Raspberry Pi 5: Faster, Better, Stronger — Spendier

Welcome to The Long View—where we peruse the news of the week and strip it to the essentials. Let’s work out what really matters.

In a cheeky extra post this week: Everyone’s favorite single-board ARM computer, the Raspberry Pi, has a new generation coming soon. Compared to the ’4, RPi5 has double the performance, quadruple the base RAM and far more capable I/O.

Analysis: And you’ll even be able to buy one

The pandemic completely messed up the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s supply chains, meaning they had to focus on supplying companies who’d forward-bought the devices. This time, Eben Upton’s crew are trying to get back to their roots, promising—for the first couple of months—to sell RPi5s only to individuals.

What’s the story? Alaina Yee reports—“Raspberry Pi 5 just got announced”:

I can’t wait
Forget the holiday pie, this is what I want on my table for Thanksgiving. … It looks totally badass. … Not only does the Raspberry Pi 5 appear ready to deliver a sizable step up in performance compared to its 2019 predecessor, but its new silicon was designed in-house.

The Raspberry Pi 5 is leaning hard into high-octane mini-computing. … You can expect the Raspberry Pi 5 to be about two to three times faster. Memory bandwidth also doubles.

And … a new official first-party operating system will be launching … in mid-October. Called Raspberry Pi OS, it’s based on the Linux Debian distro, as well as the Raspbian derivative that’s existed for years. … I can’t wait.

Speeds and feeds? Brad Linder’s got ’em—“Raspberry Pi 5 offers 2X the performance”:

4x ARM Cortex-A76
The new Raspberry Pi 5 is a single-board computer that’s a major upgrade over the Raspberry Pi 4 … in just about every way. … At launch, there will be two configurations available: a model with 4GB of RAM that sells for $60 and an 8GB version priced at $80. That means the starting model has twice as much RAM as a $35 Raspberry Pi 4.

At the heart of new computer is a new … 16nm chip featuring 4x ARM Cortex-A76 CPU cores @ 2.4 GHz, 512KB per-core L2 cache, 2MB L3 cache, VideoCore VII graphics with support for dual 4k/60 Hz HDMI displays. [It] also features 32-bit LPDDR4X 4267MT/s memory … 2x micro HDMI (4K/60Hz), 2x USB 3.0 Type-A, 2x USB 2.0 Type-A, 1x Gigabit Ethernet with PoE support, 1x USB-C power input, 1x microSD card reader. … There are also two 4-lane MIPI interfaces.

DevOps World 2023

Horse’s mouth? Eben Upton—“Introducing: Raspberry Pi 5!”:

We’re incredibly grateful
Virtually every aspect of the platform has been upgraded, delivering a no-compromises user experience. … And it’s the first Raspberry Pi computer to feature silicon designed in‑house here in Cambridge, UK. … Broadcom’s VideoCore VII [is also] developed here.

Like all flagship Raspberry Pi products [it’s] built at the Sony UK Technology Centre in Pencoed, South Wales. We have been working with Sony since the launch of the first Raspberry Pi … in 2012, and we’re firm believers in the benefits of manufacturing our products within a few hours’ drive of our engineering design centre in Cambridge.

We expect the first units to ship by the end of October. … We’re incredibly grateful to the community of makers and hackers who make Raspberry Pi what it is. [So,] we’re going to ringfence all of the Raspberry Pi 5s we sell until at least the end of the year for single-unit sales to individuals.

Are you excited yet? Dioptase is excited by the little things:

One important feature not yet mentioned is the soft power button. Boots the RPI 5 as well as powering down. I believe the default is to go into sleep mode, but there is apparently an option to run a shutdown script.

For headless setups, this is great news. I learned the hard way that the FS can get corrupted if you just unplug.

What’s it like? chewitt has already tasted it:

There are significant changes in I/O performance: … SD supports SRD104, USB3 runs at 5Gbps on both sockets, LPDDR4 RAM, all the GPIO periperals are now managed by a dedicated RP1 chip (Cortex M3) to add bandwidth.

I had a functionally complete … image built and running 58 mins after DHL delivered the board sample; It’s the least-effort board bring-up I’ve ever done with the distro. I’m sure Pi devs (and the numerous well-known contractors and development shops they hired to do specific things) will give themselves a short break and beer today, but then pushing code upstream will start.

OK, so it’s faster, but is it fast enough? Johannesburgel12 is left with a head-scratcher:

The Cortex-A76 is a five year old design that has been surpassed by five (!) generations of ARM Cores (A77, A78, A710, A715, A720). … The more modern designs on a more modern manufacturing process would actually produce smaller chips with a lower power draw. But I’ve never really understood why they have to create their own chip designs to begin with.

But TheJish thinks that’s missing the point:

I agree that there are much better SBC options out there. … However, where the RPi shines is in how mature the software stack is for it. The support for video, audio, and I/O is truly excellent on the RPi compared to other vendors.

The I/O stack just works, and it works reliably (not to mention availability of documentation). We ported our platform to the NanoPi M4 and M4B and had nothing but problems. … The bottom line is if you want to do real embedded systems things with your SBC, you’ll have a much easier time with the RPi than anything else in its class.

Upton’s apology aside, let’s not forget the pachyderm in the parlor. baylf2000 neither forgets nor forgives:

After the way Raspberry treated their loyal fan base during the pandemic, tossing them aside in favour of making big bucks from their big corporate customers, I’ll be giving all their products a miss from now on. … After their treatment of their community, they can suck it.

Meanwhile, apparently it can run the ARM builds of Windows. Boris the Cockroach pictures the scene:

Ahhh, that’s a very nice processor you got there. Would be a shame if something — happened — to all those spare clock cycles.

The Moral of the Story:
You’re not defined by your past—you’re prepared by it

—Joel Osteen

You have been reading The Long View by Richi Jennings. You can contact him at @RiCHi, @richij or [email protected].

Image: Paul Shore (via Unsplash; leveled and cropped)