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Raspberry Pi – Connectivity and Specifications

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

Raspberry Pi Connectivity

Connectivity is truly superb for such a tiny device, especially on the B version of the Raspberry Pi. There are two USB 2.0 ports that can be used to hook up peripherals or adapters, and this can be further expanded with a powered hub. It’s worth noting that both ports already share the bandwidth of a single channel to the system bus.

For video, there’s a full-size HDMI port, making the Raspberry Pi compatible with practically every monitor, TV and other display out there. For older displays that don’t support digital connectivity, the Raspberry Pi even has an analogue composite/RCA video output, which can be used with SCART via an adapter.

Stereo audio can be output over a 3.5mm jack, or you can get the full 5.1 surround sound package through the aforementioned HDMI. There are headers for further expansion, including the ability to hook up a camera or screen. Keep in mind that the microUSB port is for power rather than data. All of these ports are found at the top of the board, while the SD card reader is located at the bottom.

Raspberry Pi Specifications

As you would expect given its price, the Raspberry Pi’s specs are quite modest. The Broadcom SoC includes a 700MHz ARM11 processor and VideoCore IV graphics unit with dedicated video decoding. Incidentally the latter is why the Raspberry Pi will happily breeze through 1080p video while slowing to a crawl with a few browser windows open.

In fact, the Raspberry Pi Foundation claims the CPU performs similarly to a Pentium III 300MHz, and that’s being generous if anything. On the other hand, the VideoCore IV GPU was designed with multimedia in mind and rivals the performance of many current smartphones. It offers so much graphics power the CPU simply can’t keep up.

It’s all backed by 256MB of RAM, which is shared by both the system and GPU. Interestingly, you can set the amount you want available to each. If, for example, you’re going to be using the Raspberry Pi for desktop tasks, you’ll want to allocate the majority to system, while running a graphically intensive shell like XBMC will have you reserving the majority for the graphics.

Raspberry Pi 2

Currently, memory can be allocated in predefined splits as follows: 128MB CPU/128MB GPU; 224MB CPU/32MB GPU; 192MB CPU/64MB GPU. Permanent storage is what you make it, with Class 10 SD cards of up to 32GB working without issue – at least the one we tried.

KeithM

March 24, 2012, 3:13 pm

Who writes this stuff? I taught Computer Science from 1981 - the notion that computers were "a lot more accessible" then is twisting the truth - they were a great deal more cumbersome to use and you often had to write code because that's was all you could do and/or there was no code to do what you wanted. Remember no internet then either!

Hazellhoff

August 2, 2012, 12:19 pm

"It's all backed by 256GB of RAM, which is shared by both the system and GPU."

I want one. That's the cheapest and most compact 256GB of RAM I have *EVER* seen. My macbook pro tops out at 8GB...

Has anyone proof read this article? Made me smile though...

TechVegan

August 2, 2012, 2:39 pm

@KeithM:
Just to clarify that your comment is on the Preview, not the Review. And you're right, but I guess Ed (who wrote the preview) was referring to the 'guts' of the computer - you needed to know more to get anything out of them...

@Hazellhoff:
I'm afraid the Special Edition with 256GB of RAM that we received for review is not available to buy for the public...

Seriously though, thanks for spotting that, fixed (and as mentioned in the review, we actually used a retail Raspberry Pi). Glad we made you smile!

jimmystevo

November 28, 2012, 2:24 am

CONSIDERING THE PI IS AIMED AT NEWCOMERS YOUR REVIEW COMES WITH A LOT OF UNEXPLAINED SPECS AND TEXT,THANK YOU JS

Chris

May 2, 2013, 10:32 am

I bought a Raspberry Pi it is a brilliant piece of hardware but unlike the old BBC computer you need a lot of knowledge and know how just to get it to do anything. After help from an "expert" who spent an hour (he said it would take a few minutes) trying to get the thing to run as a media server using a pre written program we succeeded. I am not technophobic or new in this field but even with the wiki guide I am sure it would have taken me 5 or 6 hours to accomplish this task.

When running it using a PC as a vehicle can someone explain to me why it is necessary to do become a "robot" following a sequence of instructions (I have summarized them below) that are not easy and for the unwary there are pitfalls at every turn. (This is totally non creative and much of it incomprehensible to the new user). There is virtually nothing obvious and it begs the question, why can't it be automated?

All of the below could surely be automated as with a set up program", eg. Click install. then follow the on screen prompts.

Here is the a summary of the sequence!

Download image Unzip
Download USB tool
Setup as in instructions (it took ten minutes to work out that I needed to an administrator and another few minutes to work our how to become one!)
Run restore image, (Why?)
Download Putty http://www.chiark.greenend.org...
Place SD card in Pi. Connect network plug. Switch on.
Connect through putty - may need trial and error to get IP address (ping squeezeplug). Port 22.
Login: root Password: nosoup4u (why do you need to do this?)
Type setup
Follow prompts.
Select Expand_RootFS. (obvious isn't it)
Select Yes and follow prompts. Select Yes to reboot.

Wait a bit for it to come back and login again. Resize the window.
Run setup again.
Configuration:
Advanced Install samba,Media Handling.
MiniDLNA - Install

Need I say more. A shame as it really is a great bit of kit.

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