In Depth

Raspberry Pi 4: the credit card-sized computer and what you can do with it

All-new hardware offers 4K support and up to 4GB of RAM

Budding programmers and engineers are gearing up to build their own budget PCs, following the unveiling of the fourth-generation Raspberry Pi.

The credit card-sized computer has been a huge hit since the original was released seven years ago by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK-based charity that aims to help more people worldwide harness the power of computing. And with up to 4GB of RAM, the new Raspberry Pi 4 promises to be 40 times more powerful than that first device. 

Although the latest model is unlikely to be powerful enough to replace a traditional computer as a user’s everyday PC, it’s designed to be a blank canvas for tech lovers to program their own creations.

With the Pi 4 hitting stores today, here’s everything you need to know:

What is Raspberry Pi?

Simply put, the Raspberry Pi is a “bargain micro PC” that has spawned a “boom in inventive approaches to computing”, CNet describes. 

The device is essentially a computer board with all of the fundamental components, including a processor and RAM, for creative programmers to build their own gadgets. The board is completely exposed, allowing users to create their own cases or to integrate the device into an existing piece of hardware. 

With prices for the new model starting at about £32, the Raspberry Pi is positioned as an inexpensive option that allows aspiring computer engineers - particularly in areas of poverty - to experiment with programming. 

However, the London Evening Standard reports that around 50% of the new Raspberry Pi 4 devices “are destined for industrial and commercial use”.

To ensure that the hardware is “up to the task”, every Raspberry Pi computer is compatible with a host of programming languages, the newpaper says. This includes C++, Python and Scratch, meaning “anyone can learn to become a developer”.

What’s new?

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has introduced upgrades “across the board”, including a faster processor and graphics chip, says The Verge

The new model also features a better Ethernet port for wired internet connections, dual-band Wi-Fi, two micro HDMI outputs and a pair of the latest USB 3.0 ports. 

In fact, with the ability to output video in a 4K resolution at 60fps and power two monitors at once, the Raspberry Pi 4 is “good enough to use in a pinch as a desktop PC”, says tech news site Tom’s Hardware.   

What have Raspberry Pi users created?

The open source nature - meaning anyone can tinker with it - of the hardware has resulted in all sorts of homemade devices based on Raspberry Pi architecture. 

Creations include arcade cabinets, musical instruments, robots, and wearable computers, ArsTechnica reports. 

Raspberry Pi hardware has also been used to integrate a voice activation system into a garage door, power a laptop and even beam images down to Earth from the edge of space, the tech site adds.

Where can you buy the Raspberry Pi 4?

The Raspberry Pi 4 can be ordered from OKdo, with prices starting at about £32.

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