Out of the blue the new Raspberry Pi 2 is official. It’s a successor to the B+ model and features the same hardware arrangement (1x Ethernet, 4x USB 2.0), but a much upgraded CPU – a quad-core Cortex-A7 at 900MHz. The best part is that Microsoft will provide a free Windows 10 version!
All this for the same $35 price tag.
The old ARMv6 single core processor has been replaced by a quad-core Cortex-A7 (ARMv7) and is “6 times faster.” I put that in quotes because depending on workload – say SunSpider – just one of the four cores can be 4 times faster than the original Pi processor. The new instruction set has a potential for a 20x increase in video decoding performance.
Also, the RAM has been doubled to 1GB. There’s no Model A 2 for now though that hasn’t been ruled out. The chipset uses the same GPU as before, which should still be pretty fast. It’s the only 3D GPU with a public documentation, which makes it the only viable choice for a system that values openness.
In terms of software, the Raspberry Pi 2 will use the same ARMv6 Raspbian (based on Debian) at launch, but the ARMv7 version of Debian is being tasted to see if it’s faster or a hybrid between the two will be a better option. There’s an ARMv7 version of Ubuntu available right now.
The best part is that Microsoft will release a Raspberry Pi 2-compatible version of Windows 10, for free! In 2013 the Pi got a free version of Mathematica package, but this is pretty huge – with the extra horse power and a familiar OS, the Pi 2 will make a decent, extremely cheap computer for regular folks as well as tech enthusiasts.
You can find more info on the special Windows 10 version.
The new Raspberry Pi 2 is available now at $35 from elements14 and RS Components (others too), while the B+ model will continue to be available (for industrial customers who prefer well-tested hardware over extra performance). The Raspberry Pi A+ will still be available at $20, a second generation replacement is not expected this year.
Update: It seems that the Windows 10 version for Raspberry may not be a full-fledged desktop. Details are still pretty scarce.