Raspberry PI 2 B hands-on

The new Raspberry PI 2 Model B 1GB specs:

  • QUAD Core Broadcom BCM2836 CPU with 1GB RAM
  • 40pin extended GPIO
  • Micro SD slot
  • Multiple Ports: 4 USB ports, Full Size HDMI, 4 pole Stereo output and Composite video port, CSI camera port & DSI display port
  • Micro USB power source

Today (5.2.2015) the new model Raspberry PI 2 B 1GB arrived and I would like to share my first hands-on experience. In the package purchased at pollin.de for € 38,90 incl. VAT. Included is a quick-guide with references to the element14 website for OS download.

I attached the portapow USB current/voltage meter to measure the used current. From raspberrypi.org tried out the snappy-ubuntu core alpha-02. It booted into a shell without system information during the boot-up. Login with ubuntu/ubuntu. startx didn’t work here. Having a powerful fanless ubuntu system was the intention to get the new raspi model in the first place.

The current was between 0.2 and 0.4 amps – of course without a graphical interface. A USB source with at least 0.6 amps is highly recommended in the specs – you better take one with 2 amps to provide enough current for peripherals.

I wanted to try out a graphical OS and so prepared my 16GB micro SDHC-card with the NOOBS package (Version: 1.3.12 Release date: 2015-02-02). Snappy-Ubuntu isn’t included here, and the offered openELEC is the old 4.x version.

The raspbian (kernel 3.18.5-v7+) still includes a free Mathematica. I was curious what it is capable to perform on the new engine, but according to the cpu-load graph it just runs on one v7 core. Check it out yourself with this nice 3D plot:

Graphics3D[{Opacity[.8],
Glow[RGBColor[1, 0, 0]],
EdgeForm[White], Lighting ->
None, PolyhedronData["Echidnahedron", "Faces"]}]

The raspi-config tool offers overclocking up-to 1000MHz. Raspbian Openbox is initially running with a resolution of 1776×952 pixels on my FullHD screen leaving a big black bezel. I hope to be able to change it soon.

Impression:

The new model runs with low power consumption. Distributions aren’t yet ready to utilize the QUAD core ARMv7.
I am a little disappointed that there is still the useless DSI display port (no available devices so far). There’s still the fragile Micro USB power-in and no reset button. And you can barely find Linux distributions for 2GB SD cards.

If you want to tinker with sensors and LCD-Displays, motors and RGB-LEDs you should give the new model a chance. It is still at least as good as the previous Model B+

For those who like a low power consuming graphical linux system with reasonable power, I suggest the odroid U3 from hardkernel.com with

  • SAMSUNG Exynos4412 Prime Cortex-A9 Quad Core 1,7 Ghz
  • 2GB DDR2 880
  • Mali-400 Quad Core 440 MHz for up-to 1080p
  • 3 USB ports and ethernet
  • optional eMMC flash drive (8 times faster than micro sdhc)
  • Linux Xubuntu or Android 4.x

It also runs a very smooth XBMC in 1080p

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