Raspberry Pi 4 sports a faster SoC and dual displays for $35

While many companies have taken a run at making a better single-board computer, the Raspberry Pi family of devices reigns supreme among enthusiastic SBC hobbyists. Today, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced the successor to its successful Raspberry Pi 3 line: the Raspberry Pi 4. This new model packs some big performance boosts and plenty of other new features onto a tiny motherboard.

The Pi 4 boasts a Broadcom BC2711 SoC, which includes four ARM Cortex A72 cores running at a maximum speed of 1.5 GHz. Those Cortex A72 cores feature much-improved single-core performance over the A53 cores found in the previous-fastest Pi, Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. The Pi 4 can come with one, two, or four gigabytes of LPDDR4 memory, where the previous models topped out at just one gig. The BC2711 also brings 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity, as well as hardware decoding for 60 fps H.265 streams at 4K.

The chipset isn’t the only thing that’s changing, however. The Raspberry Pi 4 now includes connections for a pair of 4K displays over HDMI 2.0 using dual Micro HDMI ports. Two of the four USB ports have been upgraded to the 3.0, while the other two maintain USB 2.0 connectivity. A USB Type-C connector accepts 5-volt, 2.5 amp AC adapters, and buyers who want to cut the AC cord entirely can use Power over Ethernet. The Pi4 still includes the same 40-pin GPIO header, bootable MicroSD slot, and 3.5-mm analog audio connections, but its Ethernet jack has been bumped up to Gigabit speed.

Much of what made the Pi series builders’ go-to choice for a single-board computer is its software support. Just like all Raspberry Pi models before it, the Pi 4 gets its software support from NOOBS, the Foundation’s OS management software. NOOBS supports Windows 10 IoT and many flavors of Linux, including Raspbian. No doubt emulation projects like RetroPie and Lakka will pick up on the new hardware soon, too.

Despite all this new hardware, the entry price for the Raspberry Pi 4 remains the same. $35 gets you the base model with one gig of memory, $45 bumps memory up to two gigabytes, and $55 gets you all the way to four gigs of RAM. In North America, Canakit lists these babies as being in stock at the list price for bare boards or in a kit that includes an AC adapter for around $15 more.

Ben Funk

Sega nerd and guitar lover

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thx1138r
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thx1138r

Toms has an article now about a new firmware update for the pi4 that reduces power consumption:
[url<]https://www.tomshardware.com/news/raspberry-pi-4-firmware-update-tested,39791.html[/url<] The pi really does have great support.

tipoo
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tipoo

The Raspberry Pi website was running on 18 Raspberry Pi 4’s when they launched it, pretty neat

[url<]https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/06/the-raspberry-pi-4-launch-site-runs-on-a-pi-4-cluster/[/url<]

fyo
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fyo

Except it wasn’t. Some static html was served from the cluster, but the CDN provided the brunt of the traffic and the database was hosted on a “real” server.

Cute publicity stunt, though.

thx1138r
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thx1138r

Only that’s not accurate either. The extent of the pi4’s web serving is well documented, eg:
[url<]https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/06/the-raspberry-pi-4-launch-site-runs-on-a-pi-4-cluster/[/url<] Of the 18 node pi4 cluster, only 2 were serving static files, 14 were handling PHP code and 2 were running memcached.

willmore
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willmore

I guess that explains the slow download speeds for the new Buster image. What’s the point of having 500Mb/s symetric when there’s a damned raspberry pi serving off of a micro-SD card on the other end? 🙂

thx1138r
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thx1138r

They were using the 4GB pi4’s, so the image would easily fit in RAM!

WhatMeWorry
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WhatMeWorry

I think they should have named the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ the Raspberry Pi 3.14159

bthylafh
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bthylafh

I’m pretty tempted to buy one of these along with a USB->Ethernet dongle and make a pfSense box. My current router is pretty nice but there are some things that are annoyingly impossible, like telling clients to use a different DNS host.

