It has been a year since the Raspberry Pi foundation released the Raspberry Pi 4. In that time, the upgraded hardware configurations have allowed the platform to expand into even more project and computing environments. But, with increased ideas comes increased resource demand. To respond to that new demand, a new configuration was released that has 8GB of RAM. Previously, the largest configuration available was 4GB of RAM.
This new hardware will give makers and engineers more memory capabilities, allowing for larger implementations. However, it is important to note just how difficult it is to fill 4GB on a Raspberry Pi 4. Running the official operating system, Avram opened dozens of browser tabs, some of which were playing 4K videos. He also had the photo editor Gimp open. With all of that happening, he was only able to fill 4.6GB of RAM, and that is unusual usage.
There will be uses where the increased RAM will be a big benefit. If you wanted to use the device for a large amount of on-device AI processing, especially of image and video content, you would need the addition RAM to keep the streamed image and video data available. You could also use the device as a media server, and if any encoding is needed, the added resources will help.
With the increase of RAM comes another substantial change: the operating system. For years, the official Raspberry Pi operating system has been Raspbian. However, that OS is developed and maintained by an outside organization and only supports 32-bit processing. To fully take advantage of more than 4GB of RAM, you need to be running a 64-bit OS. As such, Raspbian cannot be the answer for the new device. A 64-bit OS has been developed and released, but it means that it is not a Raspbian build. To respect the intellectual property and naming rights of the other organization, the official builds offered by the Raspberry Pi Foundation will officially be called Raspberry Pi OS going forward. This will be the case for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLuGHiTz Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the DDR community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bar Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and judging engineering notebooks at competitions. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.