Recently, the RaspberryPi foundation surprised most of us with a new version of the RaspberryPi (creatively named the RaspberryPi 2). So I ordered one from a UK distrbutor (Cjemicros) to see what the new machine was like.
The new machine is pretty much the same price and physical size as the old model (so you can use all your original cables and just plug it in). The price is the same as the old model but the spec is much enhanced (an old nightmare to PC and Mac users when buying a new machine but at 35 US dollars you can probably forgive them if you had just purchased the old model).
The old model is still available for companies deploying the Pi (who do not want to have to change and retest their systems), but for everyone the new model is the obvious choice as much enhanced for the same price.
The headline changes are:-
- uses newer ARM chip architecture
- upgrade in memory (now 1gig)
- much more powerful CPU (it is 20% faster and has 4 cores in place of the original single core)
- 4 usb ports (up from 2)
As with the last revamp of the original Pi, the new machine uses a 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 between locations. So the Micro SD card sitting snugly and safely inside the box is also a major win for me.
I used my original PI for running Rapsbian, RISC OS and for embedded software. I also used it for deploying Java applications from NetBeans IDE (see how to Remotely deploy projects to the Raspberry Pi using NetBeans IDE on running Java from NetBeans).
My main 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 did not recommend the original PI for general usage with Raspbia – I would personally get very frustrated with the CPU meter being more of less stuck on 100% usage.
Raspbian is now able to use four, faster 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.
The PI continues to make a great device for experimenting with Operating Systems. All the releases have been updated to allow for the change in ARM chip architecture and can make use of the new features. RISCOS does not support multiple cores but benefits from the faster chip (and being specifically written for the ARM2 architecture was never slow on the original Pi). There is also talk of Microsoft making a version of Windows available for it (which you may or may not see as an advantage).
I also downloaded NetBeans IDE (the full package not something customised and optimised for the Pi) to see if it would run and very impressed to see it in action. Side by side with my high spec 2014 MacBookPro it was obviously slower in action but still usable. If you factored in cost blew the Mac away. We are currently looking at using an array of these devices to run our Continuous Integration tests on…..
In the past few years, Oracle have used the Pi to build some really interesting concept ideas for the JavaOne keynote (like the DukePad). So it will be interesting to see what Richard Bair and Jasper Potts show this year. I also hope that Oracle sees the PI as a core platform to support.
At IDRsolutions, we have been working for the last 18 months on our commercial and Open Source JavaFX PDF viewers. So we are really pleased to see powerful, Java-enabled devices like this appearing so that Java can be a mainstream option on the IoT.
Many people regarded the original Pi as a bit of toy. The new machine is fast and if you need just a machine to plug into a monitor for email, documents and web browsing it is a very attractive proposition with lots of software. The monitor manufacturers could easily bundle the Pi into their devices and cause serious damage to sales of low end PCs. At the purchase price, the new machine is very much a no brainer.
What are your experiences with the new machine or will you be upgrading?
IDRsolutions develop a Java PDF library, a PDF forms to HTML5 converter, a PDF to HTML5 or SVG converter and a Java Image Library that doubles as an ImageIO replacement. On the blog our team post about anything interesting they learn about.