Vaughn
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Vaughn

Buy an asus router.

derFunkenstein
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derFunkenstein

Can your router run a custom firmware like tomato or DD-WRT? I’ve got a TP Link Archer C7 (rev 4) and the stock firmware was awful. DD-WRT is a huge improvement in functionality.

Usacomp2k3
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Usacomp2k3

An EdgeRouter ain’t much more than this.

FlamingSpaceJunk
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FlamingSpaceJunk

pfSense is x86 exclusive, so that won’t work. 🙂

Most people recommend the PC Engine APU2 (https://www.pcengines.ch/apu2.htm) for this type of project, and Hardkernel’s H2 (https://www.hardkernel.com/shop/odroid-h2/) could be another option.

Also checkout OPNsense (https://opnsense.org/). It’s based on a much more stock version of FreeBSD which makes it easier to figure out what’s going wrong, and it makes it easier to do more custom stuff since it’s closer to stock FreeBSD. 🙂

BobbinThreadbare
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BobbinThreadbare

It would be nice to be able to throw Android TV on one of these, looks like Android support for the 3 is not in great shape

willmore
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willmore

Most of the Rpi are based on repurposed STB chips, so android isn’t a big thing there for Broadcom–they mostly sell to people who use their SDK and skin over it to make their devices. IIRC, Amazon fire TV, Chromecast, Roko, have hosted similar chips in some of their incarnations in the past.

You’ll have better luck finding a decent Android on one of the premium STB chip vendors–RockChip, AmLogic, etc. Specifically, HardKernel supports Android on many of their ODROID boards (that’s actually what the name meant Open Android).

willmore
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willmore

There’s a lot of talk about dual 4K support, but it doesn’t seem like that’s what they claiming. There are some internal bandwidth issues and it looks like it will only support one 4K display or two 1080p displays.

Edited to add:
Yes, I’ve seen verification, it’s currently *one* 4Kp30 display, but they hope to move to one 4Kp60 display, two 4Kp30 displays, or 2 1080p60 displays. No news on what the timeline is.

jensend
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jensend

[url=https://medium.com/@ghalfacree/benchmarking-the-raspberry-pi-4-73e5afbcd54b<]Here's a good set of benchmarks.[/url<] Wow. Almost everything people were hoping for, more than half a year earlier than the (slow) projected release date. The one downside of the Pi 4: A72 on 28nm rather than A73 on 14nm means this is considerably more power-hungry and hot than the already-rather-hot 3B+. Given the complexity of dealing with small nodes and how many higher-cost products are still using 14nm fab capacity, this may have been kinda inevitable for a $35 system. But it'd better not take them another 7 years before their next die shrink.

jensend
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jensend

One perk of the Pi that I found interesting was the free copy of Mathematica. But on the original Pi, with 700MHz ARM11 and an untuned [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Linear_Algebra_Subprograms<]BLAS[/url<], it was glacially slow. The Pi 2, 3, and 3+ improved the situation but it was still rough going. But that's about to change. Sometime in the past year Wolfram quietly got it working with a halfway decent ARM BLAS, making linear algebra benchmarks 5x as fast (and since so much of mathematics is "reduce this problem to linear algebra then solve" this has wide implications). Doesn't work on the RPi 4 yet though (needs to be updated for new Debian). Once they release Mathematica 12 for Pi - which [url=https://community.wolfram.com/groups/-/m/t/1664758<]they say should be within weeks[/url<] - it'll work on the RPi 4, making it another 3x as fast. This should make it quite comfortable for e.g. basic student use.

Leader952
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Leader952

Overclocking the Raspberry Pi 4

[url<]https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/raspberry-pi-4-b-overclocking,6188.html[/url<]

Mr Bill
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Mr Bill

Its like we are starting all over again with socket 7!

Beahmont
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Beahmont

So can anyone tell me the max capacity of the Micro SD the Pi 4 can handle?

