We never saw this coming, and not just because current-gen Raspberry Pi models are so great and inexpensive. The Raspberry Pi Foundation very clearly suggested no full-fledged sequel was in the cards by 2017. At best, we expected another couple of incremental upgrades, and perhaps an improved entry-level board.
But lo and behold, the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B broke cover out of nowhere earlier today, and can be already purchased via element14 or RS Components. And the single-board sequel is still just $35.
That’s exactly as much as the first-generation B and B+, which was no easy production feat given the new PC is injected with six times more power. Obviously, the number can be deceiving, and real-life speed will vary depending on what you’ll use the Pi 2 for.
Nonetheless, the performance advances are substantial, thanks to a quad-core Broadcom BCM2836 CPU clocked at 900MHz, and a full gig of RAM. That’s up from a single 700MHz core in the old processor, and a humble 512MB RAM.
The third and possibly most exciting upgrade? Windows 10 will be supported on the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, and Microsoft doesn’t intend to charge a thing for the privilege. In Redmond’s words, Windows 10 “will be free for the Maker community through the Windows Developer Program for IoT later this year.” Yes, that means you need to sign up for the developer program to receive a copy.
Clearly, certain hardware limitations could come into play, as “full” Windows has never been kind to ARM chips, and RT-powered Surfaces have a special, trimmed-down update on the way. But even a diluted iteration of Win 10 is a welcomed Linux alternative and proves Microsoft’s commitment to alternative devices.
A carbon copy of the Pi 1 Model B+ from a form factor standpoint, the Pi 2 halts the tweaks there, keeping all the USB ports, HDMI connectivity, microSD support in place. DIY enthusiasts, it’s time to upgrade. Speaking of upgrades, there are “no plans to introduce a Raspberry Pi 2 Model A before the end of 2015,” so the A+ remains your top dirt-cheap choice. Unless the Foundation surprises us again.