Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Board Features a 64-Bit ARM Processor, Adds WiFi and Bluetooth Connectivity

The Raspberry Pi foundation is working on yet another model of the popular Raspberry Pi boards, as the Raspberry Pi 3 model B board has showed up on the FCC website. The new board looks very similar to Raspberry Pi 2 model B, but adds on-board WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz only) and Bluetooth 4.0. Let’s play “spot the difference” with Raspberry Pi 2 at the top and Raspberry Pi 3 under.

Raspberry-Pi_3_vs_Raspberry-Pi_2
Raspberry Pi 2 (Top) vs Raspberry Pi 3 (Bottom)

The processor looks the same as the BCM2836 quad core Cortex A7 SoC found on model 2 B, but one redditer claims it could be a 64-bit processor due to some MagPi ad. [Update: that’s the MagPi ad which confirms Raspberry Pi 3 will feature a 64-bit ARM processor @ 1.2 GHz. Thanks Gabe!

Raspberry_Pi_3_64-Bit_ARM]

We’ll find the WiFi/BT chip antenna on the top left corner, and two through holes on the right of the 40-pin connectors, likely the RUN header for reset that can be found on the RPi2 where the chip antenna is now placed on RPi 3. So the through holes are not new, they’ve just moved it. All connectors have the exact same placement between the two versions. Let’s check out the other side of the board.

Raspberry-Pi_3_vs_Raspberry-Pi_2_WiFi_Module
Raspberry Pi 2 (Top) vs Raspberry Pi 3 (Bottom)

The wireless module (likely Broadcom based) can be found just above the micro SD slot, and J5 connector is soldered. J5 is the JTAG connector, so it will probably not be soldered with the version that ships. The picture is not very clear but it looks like they’ve used the same Elpida B8132B4PB-8D-F RAM chip (1GB) as on Raspberry Pi 2. So although we can’t be 100% certain right now, the RAM appears to be the same, and the processor is still connected to a similar USB to Ethernet chip, so they’ve probably kept the same architecture, expect possibly for the CPU core. So the only major changes on Raspberry Pi 3 appears to be built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, and  64-bit ARM cores (likely Cortex A53).

Via Liliputing and HackerNews

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75 Comments
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Johnny
Johnny
5 years ago

Still Broadcom? So likely still terrible media drivers? I think I’ll pass and look elsewhere.

Ian Tester
5 years ago

@Johnny
Of course it’s using Broadcom chips. Most of the RPi Foundation people are current or former employees of Broadcom. It’s practically a branch of the company. And they certainly get a discount on the chips.

tkraspi
tkraspi
5 years ago

Maybe if add NAND unit and up memory speed to 2GB, it will be THE ROCK BOARD 😉

boudyka
boudyka
5 years ago

Gigabit ethernet and usb 3.0 and bit of rendering oomph would change the universe at 70 quid I’m in 🙂

Ali
Ali
5 years ago

For some reason, there seems to be more resistors towards the top of the CPU on the RPi3, between the CPU and the Raspberry Pi logo. Could hint at at different CPU being used ?

tkaiser
tkaiser
5 years ago

Seems like a different BroadCom SoC: http://kaiser-edv.de/tmp/4U4tkD/Left_RPi2_Right_RP3.jpg So Allwinner’s A64 won’t be the slowest Cortex-53 any longer soon 😉

Gabe
Gabe
5 years ago

Here is the MagPi advert:
http://i.imgur.com/KRRd7OQ.jpg

Ian Tester
5 years ago

64-bit? Now that’s interesting. Until now, the only 64-bit ARM boards were either incredibly expensive server boards or the disappointing 96boards offerings. It’ll probably have Cortex-A53 cores, so no speed demon. But at least it’ll be much cheaper and widely available, and not squeezed onto tiny boards like 96boards.

tkaiser
tkaiser
5 years ago

Where does this 64-bit hype originate from? I would assume they try to stay as compatible to the previous RPis so the hardware will be initialised by the VideoCore processor and then they will run ARMv6 code on Cortex-A53 maybe even using a 32-bit kernel. Cortex-A53 might be interesting if you optimise your code for ARMv8 (_then_ you get probably more performance) or use 64-bit features like more than 4GB RAM. This board has still only 1 GB RAM (32-bit address bus?) and still just a single USB2.0 connection to the outside. Wow. In this combination the move to Cortex-A53… Read more »

nobe
nobe
5 years ago

Let’s hope the new soc will bring better IO.
I also wonder how the RPI foundation and its community will handle the software optimization transition.

tkaiser
tkaiser
5 years ago

@nobe
There’s still the LAN9514 USB hub with integrated Fast Ethernet used (check the FCC link and click on ‘External Photos’) so how should I/O improve (maybe they manage to deal with WiFi/BT through SDIO/UART instead of USB). And why should an ‘optimization transition’ happen? That’s maybe the greatest strength of the RPi: Everything the same on every board even if it’s slower than necessary 😉

onebir
onebir
5 years ago

Custom/new BCM chip, or are there already 64 bit ones matching the spec/likely price point?

blu
blu
5 years ago

@onebir
Just imagine if it turns out to be the new BRCM Vulcan ;p

Chris Burton
Chris Burton
5 years ago

This came through via snail mail this morning https://dnshistory.org/dump/CPC%20-%20Computer%20World%20-%20March%202016.pdf BCM2837 (64bit quad core 1.2Ghz) / 1GB RAM / BMCB43143 WiFi & BTLE and no the order code doesn’t work yet.

blu
blu
5 years ago


Right, it’s a high-throughput server chip, expected to compete with Cavium’s, AMD’s and Qualcomm’s.

onebir
onebir
5 years ago

@blu
BRCM BabySpock

cortex-a72
cortex-a72
5 years ago

I’m glad for raspberry pi guys, for their new offering, good for them, wish them success, but really, if you wanna play with something 64-bit arm, then Odroid-C2 is a clear winner. 96boards and pine64 are both an abysmal.

natsu
natsu
5 years ago

@cortex-a72
odroid C2 shipping cost makes it obsolete, that’s the real problem

Sander
Sander
5 years ago

@tkaiser

For me *the* 64-bit argument is … Docker.

Docker is possible on ARM32 (I have it on my Raspi2) and other 32bit, but it is a bit of stepchild: only a few container images available in the Docker hub.

RK
RK
5 years ago

@tkaiser Technically speaking, 64bit isn’t just ram. The buses – which are the major bottleneck when it come to graphics and communication – multiply in width too. So it’s much easier to write interpreters and implement garbage collection, concurrency and type safety when you have many large registers and a big, fat stack (and heap). Practically speaking, when servers, desktops, mobiles and embedded are all moving to 64bit architectures (x86-64 and ARMv8), not doing the same often means losing out on optimizations. Especially when you consider how Android is moving away form Dalvik and ART to the OpenJDK, leaving all… Read more »

Jesu
Jesu
5 years ago

Each comment was removed today, is related to pi 3. (from raspberrypi.org)
Something must have made…
2 night sleep and everything will be clean. 😉

natsu
natsu
5 years ago

the media decoder, any info about support of HEVC and VP 4K decoding ???

Pete
Pete
5 years ago

@Jesu
Hi Jesu .. I thought I was going mad … but your right the comment i wrote on the raspberry pi blog was edited! no reference to pi 3 …

MarkW
MarkW
5 years ago
memeka
memeka
5 years ago

most probably the pi3 will have the same GPU as before. just like the transition from pi to pi2, only the CPU cores will change. also, the bus does not get wider in 64 bit, the registers do. the pi3 will unfortunately still have the IO as bottleneck, as again will have one shared USB controller for network and all its 4 USB ports.
i don’t foresee any HEVC, VP, 4k, or better performance in emulators such as ppsspp or n64 that rely on GPU.

natsu
natsu
5 years ago

@memeka
in that case, we have to go ODROID C2 a much better and well balanced board after all, 16$ for shipping on top, but very well deserved

JM
JM
5 years ago

Someone posted what’s apparently a page of the CPC catalogue on Reddit: http://i.imgur.com/exuZy58.jpg

But it says “64bit quadcore ARM 7 processor”… ?

Maybe it’s a 64bit … memory bus 😉

onebir
onebir
5 years ago

@JM
From catalogue processor is “BCM2837”, whatever that is…

JM
JM
5 years ago

@onebir
It’s BCM2836 (current Pi 2 processor) + 1 🙂

I’ll eat my hat if this turns out to be a true arm64 processor.

wired420
wired420
5 years ago

@tkraspi

The fact that you call the amount of memory the “memory speed”, tells us you don’t deserve to have this or any high tech device.

Ush73
Ush73
5 years ago

Sounds greatvbut highly doubt same pricing.

deets
deets
5 years ago

@Ush73
Catalog shown above puts it right around $35

Nobody of Import
Nobody of Import
5 years ago

JM, might want to get some sauce for the hat just in case. They WERE working on an A53 equivalent.

JM
JM
5 years ago

Farnell datasheet for the Raspberry Pi 3 lists “64bit ARMv7″… http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/2020826.pdf

Stephen
Stephen
5 years ago

It’s disappointing that it still only has 1GB of RAM. Hopefully it is still not LPDDR2 and they have at least upgraded it to LPDDR3.

tkaiser
tkaiser
5 years ago

@RK
Ok, 64-bit isn’t just ‘more RAM’ but wider buses. Since they now write ‘BCM2837 64bit ARMv7’ these wider buses seem all you get from the 64-bit transition? The same ultra slow 1GB LPDDR2 DRAM, still just one USB2.0 connection to the outside and their official USB WiFi dongle based on BCM43143 is now also onboard.

Really no ARMv8 but Aarch64 ‘backported’ to ARMv7? No ATF (ARM trusted firmware) but proprietary hardware initialisation through VideoCore? If that’s the case this board isn’t even interesting for software devs trying to dive into 64-bit ARM development. 🙂

Nz1
Nz1
5 years ago

I am wondering if 64bit computers need twice as much ram as 32bit computers. I know that arm used to have a thumb instruction set that somehow managed to shoehorn 2 16bit instructions into a 32bit word for 32bit processors, so that ram wouldn’t be wasted. I am not sure if they still do this or if it is part of Android or Linux or even if people bother with 64bit cpus. The problem is that ram is still relatively expensive so 64bit instructions that waste ram still matters. If there is not enough ram the 64bit board could run… Read more »

blu
blu
5 years ago

A 32bit ARMv8 is ok, but a 64bit ARMv7 makes absolutely no sense. Something was lost in translation.

Peter Bauer
5 years ago
Jon Smirl
5 years ago

@Nz1

Apps in 64b computers are a lot bigger than 32b ones. Just compare the same Linux app source code compiled for x86 and x86_64. It is because they drag around a lot of 64b numbers (addresses) that weren’t there before. But without 64b you aren’t going to get more than 4GB of physical memory. Bigger apps need more memory bandwidth, more cache area, etc.

A 64b CPU like the Allwinner A64 with a 3GB DRAM limit is fairly pointless except for marketing purposes.

Jon Smirl
5 years ago

BTW – ARM is chasing 64b to get large address spaces (like 128GB of memory or more) so that there is room for many virtual machines. This is all about ARM64 on the server, not the desktop.

Harley
Harley
5 years ago

I too want to know if it supports hardware video decoding of HEVC (H.265) and VP9? Both are royaltee free so should be fine to use if only the hardware would support it.

Don’t think it really deserves to be called Raspberry Pi “3” unless it the CPU is 64-bit and it supports at least hardware decoding of 1080p HEVC videos, with VP9 being a bonus.

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

@Stephen
Why when the latest firmware updates allow it to run at up to 600MHz with complete stability on a Pi2B? The same is likely to be true of the Pi3B unless they’ve downgraded the RAM.

Jon Smirl
5 years ago

@Harley

h.265 is not royalty free. In fact the fight over excessive royalties is what is holding it up from deployment.

No TA
No TA
5 years ago

Good job you are not posting about this on The RaspberryPi forum. The posts about it get deleted by the heavy handed who answer to no one.

JM
JM
5 years ago

@Jon Smirl
Am64 is not nearly as wasteful x86-64 and there are are many performance advantages in using it, even in platforms with 2gb or less RAM.

Slackstick
Slackstick
5 years ago

@Jon Smirl

For ARM, just like X86 but unlike MIPS and PowerPC, 64 bit is not pointless. It effectively is a complete new instruction set. ARM32 is mediocre. ARM64 is a very well instruction set with more than doubled amount of registers. Whether your pointers are 32 or 64 bit is up to you.

Nice to see RPi moving to ARM64 that early. However, I want more performance than Cortex A35, 4GB memory and faster IO.

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon
5 years ago

@Slackstick
Is it possible that RasPi 3 will use Cortex A32? Heat dissipation for Raspberry Pi is a real challenge because the provision for HAT boards precludes use of a substantial heatsink on the SoC. In such a constrained situation Cortex A32 features offer intriguing possibilities.

No Ta
No Ta
5 years ago

@Slackstick

Maybe manufacturers are hoping low power use and small memory will keep Windows and the big players out of the market?

tkaiser
tkaiser
5 years ago

@Curmudgeon
They mentioned they ‘improved’ DC-IN for up to 2.4A so better don’t expect less consumption and lower temperatures 😉

Jon Smirl
5 years ago

@Slackstick

Totally bogus comparison….

A64 toolbox exe from Android 5.1 – 255,280
RK3128 toolbox exe from Android 5.1 – 150,836
So same source code, 70% bigger.

But this is just a proxy comparison, you need to do a lot more work to really compare.

PS. even though things get bigger on 64b, they don’t necessarily get any slower. Sometimes they get faster due to more and longer registers.

Slackstick
Slackstick
5 years ago

@Curmudgeon

Possible? Yes. I don’t know. However, I would not expect too much from ARM marketing. I would prefer a 64 bit ARM processor without 32 bit legacy instead of Cortex A32.

Slackstick
Slackstick
5 years ago

@Jon Smirl

Did you compile the code? Even if Thumb was not used, who cares about 100KB? Of course they get faster. This is because of the new instruction set.

Nz1
Nz1
5 years ago

If the operating system decides that its running out of ram and decides to page out part of an app to the sdcard then I imagine that the 64bit board will seem to die a lot faster then the 32bit card, if both boards have the same amount of ram.
I like the idea of a better instruction set and more registers though. If only ram was less expensive then we might really benefit from 64bit single board computers.

Slackstick
Slackstick
5 years ago

@Nz1

For paging of code, the linux kernel does not write the code to the swap file as it re-uses the code still in the executable.

Nonetheless, RAM is damned cheap. If they only would solder more of it on the PCB.

Nz1
Nz1
5 years ago

@Slackstick
So what happens if there still isn’t enough ram and all the data has been swapped out. Does the OS think, I tried my best and crash anyway? Thats what OS’s used to do, a long time ago, but then they fixed them.

Compared to flash, ram is very expensive. I’m not sure why this is given that they use similar technology. I suspect it has something to do with marketing, and what they think the market can bear.

Jon Smirl
5 years ago

I compiled full Android builds for both CPUs. These files are not using thumb. This is the 32b ARM instruction set vs the 64b one.

libcrypto.so RK3128 1,052,920
libcrypto.so A64 1,673,400

60% larger. Every code file i looked at follows this pattern.
You see the same thing on 32/64b x86 systems.

Note that the Android image is not 60% larger, a lot of Android is not code or written in Java. Those parts did not change size.

Slackstick
Slackstick
5 years ago

@Nz1

A good OS will never crash voluntarily ;-). It doesn’t give the application the requested RAM and the application should handle this. Worst case, the OS quits the application.

Besides using multi bit cells, I suppose flash is much cheaper because it is much slower. I didn’t hear about excessive earnings of RAM manufacturers for a long time.

TLS
TLS
5 years ago

I’d hazard a guess that this is the first Cortex-A35 (not A53) SoC to launch. It would make sense from a cost perspective and the target market.

JM
JM
5 years ago

Cortex-A53 confirmed in official datasheet. https://www.dropbox.com/s/66u2mvkuqnkec40/0900766b814ba692.pdf?dl=1

Now to eat my hat..

Stephen
Stephen
5 years ago

It still uses LPDDR2 DRAM, and uses more power probably because Broadcom is still using the same 40 nm process for the BCM2837 that it used for previous processors.

Nz1
Nz1
5 years ago

@Slackstick
I think worstcase everything should keep working but the system should gracefully degrade by using swapspace.
Apple may have decided that its better not to use flash as swapspace because they think its too slow or unreliable, or maybe they want their users to spend dollars and buy another device with more ram, but an OS designed for real work should not be designed this way.

eugene28
eugene28
5 years ago

@Peter Bauer
How did you do that? No listing of it on the website.

JM
JM
5 years ago

@Nz1
It’s carrot+stick problem.

If developers can go on freely with almost endless swap and their apps keep on working even if the usability has gone to hell (I’m assuming you’ve experienced systems where swap is being used – it’s not a fun experience) they will never optimise anything – “it still works!”.

On the other hand if the OS is killing your app because you’ve been careless with it’s resources then it instantly becomes a major issue to be addressed.

Nz1
Nz1
5 years ago

I am actually using an ipad at the moment where I have to continually select Desktop view, even though I have selected it previously, because the cookies or whatever are being continually purged because the OS is continually telling Safari to release memory. My tabs have to keep on being refreshed because for some reason the OS is running out of memory. In practise telling the app to release memory seems to result in the user getting fustrated and little memory actually being released. When I first got the Ipad it worked flawlessly. Now with all the OS and app… Read more »

JM
JM
5 years ago

@Nz1
“Request Desktop View” is a one shot temporary action, it’s does that by design – nothing to do with memory purging cookies or anything, it just changes the user agent anyway so nothing more than a flag to keep in memory.

I do wish the CNX site itself was better designed so we wouldn’t need to use that kludge.

Nz1
Nz1
5 years ago

@JM
It should keep the flag when navigating in the cnx-software domain. If it loses the flag while the browser is still navigating in the domain then that means Safari is wiping out the page variables when it shouldn’t be.
Its only when the browser navigates outside the domain that the temp flag gets lost because the new page does not know anything about the cnx-software page software or its variables.

Gabe
Gabe
5 years ago

You can buy it now from RS components, I think only UK customers can buy it from this site:
http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/processor-microcontroller-development-kits/8968660/

Tony
5 years ago

I like the new version of the Raspberry Pi. But i think there is more to do to complete the user whises like sata and 1 GBit ethernet.

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