I looked around all the documentation on the website I could find for the Pi 4, but everything I found just says ‘Micro SD card for boot up’ or similar.

I’m just really curious what size Mirco SD I can use for the boot/storage drive.

thx1138r
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thx1138r

From what I remember the pi 3 had no upper limit on SD card size, so this board is likely no different.

Grahambo910
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Grahambo910

I’ve got a 3B+ with a 128GB card running without issue, so would expect the same from the 4.

Chuckaluphagus
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Chuckaluphagus

You can [url=https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/hardware/raspberrypi/bootmodes/msd.md<]boot most recent Pis from a hard drive[/url<], no microSD card required after a first boot and installation. I assume it's the same for the Pi 4, because I can't imagine they would have ditched that feature. I've had a Pi 3B booting off a hard drive for a year now, it works fine.

willmore
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willmore

That’s the goal with the Rpi4, but it’s not currently able to do it.

The 4 has a completely different boot sequence than all earlier boards. It boots from a SPI NOR flash chip and that handles the rest of bootup.

Chuckaluphagus
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Chuckaluphagus

Drat. I saw that it couldn’t do netboot yet, but nothing about booting from a hard drive. Hope they get that resolved quickly.

willmore
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willmore

They chose to use an external USB3 controller (instead of the one built into the chip) so that means the boot ROM in the chip itself doesn’t know how bring up PCI-E, init the XHCI/EHCI controller and scan it for boot devices. The consequence of that is needing to put USB support into the later stage boot loader. The story the Foundation is saying is that the silicon didn’t take as many spins to get working acceptably (except for the USB3 controller presumably) so they were caught a bit flat footed on the software side of things. Which is to… Read more »

thx1138r
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thx1138r

How about some benchmarks. I see there are already a few benchmark comparison on the web between this and the previous Pi’s, but how about showing us how this compares to some basic Atom based boards?

Leader952
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Leader952

You don’t have to wait for benchmarks here (which probably will never happen).

Full review is here:

Raspberry Pi 4 Review: The New Gold Standard for Single-Board Computing
[url<]https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/raspberry-pi-4-b,6193.html[/url<]

derFunkenstein
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derFunkenstein

We don’t have a Pi 4 yet. Sorry.

I’m very interested in getting one, installing Raspbian, and doing general productivity benchmarks. It’d be a great first PC for my daughter. I just don’t have the hardware yet.

DeadOfKnight
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DeadOfKnight

How old is she?

derFunkenstein
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derFunkenstein

11 in a month. And we’re still not sure we want her to have her own PC.

Srsly_Bro
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Srsly_Bro

How will she play Minecraft??

derFunkenstein
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derFunkenstein

On the Switch.

willmore
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willmore

[url<]https://github.com/ThomasKaiser/sbc-bench/blob/master/Results.md[/url<] Compared to the Atoms, basically the Rpi4 gets clubbed like a baby seal. Two of those benchmarks take advantage of AES acceleration instructions and the Rpi boards don't have those, so they suffer greatly. The remaining ones are pretty strongly memory influenced/CPU bound and again, the Rpi 4 falls far behind. Remember the days when graphics were in the northbridge and the graphics resolution effected benchmark tests because of all the BW it took to refresh the screen would eat into what the CPU could use? That's where the Rpi 4 is. I'd be very curious to see how it does in benchmark tests headless vs with a 4K display attached. It's only got one little 32-bit LPDDR4 interface to feed it.

thx1138r
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thx1138r

Thanks for the link, interesting. Couple of points: The performance against comparable Atoms seems quite good to me, for example it boasts a better 7-zip score than the 3 year old Intel Atom x5-Z8350. Sure, it loses to the newer/higher-clocked/more-power-hungry top-of-the-line Celeron J4105 by 64%, but that’s understandable. About AES, the Coretex A-72 in the new raspberry pi does support the ARMv8 Cryptography Extensions which would greatly accelerate those AES scores, however, the board needs to run in 64-bit mode in order for those instructions to be available. Raspbian is still 32-bit, for compatibility purposes. You can clearly see the… Read more »

willmore
Guest
willmore

Where are you seeing that the Rpi4 supports the AES extensions? From all I’ve read that’s not the case. It would be great if it did.

