Rumour has it that the Raspberry 5 is in the works. In this post, we’ll be discussing what we would like to see in the next iteration of the Raspberry Pi single-board computer series, and the improvements we expect it to have from the current generation.
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Raspberry Pi still holds its position in the industry as one of the top choices for relatively inexpensive, general purpose single board computers. Since 2012, Raspberry Pi foundation has released four main generations of the single board computer, the Pi4B being the latest one, released in 2019.
Raspberry Pis are not only used by the hobbyists and makers, but are also used in the IoT industry as a good solution for Linux edge computing. They have become increasingly popular and have had many performance improvements over the years, which now begs the question:
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To answer the question, let’s first discuss the key aspects of a general-purpose single board computer which are most sought-after.
Raspberry Pi has always been in partnership with Broadcom, trusting their line of SoC to be the heart of the Raspberry Pi lineup. The last member of the Broadcom SoC family to end up in a Raspberry Pi was the Broadcom BCM2711, Quad core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC, which comes as the main processor of the Raspberry Pi 4B. It’s highly unlikely that Raspberry Pi will this time go with a different manufacturer, therefore another beefed-up Broadcom SoC can be expected to be in the Raspberry Pi 5, probably in the range of 2GHz base clock. Also, there’s a chance that Raspberry Pi may develop its own SoC, although chances of having one as early as in a Raspberry Pi 5 is highly unlikely.
Talking about RAM, we’d like to see one of the Raspberry Pi 5 versions getting as much as 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, which is not only power efficient, but also faster than its predecessor LPDDR4 SDRAM.
We all know that the Raspberry Pis can get quite hot when they run on full power. With the reduced size and more processing power cramped in, we can expect the Pi5 to get even hotter than the current ones. An additional cooling system (i.e. copper heat pipes, larger area for mounting heat sinks) would be ideal to increase the lifespan of the computer as well as extract as much juice as possible.
So far, all the Raspberry Pi development boards (except the compute modules) have been equipped with MicroSD of SDHC card slots. In the production run, this makes the BOM cost lower but leaves the user to go through the hassle of swapping SD cards between computers and the Pi, flashing bot images etc. Of course this type of setup has its own advantages such as easy backup and restoration, but it’d be nice to see a Pi5 with a built-in eMMC storage with some form of BIOS configuration that will allow the Pi to be booted from a USB flash drive (how about boot from LAN for a change? :D). Adding eMMC storage will not only provide faster IO, but also the data will be less prone to damage and theft.
There isn’t much that can be included into such a small form factor than it already has, but we believe there should be one thing that must make a comeback in the next Raspberry Pi; the full-size HDMI port(s). It’s been a nightmare to connect all those micro-HDMI ports to convert them into full-size HDMI by adapters that need to be purchased separately. The GPIO header is expected to be of the same setup to maintain the backward-compatibility. If an eMMC storage is used, it’ll be nice to have another USB-C port to access the eMMC as a USB-mass storage device, which maintains the existing flexibility of flashing and extracting boot images from the device while keeping the speed and reliability of the eMMC storage.
Other than the default Gigabit Ethernet, USB2.0 and USB3.0 ports, the Raspberry Pi 5 is likely to receive an upgrade for Bluetooth to v5.2 for faster speeds and increased communication range. For added range, SMA connector options for attaching external antennas for WiFi and Bluetooth may also come in handy for production device integration.
Like it’s mentioned before, the comeback of a full-size HDMI port is highly anticipated, along with some improvements to the display output system such as 4k 60fps when running dual-displays. The current version only supports 4k30fps when in dual display mode and 4k60fps in single display setup and this is expected to change in the Raspberry Pi 5.
Obviously, LESS BUGS!
As obvious as it may sound, the Pi 5 is expected to mitigate the issues the current versions have such as:
1. USB-C power issue
There are many USB-C power adapters that come with fast charging technologies such as QuickCharge, DashCharge or SuperCharge. A hardware design flaw in the Raspberry Pi 4/4B has been known to cause some adapters to mis-interpret the device type and provide more than 5V for powering it, and inadvertently frying the board’s power supply or worse, the whole SoC. There have also been some cases where some adapters have refused to power the Pi at all. Maya Posch explains the cause for this in-depth in her article in Hackaday. Therefore, we have high hope that the Pi 5 will not be having the same design flaws; or worse.
2. USB hub and Ethernet chip heating up
There have been instances that the Via Labs VL805 4 port USB hub and the LAN9512 Gigabit Ethernet controller on the Pi4/4B reported to be notoriously getting hot, even when there are no devices plugged in. This has been experienced by only some of the users and no specific reason has been found. The Pi 5 is expected to be free from this mishap since increased idle temperature means decreased lifespan of the components.
3.Low Voltage warning
There has been a mysterious pop up in the desktop asking to check the power supply, even when the power supply should be more than sufficient for the Pi. In the Raspberry Pi 5, this issue is expected to be fixed and we’d like to see it trigger only when the Pi is really struggling to draw enough current from the power supply.
Not so long ago, Raspberry Pi introduced their very own microcontroller, the Raspberry Pi Pico with a boatload of features such as the Programmable IO state machine subsystem. We know that being a microprocessor-based system, Raspberry Pis are not designed for executing time critical tasks all-too-well such as PWM signal generation, DAC and ADC functions; not to mention interrupt handling. Therefore, how about an integration of some of the most sought-out features from the Pico into the Raspberry Pi 5 development board such as,
And one or two essential features such as an RTC and low power modes backed by the microcontroller portion of the system.
These are what we think the core improvements that can be expected to be included in the Raspberry Pi 5. We know it's quite a bit to ask for from the maker of the Raspberry Pi. But some of the features are essential to save the troubleshooting time and focus more on the development of the IoT systems.
Therefore, though the Raspberry Pi 5 may not be perfect, we expect that the design engineers will make sure to include at least some, if not all those improvements in their next release, the Raspberry Pi 5.
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