What Is Raspberry Pi with Its Features, Uses Cases?


Its name is a bit strange but Raspberry Pi is the common name of series of single-board computers. The creator of the Raspberry Pi has the same name as the board where it is the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The first version of the Raspberry Pi launched in 2012 with a configuration of 700 MHz CPU, 256 MB RAM. During time 4 more main configuration is released and named with numbers like Raspberry Pi 2, Raspberry Pi 3, Raspberry Pi 4, and the low-cost version Raspberry Pi Zero. Raspberry Pi mainly designed to be cheap affordable SOC (single-board computer) which is priced around 25$ – 35$ for different versions.

Raspberry Pi Project Objectives

Raspberry Pi project is launched by a foundation which has some objectives in creating the Raspberry Pi SOC.

  • Cheap: Raspberry Pi is designed to be cheap because everyone should easily afford it to use. Also being cheap makes it be used to build in different projects and products without cost restrictions. Making Raspberry Pi cheap also make it available around the world for different countries and poor communities.
  • Featureful: Raspberry Pi is designed to be featureful because it needs to be used in different projects with different features. Raspberry Pi should be used from weather applications to the projecting applications with its I/O pins and HDMI output. It should also connect different USB devices for expansion.
  • Easy To Obtain: As the price of the Raspberry Pi is low the shipment cost also should be low. Around the world, different sellers sell it without or very low shipment costs.
  • Easy To Use and Program: IoT or SOC devices were hard to program and use in the past but Raspberry Pi uses generic operating systems like Debian, Ubuntu, Windows variants where most of the tools and applications can be used easily.
  • Boost IOT Development: IoT is a feature of IT where every object in our world should be connected to the common and most popular network internet. Raspberry Pi can connect and provide powerful features to different devices like the door, window, refrigerator, car, etc.
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Raspberry Pi Models and Versions

Raspberry Pi became so popular so its new versions are released regularly. REcently Raspberry Pi 4 released in June 2019. For each released, there are A and B models where A is designed to be a bit cheaper and B Model is designed to be more features.

  • Raspberry Pi 1 Model B is released in 2012 and priced at 35$.
  • Raspberry Pi 1 Model A is released in 2013 and priced as 25$
  • Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+ is released in 2014 and priced at 35$
  • Raspberry Pi 1 Model A+ is released in 2014 and priced at 20$
  • Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+ is released in 2014 and priced at 35$
  • Raspberry Pi 2 Model B is released in 2015 and priced at 35$
  • Raspberry Pi Zero is released in 2015 and priced at 35$
  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B is released in 2016 and priced at 35$
  • Raspberry Pi Zero W is released in 2017 and priced at 35$
  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is released in 2018 and priced at 35$
  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ is released in 2019 and priced at 25$
  • Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is released in 2019 and priced at 35$

Raspberry Pi Hardware Specs

Well, we have learned that there are a lot of different Raspberry Pi versions and models released in years with different specifications. In this part, we will look at Raspberry Pi 4 Model B hardware and feature specification as an example.

  • 1.5 GHz ARMv8 64 Bit CPU
  • 1GB or 2GB or 4GB LPDDR4 RAM which depends on the model
  • 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 802.11ac Wireless Interface
  • 1 Gb Ethernet Interface
  • 2x USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • 40 Pin GPIO
  • 2x micro-HDMI with 4K and 60 fps support
  • H.265 and H.264 hardware support
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Raspberry Pi Use Cases

Raspberry Pi is designed to be generic SOC which can be used in different use cases for different purposes. Here we will list the most popular and interesting of them.

  • NAS (Network Attached Storage)
  • Smartphone by adding some basic screen
  • Multimedia theater with Kodi or similar software
  • Weather Station
  • Gaming Console
  • Tea cooker
  • Tor Client
  • Router and Switch
  • Cat Feeder
  • Pi in The Sky in the space

Raspberry Pi Operating System and Software

Raspberry Pi is very flexible for choice for Operating System and Software. As official Raspbian or Debian for Raspberry Pi is used and provided. But there are different Linux flavors, Windows and Real-Time Operating systems that support Raspberry Pi. These operating systems and software can be downloaded from the following link.

Raspberry Pi Software
Raspberry Pi Software
  • Raspberry Pi Debian (Raspbian) is officially supported by the Raspberry Pi foundation and provides Debian Linux distribution and its features.
  • Ubuntu Mate is provided with Ubuntu Distributions with simple and fast Mate Desktop.
  • Ubuntu Core is Ubuntu IoT version.
  • Ubuntu Server is a specially designed Server version of the Ubuntu for the ARM architecture
  • Windows 10 IoT is the Windows taste of ARM systems.
  • OSMC or Open Source Media Center is a Multimedia Distributions for TV’s.
  • LibreELEC or Kodi for multimedia box.
  • PiNet is a classroom management system.
  • RISC OS non-Linux distribution for Real-Time application usage.
  • Weather Station is a weather appliance

Programming Raspberry Pi

As Raspberry Pi can run Linux and Windows operating systems it supports most of the programming languages, libraries, SDKs. So we can use programming languages like Python, Java, C/C++, PHP in Raspberry Pi devices. The biggest issue is as Raspberry Pi is ARM CPU architecture which is different from popular X86 and x86_64 architectures some libraries may not be ported into the ARM. But most of them can be used without problems.

Raspberry Pi Advantages

Raspberry Pi is very popular because of its advantages over other systems or IoT devices. We will list them here.

  • Price of the Raspberry Pi is very affordable which makes it the number 1 choice for the product and software developers.
  • Size of the RaspberyPi is very convenient for different use cases especially in area restricted projects
  • Power of the Raspberry Pi is very good according to its competitors
  • Community of the Raspberry Pi is very diverse and helpful which is boosting the usage and development of the software
  • Features of the Raspberry Pi like HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet makes it useful for a diverse range of projects
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Raspberry Pi Disadvantages

Well I wish do not tell you disadvantages of the Raspberry Pi but there are some which are a trade-off.

  • Limited resources according to Atom and other rugged boards
  • General Use makes it improper for embedded and rugged projects which requires some resistance to the outer effects like hot, cold, etc.

Raspberry Pi 4 vs Raspberry Pi 3B+

Raspberry Pi 3B+ is updated version of the Raspberry Pi 3. Even they are the same generation Raspberry the B+ version has different advantages over the Raspberry Pi 3.

Price: Raspberry Pi 3B+ is cheaper than the Raspberry Pi 4 with a little performance loss. So f you need a bunch or bulk of Raspberry Pi devices price will be the most important factor where the Raspberry Pi 3B+ will be a better option according to the price.

Speed: Raspberry Pi 4 comes with a CPU which is 1.5 GHz but the Raspberry Pi 3B+ has a 1.4 GHz clock speed. They provide very similar CPU performance.

Memory: Raspberry Pi is provided different memory configurations for different models where start from 1GB to 4GB. Raspberry Pi 3B+ is a way behind where it only provides 1GB memory.

General Performance: In general performance and benchmarks Raspberry Pi 4 is a lot better and provides 2x performance according to the Raspberry Pi 3B+.

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