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5 Major Upgrades on Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

It's Early but a Good one!

It caught everyone by surprise when Raspberry Pi Foundation launched Raspberry Pi 4 Model B on 24th June 2019 because from the interview with Eben Upton, by Tom’s Hardware, it should not come in 2019 🙂  

Anyway, Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is finally here. Get it at Cytron – Largest Digital Maker Marketplace. And I am sure you will not like it, but love it instead!

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B Top View
Raspberry Pi 4 Model B Bottom View

OVERVIEW AND UPGRADES

Anyway, I believe most of us are happy and excited to see Raspberry Pi 4 Model B being launched earlier than expected. Let’s take a look at what are the improvements and I will elaborates 5 major upgrades that you might love or maybe…. Hate?? Let’s start with the overview.

The overview: Black color text indicates no changes from Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

Picture tells a thousand words, while maintaining the PCB size and most of the components layout, Raspberry Pi design team had again amazed us by squeezing many upgrades that we anticipate for so long.

1. Upgrade of SDRAM from DDR2 to DDR4, and upto 4GB!

Many would agree with me, we will choose the latest SDRAM technology and highest RAM size when we want to get a laptop or smartphone. It applied to getting the single board computer too, but Raspberry Pi has been using DDR2, century old technology, and maximum capacity of 1GB since Raspberry Pi 2 up until Raspberry Pi 3B+. Many projects have seen constraints due to the RAM speed and size. Well, Raspberry Pi 4 Model B solves both these wishes. It offers not a jump to DDR3, but double upgrades to DDR4. Raspberry Pi 4 Model B comes with DDR4 RAM which offers lower operating voltage at 1.2V vs 1.8V on DDR2, and faster data access of 2133 to 3122 Mt/s (Megatransfer per second). With DDR4 SDRAM, Raspberry Pi 4 B will run faster even if the RAM remains at 1GB 🙂 But, it does not stop there, Raspberry Pi 4B comes with 3 RAM size variants. The standard basic board begins at 1GB, if you are using it as a media player, edge computing or browsing the Internet with multiple tab, there are 2GB and 4GB choice for you 🙂 So now, you don’t have excuses that Raspberry Pi does not have high speed and enough RAM!

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B LPDDR4 RAM

2. Boosting Processor Performance with Cortex-A72 instead of Cortex-A53

It will not be Raspberry Pi 4 without the upgrade of processor right? Raspberry Pi 4 B has upgraded the processor from BCM2837, Cortex-A53 on Raspberry Pi 3B+ to BCM2711, Cortex-A72 that focus on performance. According to Processor Digest, A72 is bigger core that comes with more L1 and L2 cache. While A72 may consume more power, the 28nm technology on new BCM2711 actually offers better power efficiency compared to 40nm SoC on Raspberry Pi 3 B+. Overall, you will see better performance on Raspberry Pi 4 B with the quad-core A72 processor running at 1.5GHz.

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B CPU - BCM2711

3. True Gigabit Ethernet Port

We are kind of disappointed when the Ethernet speed is not true Gigabit on Raspberry Pi 3B+ as it is limited by USB + Ethernet hub that interfaces via USB2.0 to the processor. I am pretty confident you will be happy now, Raspberry Pi 4 B comes with true Gigabit Ethernet port! This latest Raspberry Pi computer uses BCM54213PE Single Port RGMII Gigabit Ethernet Transceiver to perform all physical-layer functions for 1000BASE-T Ethernet. This is a true gigabit Ethernet transceiver as opposed to the Microchip’s LAN7515, USB and Ethernet hub. Theoretically, LAN7515 is able to handle Gigabit Ethernet, but it is interfaced to processor via USB2.0 on Raspberry Pi 3B+, therefore the actual Ethernet speed is limited to 300Mbit/s. Actual test results show Ethernet speed over 900MBit/s. Anyway, with true Gigabit Ethernet port on Raspberry Pi 4 B, making it as a media server to stream media files or a VPN server will be smoother, a big improvement for many Internet speed intensive applications! We are looking forward to seeing the advance applications you can do with this upgrade.

The BCM54213PE Ethernet Transceiver IC, PoE Header Pins and True Gigabit Ethernet Port

There is a change that you might not like, though. The Ethernet port is being swapped with 2 USB ports. I believe the reason behind this swap is to place Ethernet port close to the PoE (Power over Ethernet) pins and further shorten the PoE power tracks on PCB. This will improves the efficiency of PoE and should also reduce any noise. With that we are pretty sure Raspberry Pi 4 Model B will still be fully compatible with the official Raspberry Pi PoE HAT.

On the other hand, with this swap, most of the enclosure for Raspberry Pi 3 B or B+ will not be compatible with Raspberry Pi 4 B 🙁 That’s the give-and-take, I guess.

4. Two USB 3.0 Ports

Another great upgrade for connectivity on Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. There are still four (4) Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports, but two (2) of them are upgraded to USB 3.0, while the other two remain USB 2.0. Pi 4B comes with VIA’s VL805 4 ports USB 3.0 Host (only) controller that supports a PCI Express interface and enabled the SoC to interface with USB Super-Speed – 5 Gbit/s (625MB/s), High-Speed – 480 Mbit/s (60MB/s), Full-Speed – 12 Mbit/s (1.5MB/s), and Low-Speed – 1.5 Mbit/s devices.

