Raspberry Pi launches its first 8GB RAM variant and new OS name

28 May 2020

The original version of Raspberry Pi 4. Image: © Natlia/Stock.adobe.com

As well as launching the 8GB Raspberry Pi 4, the foundation is also changing the name of the Raspbian operating system to Raspberry Pi OS.

Today (28 May), almost a year after the release of Raspberry Pi 4, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced that it is launching a new model of the low-cost computer with 8GB of RAM.

In a blogpost, the foundation said that it has sold nearly 3m units of Raspberry Pi 4, shipped a number of minor board revisions, and reduced the price of the 2GB variant from $45 to $35 over the course of the last year.

The organisation also said that it has reduced the idle and loaded power consumption of the device and made some other notable changes, alongside the usual bug fixes, feature additions and kernel version bumps.

The first Raspberry Pi single-board computer was released in 2012, and was designed to make basic computer science more accessible.

The new 8GB Raspberry Pi 4 will be the most expensive version to date, priced at $75.

The 8GB Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton wrote: “While we launched with 1GB, 2GB and 4GB variants, even at that point we had our eye on the possibility of an 8GB Raspberry Pi 4. We were so enthusiastic about the idea that the non-existent product made its way into both the beginner’s guide and the compliance leaflet.”

In the blogpost, Upton shared an image of the old beginner’s guide with the 8GB variant included, which was captioned ‘oops’.

He explained that there were obstacles out of the foundation’s control that prevented the release of the 8GB variant until now, but said it has since solved those problems with its partners at Micron finding a suitable part.

“It’s worth reflecting for a moment on what a vast quantity of memory 8GB really is,” Upton added.

‘If you’re a power user, intending to compile and link large pieces of software or run heavy server workloads, or you simply want to be able to have even more browser tabs open at once, this is definitely the Raspberry Pi for you.”

Other changes in the latest release

The power supply components have been shuffled and a switch-mode power supply has been removed in this version, Upton explained, while a new switcher has been added next to the USB-C power connector.

He said that this necessary change cost the company three months in delays due to supply chain disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

To take advantage of the new RAM capacity, the company is also working on a 64-bit version of its operating system. The OS still uses a 32-bit kernel, which does not make full use of the 8GB RAM, but users can install Ubuntu or Gentoo in the meantime.

It also plans to change the name of its Raspbian operating system to Raspberry Pi OS, to make it easier for new users to find and access the recommended operating system for Raspberry Pi.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic