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Supercharged Raspberry Pi 3 adds Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and more speed, but still costs $35


Agam Shah
IDG News Service
Feb 29, 2016 3:41 AM
Raspberry Pi has an in-store treat on its fourth anniversary.

It is now shipping the Raspberry Pi 3 computer, which at the same $35 price as its Pi 2 predecessor packs a more powerful 64-bit CPU, and for the first time, has built-in wireless capabilities.

The credit-card sized  Pi 3 is up to 60 percent faster than its predecessor, which has shipped in the millions.

It is the first Pi that can be called a true PC replacement, said Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi, in a phone interview with the IDG News Service.

A new PC-class feature in Raspberry Pi 3 is 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4, which weren’t supported on its predecessors. Wireless communication was a feature users wanted in Raspberry Pi 3 after being relegated to ethernet in previous models.

Wireless will make it easier to develop “Nest-like” smart home automation and Internet of Things devices, Upton said.

Also new is a 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU, which runs at 1.2GHz. The processor is used in mobile devices and even servers, and is a big upgrade from the 32-bit 900MHz Cortex-A7 on Pi 2.

The rest of the features haven’t changed from Pi 2. It has an HDMI port, ethernet, MicroSD and four USB ports. It runs a Broadcom VideoCore IV 3D graphics processor that can play 1080p video at 60 frames per second, and has 40 GPIO pins, and display and camera interfaces.

 About 200,000 Pi 3 computers will be available at launch and buyers will get devices in a few days, Upton said.

If the devices run out in the initial rush—which has happened before—Upton said users may have to wait a week or two to get devices. About 100,000 Raspberry Pi 3 devices will be made per week.

The Raspberry Pi 3 is compatible with Microsoft’s Windows 10 IoT Core OS and flavors of Linux including Ubuntu.

The board will “last us a good year or two,” Upton said. But if there’s a chance to pack better graphics or CPU speed in the $35 price range, Raspberry Pi will go ahead and make the upgrades, Upton said.

Raspberry Pi has developed a cult following since the first computer was launched four years ago. It has spawned the development of robots, electronics, gadgets and even a Bitcoin ATM.

But Pi 3 will bring a broader set of innovations to the table, particularly with cloud in the mix, Upton said.

For one, the wireless features will allow users to build rudimentary smart homes by hooking up Raspberry Pi 3 to Bluetooth-based appliances, lighting or air-conditioning systems.

 Information from devices could be hauled to cloud services for analysis via wireless. For example, a cloud service could tell a Raspberry Pi to turn an air conditioning system on or off based on data collected from smart meters, which could help cut electric bills.

The Pi 3 could also be used to develop home security systems or “health hubs,” where data is collected from health monitoring devices and sent to the cloud, Upton said. It’s much like Fitbit, which sends health information from smartwatches to the cloud, where the data is tracked and compiled to recommend diets and workouts.

The new features in Raspberry Pi 3 align well with Microsoft’s Azure cloud service, which will provide remote automation, security, analytics and other services. Azure works hand-in-hand with the Windows 10 IoT Core OS.

However, some key features like ZigBee  — which is key to home automation and IoT—are missing from Pi 3. Zigbee could have been included in the $35 price, but Bluetooth is the future of short-range wireless communications, Upton said.

Raspberry Pi is also planning a modular version of the Pi 3, which will have similar capabilities but be packaged in a board that could be installed inside computers. A shipping date for the board wasn’t provided.

Many IoT platforms like Google’s Brillo and ARM’s mbed are also emerging for users to develop connected devices that rely on cloud services. Upton said support for more IoT platforms will come to Raspberry Pi 3.


Active Member
Previously, I was using a RPi for a SiriProxy server. Since Apple changed the protocol to prevent MITM, I haven't used my RPi for anything.

I'm trying to justify getting a v3 but can't find a need for it.


Active Member
pete_c said:

Many IoT platforms like Google’s Brillo and ARM’s mbed are also emerging for users to develop connected devices that rely on cloud services. Upton said support for more IoT platforms will come to Raspberry Pi 3.
Cool device, not sure it's that much better than the existing Pi. I do like the $5 Pi. I'd like it better if I could get my hands on it. ;)
I've got the SmartThings hub and the SmartThings Sheild. The ZigBee Shield costs more than the Pi and the individual part costs more that the Pi and the Shield :wacko:
The Pi is making it hard to just sit down an use an Arduino when you need a micro. :wub:


Senior Member
I was impressed last year when they announced the quad-core and 1GB RAM at the same cost. Now, upgrading the processor, adding native wifi and BT... amazing amount of power in there for $35!


I am amazed at the offering and updates relating to the RPi3 for $35.
Here have two RPi2's running 24/7 and doing fine - only adds to both have been RTC. The original RPi has been retired now.
Might move current running RPi2 to the RPi3 and start playing with a Zigbee add on for the older RPi2.


Active Member
Found the vendor in Germany (I think). Dang, that has better pricing, wonder if they'll ship across the pond? Wonder if I search a bit more can I find a US supplier.
... like Digikey (doh!).


Yup; they are made in Germany.  So is a similiar Z-Wave dot me one I purchased. 
I have purchased a few items from the EU here which hasn't been sold here from MCM electronics.
That is where I purchased my RPi2's, PiFace RTC, cases, et al.  They typically do a $5 ship anywhere in US deal.
Both were on Amazon Prime - 2 day delivery. 
Thinking I paid $49.95 for the Z-Wave Plus GPIO card from Amazon (its been a while now).
The RaspBee is $40.57 USD Dresden Elektronik Wireless
There it is $25.17 Euro which is $27.38 plus ~ $5.00 for shipping to the US..  (guesstimate)
I see development / diagnostic stuff available for it but no current open source automation stuff yet.


Here have purchased my RPi2's from MCM.  Thinking the deal is $5.00 shipping for everything.  (well what I got).  Got a case, power supply and PiFace RTC shim.
I am using the RPi2's today with TP-Link POE injectors.  They do fine.  Wish too that they included an RTC.
I will probably put the RPi2 Homeseer 3 software on the RPi3 and install the Zigbee board on the old RPi2.


Active Member
I also wish that the RPi* devices incorporated POE rather than only 'POU' (power-over-usb).  But I suppose that the target audience is more inline with 'POU'..  I don't even find any RPi knock-offs that nicely integrate POE.  Perhaps my prejudices are based on the fact that I work for that IP networking company, founded in San FranCisco'.  ^_^


Senior Member
I understand that it would probably increase size considerably, but I think it would be awesome if the RPi could be powered via POE and allowed another V+ output (12V) in addition to the 5V and 3.3V outputs. I think that would greatly enhance the onboard capability.