Continued: the answers to your questions for Eben Upton
Last week, we shared the first half of our Q&A with Raspberry Pi Trading CEO and Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton. Today we follow up with all your other questions, including your expectations for a Raspberry Pi 4, Eben’s dream add-ons, and whether we really could go smaller than the Zero.
With internet security becoming more necessary, will there be automated versions of VPN on an SD card?
There are already third-party tools which turn your Raspberry Pi into a VPN endpoint. Would we do it ourselves? Like the power button, it’s one of those cases where there are a million things we could do and so it’s more efficient to let the community get on with it.
Just to give a counterexample, while we don’t generally invest in optimising for particular use cases, we did invest a bunch of money into optimising Kodi to run well on Raspberry Pi, because we found that very large numbers of people were using it. So, if we find that we get half a million people a year using a Raspberry Pi as a VPN endpoint, then we’ll probably invest money into optimising it and feature it on the website as we’ve done with Kodi. But I don’t think we’re there today.
Have you ever seen any Pis running and doing important jobs in the wild, and if so, how does it feel?
It’s amazing how often you see them driving displays, for example in radio and TV studios. Of course, it feels great. There’s something wonderful about the geographic spread as well. The Raspberry Pi desktop is quite distinctive, both in its previous incarnation with the grey background and logo, and the current one where we have Greg Annandale’s road picture.
And so it’s funny when you see it in places. Somebody sent me a video of them teaching in a classroom in rural Pakistan and in the background was Greg’s picture.
Raspberry Pi 4!?!
There will be a Raspberry Pi 4, obviously. We get asked about it a lot. I’m sticking to the guidance that I gave people that they shouldn’t expect to see a Raspberry Pi 4 this year. To some extent, the opportunity to do the 3B+ was a surprise: we were surprised that we’ve been able to get 200MHz more clock speed, triple the wireless and wired throughput, and better thermals, and still stick to the $35 price point.
We’re up against the wall from a silicon perspective; we’re at the end of what you can do with the 40nm process. It’s not that you couldn’t clock the processor faster, or put a larger processor which can execute more instructions per clock in there, it’s simply about the energy consumption and the fact that you can’t dissipate the heat. So we’ve got to go to a smaller process node and that’s an order of magnitude more challenging from an engineering perspective. There’s more effort, more risk, more cost, and all of those things are challenging.
With 3B+ out of the way, we’re going to start looking at this now. For the first six months or so we’re going to be figuring out exactly what people want from a Raspberry Pi 4. We’re listening to people’s comments about what they’d like to see in a new Raspberry Pi, and I’m hoping by early autumn we should have an idea of what we want to put in it and a strategy for how we might achieve that.
Could you go smaller than the Zero?
The challenge with Zero as that we’re periphery-limited. If you run your hand around the unit, there is no edge of that board that doesn’t have something there. So the question is: “If you want to go smaller than Zero, what feature are you willing to throw out?”
It’s a single-sided board, so you could certainly halve the PCB area if you fold the circuitry and use both sides, though you’d have to lose something. You could give up some GPIO and go back to 26 pins like the first Raspberry Pi. You could give up the camera connector, you could go to micro HDMI from mini HDMI. You could remove the SD card and just do USB boot. I’m inventing a product live on air! But really, you could get down to two thirds and lose a bunch of GPIO – it’s hard to imagine you could get to half the size.
What’s the one feature that you wish you could outfit on the Raspberry Pi that isn’t cost effective at this time? Your dream feature.
Well, more memory. There are obviously technical reasons why we don’t have more memory on there, but there are also market reasons. People ask “why doesn’t the Raspberry Pi have more memory?”, and my response is typically “go and Google ‘DRAM price'”. We’re used to the price of memory going down. And currently, we’re going through a phase where this has turned around and memory is getting more expensive again.
Machine learning would be interesting. There are machine learning accelerators which would be interesting to put on a piece of hardware. But again, they are not going to be used by everyone, so according to our method of pricing what we might add to a board, machine learning gets treated like a $50 chip. But that would be lovely to do.
