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Quad -A72 Raspberry Pi 4 finally gets its RAM

Jun 24, 2019 — by Eric Brown 4,230 views

The Raspberry Pi 4 has launched with a 1.5GHz quad-core, Cortex-A72 Broadcom SoC, up to 4GB RAM, native GbE, USB 3.0 and Type-C ports, and a second micro-HDMI for dual 4K displays.

Eben Upton announced the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B as a “surprise,” which is generally true of any new Pi launch, but in even more so here. in February, the RPi Trading CEO hinted that the next Pi would not arrive until 2020. But here it is, checking off multiple wishlist items, including the biggest one: more RAM. Although you can buy a 1GB version for the same $35 price, there’s also a 2GB version for $45 and a 4GB model for $55, all with speedier LPDDR4 RAM.

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B and new case
(click images to enlarge)

The Raspberry Pi 4 is equipped with a new Broadcom BCM2711 SoC with 4x Cortex-A72 cores clocked to 1.5GHz. It’s built with a 28nm process instead of the usual 40nm process found on the 1.4GHz, quad-core, Cortex-A53 Broadcom BCM2837B0 that powers the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.

The result is a 2x to 4x performance increase “depending on the benchmark.” The new VideoCore VI 3D GPU has been improved with upgrades to “the entire display pipeline, including video decode, 3D graphics and display output to support 4Kp60 (or dual 4Kp30),” writes Upton.


The bad news that the full-size HDMI port has shrunk to a micro-HDMI is more than compensated for the fact that there are now two of them for simultaneous dual 4K displays. You can use your existing cables with the help of $5 adapters. You can also presumably do dual displays with one of the HDMI ports and the pre-existing, HD-ready MIPI-DSI or Composite video interfaces.

Raspberry Pi 4 detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B adds a native PCIe Gen2 based Gigabit Ethernet port for 1000Mbps performance compared to a high of 300Mbps on the Model 3B+’s USB 2.0-driven GbE port. The dual-band 802.11ac WiFi is the same as introduced on the 3B+, but Bluetooth has improved to version 5.0.

Two of the four USB host ports use the faster USB 3.0 spec (finally!), and the micro-USB power port has been replaced with a more versatile USB Type-C port. The Type-C port “supports an extra 500mA of current, ensuring we have a full 1.2A for downstream USB devices, even under heavy CPU load,” writes Upton. You can re-use your old power supply with a $1 adapter or buy a new $8 5V/3A supply with Type-C support.

Raspberry Pi 4
(click images to enlarge)

Returning features include the 40-pin GPIO header, the microSD slot, the MIPI-CSI camera connector, and audio jack, which are all located in the familiar places. Yet, if you recently bought a case for your Raspberry Pi thinking that you could upgrade to a new Pi in the future, think again. The Pi 4 switches the position of the GbE port, and the new micro-HDMI and Type-C ports also require changes.

In addition, the four USB ports and GbE port have been extended by a millimeter to hang over the edge for easier case design. There are instructions for how to modify an existing case or you can purchase new, two-part case for only $5.

The PoE connector remains in place so you can use the existing Raspberry Pi PoE HAT. Other HATs and accessories should work fine.

A $120 Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop Kit is available that gives you a 4GB Pi 4 with the official new case, power supply and existing mouse and keyboard combo. It also provides two micro-HDMI cables and a 32GB microSD card pre-installed with a major new Raspbian Buster distribution.

RPi 4 port view and Raspbian Buster
(click images to enlarge)

The new Raspbian Buster, which is based on Debian 10 Buster, will be further detailed tomorrow. It offers an improved UI, the Chromium 74 web browser, and a new graphics driver stack based on the Mesa V3D driver developed by Eric Anholt at Broadcom. Mesa V3D gives Raspbian “OpenGL-accelerated web browsing and desktop composition, and the ability to run 3D applications in a window under X,” writes Upton. “It also eliminates roughly half of the lines of closed-source code in the platform.”

The following specifications are listed for the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B:

  • Processor — Broadcom BCM2711 (4x Cortex-A72 cores @ 1.5GHz; Videocore VI 3D GPU with H.265 (4Kp60 decode), H.264 (1080p60 decode, 1080p30 encode), OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics
  • Memory — 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB LPDDR4-2400 RAM
  • Storage — microSD slot
  • Networking:
    • 10/100/1000 Ethernet port with PoE support
    • 802.11b/g/n/ac dual-band WiFi
    • Bluetooth 5.0 with BLE
  • Media I/O:
    • 2x micro HDMI ports, each at 4K@60 or both at 4K@30
    • 3.5mm 4-pole composite video and audio output jack
    • 2-lane MIPI-DSI display output
    • 2-lane MIPI-CSI camera input
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.0 ports
    • 2x USB 2.0 ports
    • USB Type-C port with power support
  • Expansion — standard RPi 40-pin GPIO
  • Other features — support through Jan. 2026
  • Power — 5VDC (min. 3A) input via USB Type-C or GPIO header; optional 15W Type C supply (also supports earlier supply)
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 50°C
  • Dimensions — 87 x 56mm
  • Operating systems — Raspbian Buster; also supports various Arm Linux distributions; Windows 10 IoT

The increased performance places the Raspberry Pi 4 near the top compared to the other 125 contenders in our recent Linux hacker board roundup. This is all the more remarkable considering that in the earlier ARM11-based years the Pi was one of the slower community-backed SBCs around. We are interested in seeing this benchmarked against a board with a Rockchip RK3399, which has two -A72 cores and four -A53.

The speed boost, along with dual 4K displays, true GbE, and USB 3.0 and Type-C
makes the Raspberry Pi 4 a much more competent desktop replacement. Although there’s still no M.2 slot with SATA support, the much faster USB 3.0 ports make external storage more feasible. The new processor and updated features also extend the embedded possibilities. Applications are said to include “robot brains, smart home hub, media centre, networked AI core, factory controller, and much more.”

All the other Raspberry Pi products, including the most recent Raspberry Pi Model A+, will continue to sell at their existing prices. Upton suggests that an RPi 4-like, Broadcom BCM2711 based Raspberry Pi Compute Module is on the way, but he’s less certain about updating the Model A+.

Further information

The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is available now for $35 (1GB RAM), $45 (2GB), or $55 (4GB). There’s also a $120 Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop Kit. More information may be found in the Raspberry Pi 4 blog announcement and product/shopping page with links to schematics and mechanical drawings.

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2 responses to “Quad -A72 Raspberry Pi 4 finally gets its RAM”

  1. Tim Snider says:

    You mention that the 2711 SOC has 4 x A72 cores.. but in the specifications section you say they’ve got A57s ?

  2. Jeff Child says:

    This has been fixed.
    Thanks Tim!

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