[url<]https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=243410[/url<] That's the guy who designed the board saying no, BTW.

fyo
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fyo

Just to quibble. James Hughes is the Principle [b<]Software[/b<] Engineer. Unlikely that he "designed the board". (He does moderate on the boards, though, if that counts.)

willmore
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willmore

Oops, thanks for the correction. I still think we can consider him an authority. 🙂

thx1138r
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thx1138r

Hmm, because the AES extensions are part of the 64bit instruction set I had assumed that they simply were not showing up because the usual Raspbian OS runs in 32bit mode. This might still be the case, but, digging a lot deeper it looks like the AES instructions can be optional and that the A72 in the pi4 has might not have implemented them. I’m more confused now than I was before, but I’m sure the situation will become more clear in the near future.

willmore
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willmore

You’re right, they are optional extensions I believe there are three different optional ones. AES, SHA, and one other. It’s not CRC32, I think that’s part of the SHA “has functions” block. I thought I’d look through my SBCs and see if any of them mentioned not having AES on a chip I knew had it, but I don’t have anything 64bit capable *not* running 64bit because why would you do that? 😉 On ARM, going from v7 to v8, you get double the number of registers and they are each twice as wide. Why would you ever not want… Read more »

Neutronbeam
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Neutronbeam

I have to admit this full kit is pretty tempting–

[url<]https://www.raspberrypi.org/products/raspberry-pi-4-desktop-kit/[/url<] Extra points for naming the software that installs the operating system NOOBS.

Usacomp2k3
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Usacomp2k3

That’s getting really close to fast enough for a NAS+Plex box, assuming low amounts of transcoding (I’d personally prefer to pre-encode such that no transcoding is needed on my devices). How’s the storage config on those? Is there a shield that’ll plug into the header to provide 4+ SATA ports?

BobbinThreadbare
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BobbinThreadbare

You can get really cheap low power devices that can decode virtually any codec these days. I’m not sure worrying about encoding is worth the brain time.

Usacomp2k3
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Usacomp2k3

It’s the encoding that requires more grunt, not the decoding.

BobbinThreadbare
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BobbinThreadbare

Right, but I’m saying whatever encoding you start with is fine. Unless you mean ripping your own BluRays and wanting to compress? In which case yeah pick something that makes sense.

Usacomp2k3
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Usacomp2k3

I’m talking ripping, yes. Still not sure I get your meaning though. Hmm.
If I encode all my rips to something that all downstream devices can decode natively (like h.265), then the Plex does no transcoding, it’s all direct play. That activity seems like something the rPi would be able to handle. Adding in any transcoding seems to me like a non-starter (especially since hardware-accelerated transcoding support is very spotty)

Laykun
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Laykun

If you have older content, or someone tries to play plex content in the browser you’re generally going to need to do some level on transcoding regardless.

jarder
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jarder

I was thinking along the same lines. I didn’t find anything like a 4 SATA ports shield, but I did see a few ways to directly connect a few SATA drives up to a single USB3 port, like an external 4 SATA docking station arrangement:
[url<]https://www.startech.com/HDD/Docking/~SDOCK4U313[/url<] or a dedicated External drive box for 4 SATA drives: [url<]https://www.startech.com/HDD/Enclosures/USB-eSATA-4-Bay-SATA-Hard-Drive-Enclosure~S3540BU33E[/url<] or if you really want to go to town, 8 SATA drives: [url<]https://www.startech.com/HDD/Enclosures/8-bay-removable-hard-drive-enclosure~S358BU33ERM[/url<]

thx1138r
Guest
thx1138r

Nice, but a far cheaper option would be to just get a powered USB3 hub and some portable usb3 hard drives…

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