a 32 bit OS. Remember, the Pi 3 is 64 bit, but for the sake of all the benchmarks it is running the same 32 bit software as the Pi 2 (so you can be confident about compatibility).
The Raspberry Pi Foundation have said that they are looking into whether they should release a 64 bit version of Raspian (the default Pi OS). I find this baffling! Why release a 64 bit processor if you don’t intend to take advantage of it! My view is that they have released this iteration of the hardware now because they can. These are the specs that now fit into the $35 price bracket. But to really take advantage of the 64 bit CPU they will need a 64 bit OS, and that will need more RAM than the current Pi 3 has. 1 GB just isn’t going to be enough. I fully expect a 2GB Pi 3 B+ to be announced, if not in the next few months, then certainly in March next year. And I have no doubt that by that time the new hardware will fit nicely into the $35 price bracket.
And after months of waiting…
I’ve finally got my Pi Zero! I was so desperate to get one I got my 76 year old mother to go down to Tesco at 7AM on the day the MagPi mag came out (the one with the free Pi Zero on the cover), only to discover that Ebay scalpers had beaten her to it by seconds (the mags were going on Ebay for $85 plus). It’s taken months of waiting for the Zero to come back into stock and for me to be able to order one. And as soon as I get my Pi 3 I’ll update my Build Your Own Retro Games Machine with Raspberry Pi course, as well as my Raspberry Pi Projects : Build a Media Centre Computer course
When I heard of the release of the new Pi 3 the first thing I did was to put in an order, because it’s all very well to read review after review (which I’ve done), but nothing beats real hands-on experience. However, living in Canada means that it will probably be another few weeks before I get my new Pi 3 delivered (which is particularly frustrating when I see the offer of free next day delivery in the UK). As soon as I get it though I will be doing a comparison of the Pi Zero, Pi 2, and Pi 3. And I will be demonstrating how each of them performs in terms of handling games emulators and media centre software. I’ll let you know when that comparison is ready!
In the meantime, I’m going to be updating both of my courses to change the recommendation from ‘buy the Pi 2’ to ‘buy the Pi 3’. Given that they are exactly the same price it doesn’t make any sense to buy a Pi 2 when the Pi 3 is so much better!