Which citizen science projects using the Pi have most caught your attention?
I like the wildlife camera projects. We live out in the countryside in a little village, and we’re conscious of being surrounded by nature but we don’t see a lot of it on a day-to-day basis. So I like the nature cam projects, though, to my everlasting shame, I haven’t set one up yet. There’s a range of them, from very professional products to people taking a Raspberry Pi and a camera and putting them in a plastic box. So those are good fun.
And there’s Meteor Pi from the Cambridge Science Centre, that’s a lot of fun. And the seismometer Raspberry Shake – that sort of thing is really nice. We missed the recent South Wales earthquake; perhaps we should set one up at our Californian office.
How does it feel to go to bed every day knowing you’ve changed the world for the better in such a massive way?
What feels really good is that when we started this in 2006 nobody else was talking about it, but now we’re part of a very broad movement.
We were in a really bad way: we’d seen a collapse in the number of applicants applying to study Computer Science at Cambridge and elsewhere. In our view, this reflected a move away from seeing technology as ‘a thing you do’ to seeing it as a ‘thing that you have done to you’. It is problematic from the point of view of the economy, industry, and academia, but most importantly it damages the life prospects of individual children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The great thing about STEM subjects is that you can’t fake being good at them. There are a lot of industries where your Dad can get you a job based on who he knows and then you can kind of muddle along. But if your dad gets you a job building bridges and you suck at it, after the first or second bridge falls down, then you probably aren’t going to be building bridges anymore. So access to STEM education can be a great driver of social mobility.
By the time we were launching the Raspberry Pi in 2012, there was this wonderful movement going on. Code Club, for example, and CoderDojo came along. Lots of different ways of trying to solve the same problem. What feels really, really good is that we’ve been able to do this as part of an enormous community. And some parts of that community became part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation – we merged with Code Club, we merged with CoderDojo, and we continue to work alongside a lot of these other organisations. So in the two seconds it takes me to fall asleep after my face hits the pillow, that’s what I think about.
We’re currently advertising a Programme Manager role in New Delhi, India. Did you ever think that Raspberry Pi would be advertising a role like this when you were bringing together the Foundation?
No, I didn’t.
But if you told me we were going to be hiring somewhere, India probably would have been top of my list because there’s a massive IT industry in India. When we think about our interaction with emerging markets, India, in a lot of ways, is the poster child for how we would like it to work. There have already been some wonderful deployments of Raspberry Pi, for example in Kerala, without our direct involvement. And we think we’ve got something that’s useful for the Indian market. We have a product, we have clubs, we have teacher training. And we have a body of experience in how to teach people, so we have a physical commercial product as well as a charitable offering that we think are a good fit.
It’s going to be massive.
What is your favourite BBC type-in listing?
There was a game called Codename: Druid. There is a famous game called Codename: Droid which was the sequel to Stryker’s Run, which was an awesome, awesome game. And there was a type-in game called Codename: Druid, which was at the bottom end of what you would consider a commercial game.
And I remember typing that in. And what was really cool about it was that the next month, the guy who wrote it did another article that talks about the memory map and which operating system functions used which bits of memory. So if you weren’t going to do disc access, which bits of memory could you trample on and know the operating system would survive.
I still like type-in listings. The Raspberry Pi 2018 Annual has a type-in listing that I wrote for a Babbage versus Bugs game. I will say that’s not the last type-in listing you will see from me in the next twelve months. And if you download the PDF, you could probably copy and paste it into your favourite text editor to save yourself some time.
Raspberry Pi is awesome. As for reduced form factor, if that is desired on the Zero (or -1?), changing the GPIO pinout would cause issues with incompatibility. Perhaps a 2.0mm connector instead of 2.54mm and then reduce the number of power and ground pins. Just the GPIOs, one ground, 5V and 3.3v would come to 32 pins. That would be about 35mm long.
Just a suggestion.
