A new version of the popular Raspberry Pi single board computer has been announced, offering a significant boost in compute power while maintaining software compatibility and keeping the same price of $35 (£24).
Available immediately from distributors such as Element 14 and RS Components, the Raspberry Pi 2 features a more powerful 900MHz quad-core processor and 1GB of memory, delivering six times the performance of previous models.
The Broadcom BCM2836 system on a chip that drives the new Raspberry Pi 2 is also based on the ARMv7 architecture, which means that the Pi can now run a broader range of operating systems including Ubuntu Core and even a version of Microsoft's Windows 10 when it ships.
However, Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton was keen to stress that the device is still compatible with current software and projects.
Meanwhile, the extra performance will open up new applications for the Raspberry Pi, which has found favour among hobbyists and the embedded industry as well as the education sector.
"Our original aim was to get more kids into computing by giving them the same experience as people like me who grew up in the 1980s with a computer in their bedroom that was hackable," Upton said.
"The real surprise for us has been the level of interest from hobbyists and the industry."
The original Raspberry Pi has shipped over 4.5 million units, and the team decided that it needed to fix some deficiencies in the device.
At the same time, they didn't want to leave existing users behind, so the Raspberry Pi 2 is the same form factor and keeps software compatibility.
"The performance was about that of a PC from the turn of the century. By moving from a single-core to a faster quad-core processor and double the memory, it now has six times the performance. It is genuinely a PC," Upton said.
The upgraded specifications mean that the Raspberry Pi 2 can run a broader range of operating systems, including the Ubuntu Core platform that Canonical is promoting for embedded applications and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Upton confirmed that the Raspberry Pi team sees the IoT as a one area where the new device will be used.
In a surprise move, Upton also said that the Raspberry Pi 2 will support Microsoft's upcoming Windows 10 platform.
"We've been working with Microsoft for the last six months to enable Windows 10 on the Raspberry Pi. It works, and I've seen it running," he said.
"Our intention is to use it to enable people to build IoT devices with a screen attached, so you take applications that can run on the Surface or Windows Phone and run them on the Raspberry Pi as well."
Upton told V3 that a version of Windows 10 will be available to download from the Raspberry Pi website alongside the existing range of operating system images.
However, he stressed that this will be the ARM-based version of Windows 10. "What you won't see is the Windows desktop or be able to run desktop applications on the Raspberry Pi," he said.
Despite the move to a more powerful chip, the Raspberry Pi 2 has the same power consumption as last year's Model B+ device when idle, Upton said.
This rises to the higher power consumption level of the original device when running a demanding workload.
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