Raspberry Pi 3 – The evolution goes on

Meccanismo Complesso - The Pi-volution Raspberry 3 eng

Raspberry Pi 3 – The evolution goes on


Although a little late (sorry but it was a busy period), I take advantage of a bit of time to write an article about the third version of the most popular board among all the geeks community : Raspberry Pi 3.

Meccanismo Complesso - Raspberry Pi 3
Fig.1 – Raspberry Pi 3

The new features of Raspberry Pi 3

This new version of Raspberry has been released by the Raspberry Foundation in February of this year (I told you that I’m late;)). The new board has some new features with respect to the previous version Raspberry Pi 2:

  • Wireless LAN
  • Bluetooth 
  • New quad-core ARMv8 1.2 Ghz, a 64-bit processor
  • Power supply 

But let’s see in detail each of them.

The WLAN integration in the board is perhaps, among all, the change most anticipated (at least on my part). Finally, you will not have to buy a WLAN USB  adapter (spending more money) every time you purchase a Raspberry and, at the same time, loosing a USB port forever.

A Bluetooth 4.1 antenna is also been integrated. Finally, this will be of great help for all those using Raspberry Pi 3 for home automation and for practical applications such as controlling sensors and actuators. The IoT world thanks ;). However, for most common uses, a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse will replace those currently connected to a USB port, freeing up additional USB ports occupied.

The BCM2836 SoC (system on chip), has been replaced by a newer BCM2837 chip. This chip integrates an ARM Cortex-A53 processor, a 64-bit CPU with 1.2 GHz . With this new replacement, there is an improvement of quality and higher processing power compared to the previous model.

The power supply has been changed too. In fact, even if the power is supplied via a Micro USB port, you have to use a  5V / 2.5A power supply (more powerful).

Meccanismo Complesso - Raspberry Pi 3 vs Pi 2
Fig.2 – Raspberry Pi 3 and Pi 2

What remains unchanged from Raspberry Pi 2

The graphics card is the same of the previous model. We’re talking about VideoCore IV 3D GPU. This choice was justified for reasons of backwards compatibility with earlier versions of Raspberry. Being able to reuse the old code developed on previous boards is a very strong policy for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and rightly so. In fact, you must not forget that the board is designed for educational purposes. Thus, you have to give priority to all the work done in previous years by instructors and schools. Although in part the performance is improved because the speed of the graphics card is passed from 250 to 400MHz, this feature is the bottleneck regarding the graphics performance of the new Raspberry Pi 3.

The memory is still 1GB of RAM (LPDDR2), although the speed was increased from 450 up to 900 MHz.

The I/O ports on the board remain largely the same. We are talking about 4 USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, the slot for microSD and the HDMI output.

The size and layout of the board remain almost unchanged. This was done in order to keep the compatibility with systems and accessories developed and designed for earlier versions of Raspberry. In fact the placement of some component, such as for example LEDs, is varied on the board, but you can say that, in general, everything has remained as before. Do not worry, you do not need to throw all the accessories you have at home !!! ;).

The 40 GPIO pins have remained the same and were not moved. The same is for the  CSI Camera Interface and DSI Interface Display.

The price is perhaps the single most important factor you want to remain unchanged and so it happened. The price of the Raspberry Pi 3 remained of 35 USD, although in Italy, who knows why, (maybe for the shipping costs, maybe for another), the price does not fall below 40 euro.

New OS supported by Raspberry – Ubuntu MATE e Windows 10

The official operating system for Raspberry is always Raspbian. Although, (big news!!!), in the various data sheets submitted on the official site, Windows no longer appears as an unsupported system. It was released a version of Windows 10 for IoT (Internet of Things) specialized to run on Raspberry Pi 3. I recommend you go to see the official page (I have not tried it yet, but I will let you know soon if it is really effective and it’s worth it). If you have already tried to run Windows 10 on Raspberry, feel free to leave impressions in the comments below.

Meccanismo Complesso - Windows 10 IoT x Raspberry
Fig.3 – Windows 10 IoT for Raspberry Pi 2 and Pi 3

Another operating system that is entering the scene as well Raspbian (Debian version for Raspberry) is Ubuntu MATE. There is an image downloadable from the website and can be used safely on Raspberry, see here. However, many users are finding many issues which remain to be improved and Raspbian still remains the most efficient operating system on which to operate if you want to work well with Raspberry. However, the improvements are there, there are many releases, you have just to wait ….

Raspberry - Ubuntu MATE
Fig.4 – Ubuntu MATE for Raspberry 3

Considerations and performance about the new Raspberry Pi 3 version

Thanks to the new 64-bit processor, the performance is noticeably increased with the respect to the Raspberry Pi 2. However, Raspberry Pi3 board remains what it is. You can do the same operations you carried out with the Raspberry Pi 2, but in a much more efficient way. Thus, the target, the intentions and the purposes of this series of boards remain unchanged: education, ease of use, low cost. If you start to compare this board with miniPC you will risk of being disappointed, especially when you want great graphics performance. If you want or need this, Raspberry is not the proper board. If you wish to do teaching, rapid prototyping, home automation and DIY, this beautiful board has many other surprises to give you. You will be sure that this little board will help you in your activities.


The Raspberry has reached the third evolution, and we hope that in the coming years, new innovations and improvements can even further enhance its success.

In just four years you have seen the evolution of a highly successful board as may be Raspberry Pi. In this short period, more than 8 million boards have been sold.  and even more are the members of the various community of fans all over the world. From a simple intention: creating a device for educational purposes (with Linux), you obtained what you now consider one of the biggest commercial successes of the decade. This,  thanks to a few choices, and among them I want to report two of the most successful: simplicity and low cost (at the same time keeping high applicability). These factors should not be underestimated in a world that is becoming increasingly complex and expensive.

If you want to see the Pi-volution in these 4 years, click on a picture below (available as  PDF too).

Meccanismo Complesso - The Pi-volution 01
Meccanismo Complesso - The Pi-volution 02


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