Here’s my comprehensive wish-list for RPi 4:
– USB 3.0 / 3.1 / 3.2
(Yes, more RAM would be nice too.)
Since you said you were listening, here are a couple of wishes from me (and I have no idea how hard these are or how much they’d cost, so I fully appreciate they may not be practical or affordable)
(a) 5V tolerant GPIO pins (still with 3V3 logic levels, though)
(b) A low power hibernate mode, with timed wakeup, which would make it practical to run on batteries for extended periods.
FYI I believe all those are already possible on current RPis using various HATs?
The 5V tolerance can certainly be done with modest add-on circuitry, so I agree it’s not worth doing unless it can be done very cheaply. But it would often simplify the integration of other parts.
The low power mode can’t be done as an add-on, though, unless I’ve missed something. Yes, it’s possible to shut the Pi right down, and reboot it when needed, but that’s not responsive enough for the applications I have in mind where I might want, say, 1 second of activity every minute.
ram, ram, ram, ram, and ram. USB 3.x, maybe m.2?
Type-in was always the best part of any early 80’s computer magazines. There were also type-in games at the back of the Vic-20 users guide. Spent all night typing one in with my brothers and Dad, just to realize there was no long term storage on our new computer. Best wasted evening I ever had.
Keep ’em coming!
(and more ram would be good. Would there be any way to make a ram addon connector? Probably not…)
Are you talking about the old computer magazines that had the source code for the games that they had in the magazines in case you wanted to type it out and compile it yourself to play?
Exactly, although they were generally written in BASIC and interpreted rather than compiled.
I think whatever they do for the pi4 it should remain capable of running off of a 2amp cell charger. A faster processor and more ram at the cost of increased power requirements will make it less usable, not more.
The problem is that more processor power and more memory DO need more power to run. Hopefully the move to 28nm will help. We currently recommend a 2.5A power supply for the Pi3B+.
IMHO using faster and more RAM will increase the overall computing power much more than heating up the SoC with some additional MHz.
Using a RAM disc helps a lot too keep the load of all 4 cores high and let the SD card live longer.
Yes, I would like to have 16GB or more, but 2GB will be fine for me, if this reduces the recomended power supply 2A or better 1.5A ;)
You had the guys from Next Thing do that US$9 CHIP device that is similar to the Pi Zero W. Sure, they are insolvent now, but they did some things that I’d love to see in the Pi Zero W.
First off, the CHIP had onboard flash rather than the SD card. On all the Pi’s I’ve had, eventually there are hassles with the SD card. Corrupt Cards, problems with vibration, dust, moisture and so on. Having this soldered onboard? – much,much,much nicer. Nicest would be something like 2GB or 4GB soldered flash and the SD card slot if you wanted to expand storage, or you write-exhausted the onboard. The CHIP also contained a Li-ION charger with automatic battery switchover – really useful for portable small devices. I could get the CHIP to run around 9 hours on a 1,000mAH battery. What a pleasure for the charging of that to be handled automatically.
Then there are the guys from Hardkernel in Korea producing the Odroid. I’ve worked with the C1+, which is more or less at the same price point as the Pi. It’s a time colleague to the Pi2, but, for the time it had some nice advantages. 1G RAM, and a real Realtek 1GBit ethernet, which is great for things like small firewalls. But the killer is that it can take eMMC, which makes semi-decent I/O a reality. It’s a US$16 add-on for an 8GB eMMC, but Kodi on this vs without is like day and night. Man, Kodi runs almost like on an x86 Atom with a SATA drive. Well almost ;) So on the Pi, I’d prefer to see that large camera port replaced with an eMMC port.
Just my 2c worth…
Removing the camera is not an option – that gets used a LOT.
yes, the camera port is important.
two camera ports would be cool! :) for stereo and 360° movies.
That’s already possible with the Compute Modules ;-)
(but it’d probably be too much of a niche feature to add to the mainstream boards?)
