The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, available from Element 14, was recently released and it’s a serious step up from its predecessors. Before we dive in to what makes it an outstanding product, the Raspberry Pi family tree going from oldest to newest, is as follows:
- Raspberry Pi B
- Raspberry Pi A
- Raspberry Pi B+
- Raspberry Pi A+
- Raspberry Pi 2 Model B
The + models were upgrades of the previous board versions and the RPi2B is the Raspberry Pi B+’s direct descendent with added muscle. So, what makes the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B great?
- The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B has a 40 pin GPIO header as did the A+ and B+ and the first 26 pins are identical to the A and B models making the new board a drop-in upgrade for most projects. The new board also supports all of the expansion (HAT) boards used by the previous models.
- The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B has an identical board layout and footprint as the B+, so all cases and 3rd party add-on boards designed for the B+ will be fully compatible.
- In common with the B+ the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B has 4 USB 2.0 ports (compared to 2 USB ports on the A, A+, and B models) that can provide up to 1.2 Amps for the more power hungry USB devices (this feature does, however, require a 2 Amp power supply).
- The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B video output is via a full-sized HDMI (rev 1.3 & 1.4) port with 14 HDMI resolutions from 640×350 to 1920×1200 with digital audio (there's also composite video output; see below).
- The A, A+, and B models use linear power regulators while the B+ and the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B have switching regulators which reduce power consumption by between 0.5W and 1W.
- In common with the B+, the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B’s audio circuit has a dedicated low-noise power supply for better audio quality and analog stereo audio is output on the four pole 3.5mm jack it shares with composite video (PAL and NTSC) output.
- The previous top of the line B+ model had 512MB of RAM while the new Raspberry Pi 2 Model B now has 1GB making it possible to run larger applications and more complex operating system environments.
- The previous Raspberry Pi models used a 700 MHz single-core ARM1176JZF-S processor while the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B has upped the ante to a 900 MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7, a considerably faster CPU. The result is performance that’s roughly 6 times better! The advantages of upgrading existing projects to the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B are huge.
- Not only will the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B run all of the operating systems its predecessors ran, it will also be able to run Microsoft’s Windows 10 … for free! Yep, Microsoft has decided that it wants to be part of the Raspberry Pi world and for a good reason; a huge number of kids will have their first experience of computing on RPi boards and what better way to gain new acolytes?
- This may be the best improvement of the lot: For the added compute power, increased RAM, and drop-in compatibility there’s no extra cost! The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B is priced at $35, the same as its predecessor!
The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B is one of the best (quite possibly, *the* best) single board computers available and, given the huge popularity of the Raspberry Pi family (now with more than 500,000 Raspberry Pi 2 Model B's sold and around 5 million Pi's in total if you include all models), it’s one of the best understood and supported products of its kind. Whether it’s for hobbyist, educational, or commercial use, the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B is an outstanding product.
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