VIA’s VL805-06 USB 3.0 Host Controller
VL805 USB 3.0 Host Controller Block Diagram

Raspberry Pi 4 B implements two USB 3.0 ports only, though. And that are sufficient for many projects that require high speed USB connection like media server, data logging, USB to SATA hub, or high speed & resolution USB camera. Best of all, USB3.0 is backward compatible, you can still connect all your USB 2.0 devices (mouse, keyboard, webcam, flash drive, etc) to these blue color ports 🙂

USB 2.0 + USB 3.0 + True Gigabit Ethernet Ports

5. 4K Multimedia with 2 x Micro HDMI supporting Dual Display

Computer is always good for multimedia projects, and we know there are many Raspberry Pis being used as media box, computer laptop, kiosk or advertisement panel. You will love this upgrade, Raspberry Pi 4 Model B comes with VideoCore VI that supports:

Well, there are plenty of technical specification there 🙂 In short, Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is capable of delivering 4Kp60 multimedia experience, Awesome!

As the GPU on BCM2711 is capable of supporting dual/twin display, Raspberry Pi 4 B comes with two HDMI ports. And to accommodate two HDMI ports, micro HDMI port is chosen 🙂 It looks like USB mini B port at first glance, but that is micro HDMI. Now, you can get dual monitor/display with Raspberry Pi 4B, making advertisement panel or kiosk should be fairly easy and interesting. The latest Raspbian should comes ready to support this feature, yet we have not test it. Practically, 4B will not be able to output dual 4Kp60 display due to other hardware limitations, but dual 1080p60 is possible, Raspberry Pi team is looking at making dual 4Kp30 display via these micro HDMI ports.

2 x micro HDMI port on Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

Of course with the upgrade to micro HDMI ports, you will need micro HDMI to standard HDMI cable to connect the Raspberry Pi 4B to monitor/display panel. And most of enclosure (99%) for Raspberry Pi 3B or 3B+ will not be compatible with Raspberry Pi 4 B computer due to this upgrade too (besides the swap of Ethernet and USB ports).

You might love these upgrades too:

USB Type C for 15W Input Power

Yup, there is USB type C on Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, but it is meant for power input. Conventionally, all Raspberry Pi boards use USB micro B jack as power input port. As the power requirement of Raspberry Pi increases in new model, USB micro B is not suitable to deliver high current power to the board. So is kind of natural for this computer to upgrade the power port to USB type C. The USB type C port on Raspberry Pi 4 B can only supports 5V and not other power mode. Do get yourself the official power adapter for Raspberry Pi 4 from here, 15W, 5V/3A, 1.5 meter cable length.

USB C as Power Input port on Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

Bluetooth 5.0 upgrade from 4.2 on 3B+

Although it is hidden under a metal shield, it is actually packed with various wireless connectivity that include WiFi IEEE 802.11 b/g/n/ac (dual band, 24GHz & 5GHz) and Bluetooth. And on Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, the Bluetooth 4.2 has been upgraded to 5.0, and preserves the BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy).

Thanks to to Amar Info Tech that written very detailed article on Bluetooth 5.0 vs 4.2:

Bluetooth 5.0 is the continuation of Low Energy LE. Its speed is 48MBps (double than the last version). It can be connected up to the distance of 300 meters or 985 feet (4 times last version). The ISM band ranges from 2.4-2.485 GHz. One little disappointing thing for users is that it doesn’t have any backward compatibility with its old or previous versions. It requires new hardware which should be latest and advanced so that those devices meet the requirements of Bluetooth v5.0 to run it smoothly.”, by Amar Info Tech.

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B comes with Bluetooth 5.0 + BLE + Dual band WiFi

Now, the Bluetooth on Raspberry Pi can offer faster speed and longer wireless connectivity 🙂

Summary

I am pretty excited when I first see the spec of this new credit-card-sized computer. I am amazed with the upgrades Raspberry Pi engineering team has been able to squeeze into this board and still maintain backward compatibility. Not all, but most 🙂 Looking forward to seeing more interesting projects and applications from the community.

Get the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B here: (As of 24th June 2019, Cytron marketplace has only 300 pcs of 1GB version, is limited. So grab it fast if you really wanted it)

  1. Raspberry Pi 4 Model B 1GB: https://www.cytron.io/p-raspberry-pi-4b-1g
  2. Raspberry Pi 4 Model B 2GB: https://www.cytron.io/p-raspberry-pi-4b-2g
  3. Raspberry Pi 4 Model B 4GB: https://www.cytron.io/p-raspberry-pi-4b-4g
  4. Official RPi 15W (5V/3A) PSU USB C UK Plug – White: https://www.cytron.io/p-rpi-5-3-uk-w
  5. Official RPi 15W (5V/3A) PSU USB C UK Plug – Black: https://www.cytron.io/p-rpi-5-3-uk-b
  6. Official RPi 15W (5V/3A) PSU USB C EU Plug – White: https://www.cytron.io/p-rpi-5-3-eu-w
  7. Official Micro HDMI to Standard HDMI (A/M) 1m Cable: https://www.cytron.io/p-rpi-hdmi-micro-w
  8. Official 16GB microSD with NOOBS (support RPi 4B): https://www.cytron.io/p-mmr-usd-16g
  9. Official Case for Raspberry Pi 4B (Red/White) (Coming soon): https://www.cytron.io/p-rpi-case-4w
  10. Official Case for Raspberry Pi 4B (Red/White) (Coming soon): https://www.cytron.io/p-rpi-case-4w
  11. USB micro-B to USB-C Adapter (White): https://www.cytron.io/p-rpi-adp-usbc-w
  12. USB micro-B to USB-C Adapter (Black): https://www.cytron.io/p-rpi-adp-usbc-b
  13. Official Raspberry Pi 4 Beginner’s Guide 2nd Edition – Fully updated for Raspberry Pi 4: https://www.cytron.io/p-rpi-pi4-guide
  14. Official Raspberry Pi 4 Computer Desktop Kit (coming soon): https://www.cytron.io/p-kit-desk-rpi4-uk

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