Except by Eben ;-)
If he wants some further inspiration to make one, he should check out my Kingfisher photos and videos :-)
onboard nand, just change the pop chip on the pi zero.
making the msdc into diy solderpads on the back, would allow for a full hdmi connector, and removing the mini csi would make room for the micro usb and power* – then adding another 40 gpio connector pads to the other side of the pi, would allow for access to all the csi and dsi lanes!!
we already need an mini csi adapter cable for the zero, so this would not be removing csi, just changing adapter cables.
*or micro usb and avp; powering it over gpio, hdmi or usb2go.
In addition to the zero, you could have an even more limited less-than-zero.
A battery powered pi. A really low power, slow CPU like 100MHz.
I suppose the pi 4 would need to be at least powerfull enough to run a future 4k video capable camera module as well as 4k output to match (as a bonus), of course going down to a smaller process would offer room for more power for both cpu and gpu.
Usb 3 would reduce the bottle neck, and offer up usb displays. Although usb 2 has done suprisingly well with regard to the 3b+.
Moddable ram would be cool but would of course add cost due to extra connectors and development for future-proofing.
Oh and with regard to gpio, if more are added, you could add a set of pads to the underside. Maybe add analogue input too?
Speaking of making the pi zero smaller, a surface mount option with wifi would be good to add to the family ideally at the same price as the regular pi zero.
I’ll add my 2p worth on the “what would we like from a Raspberry Pi 4” (although I’m sure you’ll be doing more thorough market research nearer the time!) :
– “true” gigabit Ethernet (i.e. not on the end of USB 2)
– A decent boot option. I’m not sure what this looks like, though! Perhaps UHS microSD? Perhaps SATA? (but that seems expensive…) Perhaps eMMC? Perhaps…
– USB3. Pretty please?!
– 2/4GB of RAM
– a pop-up unicorn
I appreciate not all of these suggestions are realistically achievable… ;)
Unicorn supply is a bit flaky at the moment. Once Chinese production ramps up we should be OK.
Yes so much this(true gigabit). More ram/ faster processor are nice but so many projects that need to send HDD data over the network run into a significant bottleneck here. If this was the only change to the pi 4 I wouldn’t even be disappointed.
Suggestion for a new feature on the Raspberry Pi 4: color-coded headers. It will make setting up projects easier.
Instead of making the zerro smaller, they should allow people to be able to use more of its features!
why the 3rd dsi lane is not connected is still a mystery!
idea for an rpi zero+:
full HDMI (in place of msdc)
avp & microUSB (in place of csi)
2nd 40pin gpio with all dsi/csi lanes (in place of musb/mhdmi)
pads for DIY mSDC on backside
rpi zerro a+ version: w/headers/msdc/wifi & dram+nand PoP.
free/open firmware w/jpeg/webm/mpeg2 (patents expired)
& hdmi/usb/dsi/csi/dpi + h264enc/h264dec if possible.
ideas for rpi4/5:
faster RAM/GPIO speeds
ARM-CortexA55 (low power & no meltdown)
VC6 w/HEVC/WEBM/AV1/Vulcan HW.Accelleration.
USBC w/2USB3/HDMI2-io/SATA4/TGBE/PCIe4x2 alt.modes
DVB-C2/T2/S2/Highspeed DAC output over AVP (using mpeg4enc)
DAC/ADC Sound IO over AVP (autodetect/gpio alt.mode)
4Lane PCIe/nvme/m2 (on Model B or B+)
LVDS/FDP-Link (over gpio) for RPI-TVs
stacked HBM (full 1024bit HBM for Model B/512bit for Zero/A)
stacked ZRAM+2x3DXPoint (would be an 12-16 layer die process)
SDR on GPU? for WiFi/BT/FM/DAB/DRM/ADSL/GSM/GPS/LTE/HP/etc..
