A few weeks ago, the RaspberryPi foundation surprised most of us
with a new version of the RaspberryPi (creatively named the RaspberryPi 2). So I ordered one from Cjemicros
(they have them in stock!) and here are some observations for you on the new device...
The new machine is pretty much the same size as the old model (so you can use all the old cables and just plug it in place of the original box). The headline change was the upgrade in memory (now 1gig) and a much more powerful CPU (it is 20% faster and has 4 cores in place of the original single core). The machine also has 4 usb ports (up from 2) and uses the microSD card. I have the original RaspberryPi where the old SD card would stick out and actually managed to break a couple of those cards moving the box. In the new model, the Micro SD card sits snugly and safely inside the box..
The big reason for upgrading the Pi was that I wanted to run Raspbian (the official Pi version of Linux) as a GUI on the box. On the original machine, it struggles and Epiphany (the new web browser) is painful. I would not recommend it for general usage and I got fed up with the CPU meter being more of less stuck on 100% usage. Raspbian is able to use all four cores and it is really usable on the new device. Firing up Epiphany showed a usage of 10%.... If you want a cheap, simple machine to run Linux on, the new RaspberryPi is a really nice device..
RISC OS is not able to make use of the additional cores but it does benefit from the faster CPU (and more memory is always useful). Having 4 USB ports is also really nice. I use a USB key for backups and file transfer so the old machine needed a hub as the 2 ports would be used by keyboard and mouse. Some speed tests have shown that some things are actually slower on the new machine (see figures on ROOL forum
by Chris Gransden). Speed was never really an issue for RISC OS on the old machine. In practise, both are pretty usable RISC OS devices.
ROOL was in on the secret development so the latest version of RISC OS runs on the new RaspberryPi. It actually uses a slightly different ARM chip and has some minor hardware changes so some tweaks were needed. The software installer (NOOBS) which allows you to install different operating systems does not yet have this latest version of RISC OS so you will need to install RISC OS directly or await the update..
In conclusion, if you want to run Raspbian as a desktop Operating system, upgrade now. If you would like a generally faster RISC OS device and some free USB ports, it is also worth the upgrade. I will probably keep my original Pi for RISC OS and use the Version 2 Pi for running other Operating Systems. Now I just need a switch box.....
What are your experiences with the new machine or will you be upgrading?