The Raspberry Pi 5: A Delicious Upgrade for Tech Enthusiasts
Four years after the release of the Raspberry Pi 4, the Raspberry Pi team has unveiled their latest creation: the Raspberry Pi 5. This new iteration is a worthy successor, boasting updated components with improved specifications and some innovative custom silicon.
For those unfamiliar with the Raspberry Pi’s original concept, it all began in 2012 when the Raspberry Pi Foundation and its commercial arm started designing and selling affordable single-board computers, roughly the size of a deck of cards. These computers are built around Arm systems-on-a-chip and pack all the features you’d expect from a full-sized computer, including USB ports, HDMI output, Ethernet connectivity, and more. Over time, they’ve even gained additional capabilities, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support.
Tech hobbyists quickly embraced these small yet versatile computers, using them for a wide range of projects like building media servers, retro game consoles, interactive dashboards, and robotics experiments. The Raspberry Pi became a valuable tool for anyone looking to dive into coding and networking.
In addition to the enthusiast community, companies also began adopting Raspberry Pi for industrial control and as thin clients for office setups. Its popularity grew to the extent that it sometimes faced supply shortages due to high demand, supply chain issues, and scalpers taking advantage of its success.
Now, let’s delve into the specifications of the Raspberry Pi 5. It features a 64-bit quad-core Arm Cortex-A76 processor running at 2.4GHz, equipped with 512KB per-core L2 caches and a shared 2MB L3 cache. Just like its predecessor, the Raspberry Pi 4, it supports Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 5.0, Bluetooth Low Energy, and Gigabit Ethernet. This new version offers two micro-HDMI ports, allowing you to connect two 4K displays with a 60Hz refresh rate and HDR support using a single Raspberry Pi.
When it comes to USB ports, you’ll find two full-size USB 3.0 ports with support for simultaneous 5Gbps data transfer speeds, alongside two full-size USB 2.0 ports. The power is delivered via a USB-C port. An exciting addition is the single-lane PCIe 2.0 interface, making it easier to connect PCI Express peripherals. However, you’ll need an HAT extension or an adapter to take full advantage of this feature. Power-over-Ethernet is also supported through a separate HAT.
The Raspberry Pi 5 maintains its familiar 40-pin header and MIPI camera/display ports, which have been upgraded from 2 × 2 lanes to 2 × 4 lanes. The microSD card slot’s performance has also doubled.
In terms of pricing, the Raspberry Pi 5 offers two variants: one with 4GB of RAM for $60 and an 8GB version for $80. While the entry price is higher compared to its predecessors, the Raspberry Pi 4 will still be available in configurations with 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB of RAM. When comparing models with the same amount of RAM, the Raspberry Pi 5 represents a $5 price increase.
One notable feature of the Raspberry Pi 5 is its custom silicon, the RP1, which serves as a southbridge chip handling I/O functions. This chip replaces some functions that were previously managed by the main system-on-a-chip. Previous Raspberry Pi models relied on I/O controllers from third-party companies. In technical terms, it takes over tasks such as GPIO and associated low-speed peripherals, Ethernet MAC, MIPI CSI/DSI, and analog TV functions, leaving HDMI, SDRAM, and PCI Express to the main SoC.
The Raspberry Pi 5 is a testament to the Raspberry Pi team’s commitment to controlling more of its components. The team’s scale has allowed it to undertake projects like this, aiming for better unit economics.
In 2021, the Raspberry Pi’s trading arm raised $45 million to invest in its supply chain and develop new products. Due to its unique position in the market, the Raspberry Pi remains in high demand, and the Raspberry Pi 5 is planned to stay in production until 2035. Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton emphasized the value proposition of Raspberry Pi, highlighting its ability to fulfill orders even on a massive scale.
The Raspberry Pi 4 will continue to be available, and the Raspberry Pi 5 units are expected to hit the market before the end of October. Despite production challenges, several million units of the new chipset are on order, and the team anticipates building nearly a million Raspberry Pi 5 units before Christmas while sustaining production for Raspberry Pi 4 and earlier models.