Build in 120-160Mhz wide SDR (2fixed 0+2400MHz & 2tuneable)
Support for running Android/Apps (opt. on top of raspian)
Dream RPI: (2-2.5GHz)
Zero/A:2Core+2USBC+64gpio* 2+8gb HHBM 2+2SDR
ModelB:4Core+4USBC(2USBC+4USB3)+2x64gpio* 4+16gb FHBM 2+4SDR
*dpi+led+avp or lvds+led+avp or hdmi2+tgbe (ModelB)
sdio or spi/sata4 + 4lane dsi+csi or pcie/nvme/m2 (ModelB+)
microUSB:2nd usb2 from USBC#1
gpioUSB:2nd usb2 from USBC#2
(2USB2 per USBC is nessesary for 2USB3 alt.mode)
I think you are looking for a laptop or desktop PC.
Note the rpi4/5 (as in a future version)
2012-15: 40nm => 1-4core+gpu+1usb2 (really old tech)
2019-20: 20nm => 4x (most foundries are using 14nm today)
2023-25: 10nm => 8x (intel launching 10nm in 2019)
so its not an impossibe dream..
W. H. Heydt
Ummm… I believe the next node that is being looked at is 28nm, not 20nm.
I would see it as more like:
And that may be way too optimistic.
(Mind you, at the far end of that, I’d be over 100 years old, so I’m more interested in major breakthroughs in gerontology than I am in spectacular dies shrinks for Pi SoCs.)
IBM created the PC market with the PC, PC-XT and PC-AT. Other companies entered the market with similar machines. Those PC clones had software support issues. Simultaneously Microsoft improved support while hardware standards emerged. Upon seeing that other companies selling larger and larger numbers of IBM-compatible machines, IBM tried to take back market share by creating an incompatible PC based on a proprietary system bus called Micro Channel. The PC clones were suddenly more IBM-compatible than the new computers IBM was selling. Consequently the clones sold even better than before.
The moral of the story is two-fold: First, expect that upstream Linux will eventually run well on competitor’s hardware. Second, don’t break compatibility with an existing product line and expect to regain market share.
Thanks for creating the Pi market with the Raspberry Pi, Pi 2B, Pi 3B and Zero computers. The support offered by the Raspberry Pi Foundation as well as its educational mission is valued and unique. At this point I suspect most engineering decisions have already been made for the Pi 4. When it comes to market, please make sure the software is still compatible across the product line and as well supported as it is today.
Mark S. Abeln
The bottlenecks on my Pis are not RAM or CPU, but IO.
Two USB 3 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, dual-band AC WiFi: I’d be willing to accept two cores at 1 GHz in order to keep the same price point.
Since the Pi is reaching clock speeds used on Windows 10 Laptops, we’re probably reaching a sweet spot for speed. More instructions per clock would be useful, if it doesn’t break “backward compatibility”. So thinking of realistic new hardware features for the Pi 4 is challenging. That said…
USB 3 support, perhaps. At some point we will want to see a USB C port to power the PI as USB C power supplies/chargers become common. Obviously more memory if the prices for DRAM come back down – as I recall 2 GB is a sweet spot for 32 bit Linux. Maybe some way to easily connect an SSD would handy, with the ability to run the OS from there and then you have a decent amount of fast storage for media – no idea about powering it, though.
But really, having plenty of GPIO and using PI Hats is a great way to add new features without loading down each board with stuff most people aren’t going to use. I basically think the PI 4 should stick to the 35 dollar target.
Regarding a smaller PI Zero – I wouldn’t.
Just one thing for the version 4: keep the same form factor, and keep the 5V power !
From a hardware then more RAM would be the single most useful thing. It’s frustrating that the prices are not coming down, but hopefully by Pi 4 it should be possible to add more.
More importantly from a software point of view, and particularly from the educational side Scratch 3 offline mode with GPIO should be number 1 priority. As it’s going to move back to open standards (away from proprietary Scratch) then I expect this will be easier than it was with Scratch 2. I’m guessing there may be someone working on this already, but it would be nice to hear more about that.
Scratch has always been an important part of the Pi education ecosystem, and Scratch 3 should be no exception! Moving away from Flash should also make it a much better experience than Scratch 2.
You can try Scratch3 on the MIT website, but to get it to work properly on the Pi you will need the KMS 3D driver. Use the command line raspi-config to enable the driver (advanced options, Full KMS)
For Christmas I would like the next version of Pi to have:
2x USB2 so network does not share bandwidth with USB storage.
USB Gadget support on the power connector.
On-board flash or second SD card slot.
eDP for direct connection to an LCD panel.
I promise to be nice.
The biggest challenge I see is increased power consumption. I am excited by the increased Ethernet throughput for using the Pi 3B+ as a home file server, but that speed comes with increased power consumption for a device that is running 24/7/365. It also makes it potentially more challenging for use in battery powered devices. It would be nice if there was a way to throttle everything down to optimize for battery usage, though I’m sure at least some of that is currently possible with a little hackery (things like turning off HDMI, etc). The Zero/Zero W does a great job of filling the low-power need, but availability makes it a little more challenging to acquire, at least at a price anywhere near what is advertised, if you want more than one. The A+ is of course an option, but they are harder to find, presumably because most everyone would prefer the Zero. An A+ wireless version would nice as well. Perhaps a 3A with wireless, which I think was once even noted as being in the works at one point? But then you run into the power consumption issue, unless there is a way to throttle it or reduce it to a single core or something like that.
No doubt it is challenging to determine the best route to take, especially with a million people, each wanting something different! Thanks for what you have done and continue to do! I’m always curious to see what is next, and it’s always a surprise.
W. H. Heydt
Talk about opening a can of worms by inviting suggestions–and particularly suggestions for the Pi4B….
The ONE thing I would like to see in a Pi4B is faster I/O, which would almost have to be USB 3.
I’ve been saying for some time that I have no issues with a 1.2GHz clock and 1GB RAM. At 1.4GHz–on the assumption that a Pi4B will *not* be slower than a Pi3B+ –I will be a very happy camper.
More RAM and native GbE are “nice to have” items, but not, I think, essential. Though in this area I would suggest that the SoC for the Pi4B be *capable* of having more RAM, even if it isn’t fitted (Pi4Bv2? Pi4B+?) initially.
There are also other potential products in the woodpile… An upgraded Pi2B would be nice. One that uses the B0 stepping of the ‘2837, with the improved thermal management and a faster clock than the Pi2Bv1.2, say something in the 1.1GHz range. This might be a way to get B0 chips that don’t quite meet the spec for a Pi3B+ and–therefore–improve effective yield.
The A+ is getting pretty long in the tooth. There were…suggestions, to put it charitably…that there was going to be a Pi2A. There were statements at the time of the Pi3A launch that there would be a Pi3A. There are now hints that a Pi3A+ might happen. Please..”third time’s the charm”. Let’s see jump in the A-series capability.
Also going down the “nice to have” rabbit hole would be CM3+ and CM3L+. (And, of course, eventually CM4/CM4L.)
Last but not least…this sort of article is what I love to see. I know you’re all very busy, but even a little bit of this sort of thing goes a long way and and is very much appreciated.
best suggestion ever: pibasic on soc bootrom =)
I seem to get the same video whether or not I click ‘eben-q-a-1’ or ‘eben-q-a-2’ ? Or do they have the same start ?
Regarding a Pi 4, I think it very much depends on what the aims are for the “top end” Pi in the future. Obviously it’s all about education but does that mean that the Pi should be the most powerful $35 computer it can be or does it mean that the Pi should offer features that encourage experimentation beyond that which a standard PC can offer?
If it’s the former, then obviously things like higher processor speed, USB 3 etc. are the way to go.
But, if it’s the latter, then I think there are some things that you could add that would be fun and could be put to good use in the classroom and at home. For example, a small on-board LCD display, an LED matrix, a H-bridge driver… things like that. And maybe an ability to connect the Pi to a USB port of a standard Windows/Mac and drop Python or block-based files on it and have them run, similar to the micro:bit.
I know that that’s not really the way the Pi is heading (and that that type of functionality is usually provided by add-on HATs) but it would, I think, be genuinely novel and more exciting than just providing a new iteration of a cheap-but-powerful PC.
It could still be both..
Model B for the fastest experience
Model A/Zero H/WH for the make experience (with hats)
Model Zero/CM or Zero/Zero W for DIY
I would not mind a Model D (desktop/deluxe) with m2/nvme.
so an idea could be:
half soc / zerro+ form factor
4Z 2core 512mb
4A 2core 512mb-1gb 4Z+sata+wifi-ac (sata/csi on backside?)
full soc / std. form factor
4B 4core 1gb 4A+4usb+gbe/poe?
4D 4core 1gb-2gb 4B+pcie/nvme (m2/nvme connector on backside)
H-bridges comes in different sizes depending on the motors used and are therefore better as removeable modules.
as for onboard LCD, unless the Pi4 comes with build in SDR/LTE
and someone desides to make 100m pi phones, avabillity and cost will be an issue.
is you ever taken apart a cheap nokia phone, is basically a zerro with buttonpads & lcd on the back.. (w/gsm and wo/gpu)
I think making the SD card optional would be best. The Tinkerboard S comes with 16 GB of eMMC onboard.
For something smaller than Zero (bubble gum size), it has to be niche product. Let’s say Coin sized. Do you really need camera/GPIO on there? No. If it’s USB boot, can it be powered by USB also? I’m undecided about I2C. But that’s only 5 holes or so.
I’m thinking that only the MicroSD card is necessary. The HDMI / USB/ Power can be left as holes so that people can customize the shape better.
Possible usage maybe clothing, jewelry, watches, ecard, or micro cubic computer. You certainly don’t need cameras, memory, or CPU speed for that kind of project. WiFi is always appreciated with the minimalist form factor, though, so you can run it headless.
Hmm, there are a lot of things hardware-wise that would be nice to have, but many would push the price up considerably and kind of break from the whole point of the pi project. Only thing I can think of that wouldn’t increase the price much might be a higher bandwidth connection to the SD card.
But, there is one area where there is some room for improvement. It is related to hardware, but isn’t about getting more powerful hardware or adding hardware. It is how open the firmware and drivers are. May not be possible to make them more open, but at least the choices made for the pi 4 shouldn’t make things less open.
Oh, and stick to cores that can’t do speculative execution (there could yet be other spectre variants to be found). It is actually pretty nice that the pi can’t do speculative execution (out of order stops at conditional jump). The pis are one of the few very common desktop usable computers that don’t have to worry about spectre and meltdown, or any future variant thereof, at all. I think it would be good to stay that way.
If you want to reduce the size of the Pi Zero, is there any reason you can’t mount the connectors on the other side of the board?
What do you think about adding a FPGA to the Pi?
I’m currently “using” a Zybo FPGA, and it strikes me, how powerful it can be and how it increases my horizon on how computers work. On the Zybo, nearly all IO needs to be controlled by the FPGA. But on the Pi 4, you can make the FPGA-part between the GPIO’s and the memory bus/rest of the system.
I know, that there are FPGA HATs, but they don’t have a high-speed interface to the Pi. With an integrated FPGA, you could do things like:
– Every GPIO you have today
– Supporting protocols like
* SPI slave
* Quad SPI master/slave
* Every timing-critical multi-clock protocol
– Some bit-fiddling things, which are expensive on ARM, but cheap in FPGA, e.g. bitstream-decoding of video codices.
It doesn’t have to be a fancy one, but a small one may be used to teach children (or more likely students) digital logic without the requirement to solder 1000 transistors.
Unfortunately not cost effective, as you would be adding it for every buyer, when only a small percentage of buyers actually want it, but they are ALL paying for it.
I think FPGA would be good for education, but it would have to have at least 8k gates so that you could implement a computer in it.
My playlist on YouTube about FPGA: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUx1NFKWh2OE0f0kiyT9axuVw_xbGm8By
Looking at the performance, I’ll list things in order:
1. The storage speed is the biggest bottleneck. Even when 1GB of RAM is enough, we really need higher local storage read/write speeds.
2. Obviously, 2GB of RAM would be a welcome improvement, if not more. And if it’s DDR3, even better.
3. Good 2D and 3D video acceleration by default.
Other hopes and dreams…
… on the hardware side:
1. A power switch. Hopefully this cost can be absorbed in the future, because it beats playing with the power plug, or buying cables with switches on them.
2. A SATA storage controller with a mSATA or M.2 connector.
3. Wired and wireless networks separated from USB.
4. USB 3.x
… on the software side:
1. Browser plugins for video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO GO, etc. This is surely not the direct responsibility of the RPF, but reaching out to each streaming service might help. A lot of people can use the Raspberry Pi for such things, so it would be a great addition.
2. A community hub for “Pi recipes”, with Raspbian customizations separated by categories that people can create, contribute to, and discover through a client in both the regular and lite Raspbian editions. There are a lot of great projects that are scattered across the internet, and they depend on the availability of some web-hosting and its creator(s). In the community hub, a customization script for Raspbian can remain online for a very long time and it can be improved by contributors, even if the creators are not longer interested. And a few simple guidelines can also help the creators to come up with higher quality scripts in the first place. What kind of scripts? A MagicMirror, PiHole, a signage solution, an information kiosk, a LAMP/LEMP server and/or development environment, and lots more.
3. Administration interfaces for basic service management. Say you want to install and manage a home DNS and DHCP server. A very simple GUI for dnsmasq would help a lot. And if the community wants more, they can use this base to create a more advanced one, and put it in the “Pi recipes”. The same goes for a web and database server, with on/off buttons, working directory and port. Think extremely simple here, like the basic tools published on the AnalogX website. (Wow, I can’t believe that site still lives.) Does anyone remember these?
Why such simple interfaces? Because it enables a lot of people to do more advanced things on their own. And if/when they want more, they can go deep(er) by asking the community. But at least they have a stepping stone for the basic functionality.
I think, Raspbery Pi zero could have HDMI micro instead mini. On standard Rarpbery Pi some slots should removable, some kinds of clips, snaps, quick release, for USB, LAN, etc… ports.
My wishlist for Raspberry 4:
1. Built-in AD converter (a few channels would be nice). I love working with Atmel MCUs for them having several AD converters that come in handy often. Having this combined with the power of an ARM would be awsome! Same holds true for next wish:
2. True hardware PWM – several channels would be great.
3. Seperation between network and USB – had some issues with this combined stuff. From my point of view, USB 2 and 100 MBit is sufficient – never wanted it faster yet. Only use case I could think of from the top of my head: Internet gateway – having true GBit and USB 3 with a GBit dongle would open up this path.
4. HVEC/h.265 hardware decoding – media center has always been one of the use cases for the Raspberry, and with DVB-T2 now using HEVC a limit is reached with the current GPU.
5. I could do with more GPIO! I’ve had two projects now where I needed to multiplex or work with I²C extenders. That works fine, but adds complexity.
Love the Raspberry and the ideas behind it! Keep up the excellent work!!!
I think it’s an advantage in a school context that the Raspberry Pi doesn’t have flash or eMMC built-in, but on a removable card (microSD now). Each student can have their own card, and it’s easier to update all cards. If there is information left from the previous user on the computer, that could interfere with the current lesson.
My NAS could definitely benefit from USB 3.0!!!
I’m sure you know that multimedia industry consumers most of RPI produced. In my company we bought thousands since RPI1. That is why HEVC and strong GPU with decent support will guarantee next 5 years of good sales.
What I’d like to see in Raspberry Pi 4:
– USB 3
– AV1 hardware support
– USB-C charge
Faster and USB-c optimized