4

In electronics many boards go through revisions as various chips are end-of-lifed orreplaced for cost cutting.

In industry this is very important so that we can have a stable base for several years. I have been championing a trial of the Raspberry Pi as a replacement for the current boards and OS that cost nearly 10 times the price of a Pi.

So my question is, how many different revisions due to EoL parts/reducing costs were there for the Pi 2, and is this indicative of the way that the Pi 3 is going too?

3

Significant design changes were only made on the early versions of the Pi, this doesn't include the Pi 2 Model B.

However for the Pi 2 Model B there was a total of 2 revisions to the PCB. However, I can't seem to find detail on what some of those revisions were.

To check what revision you have open a terminal window and run:

cat /proc/cpuinfo

You should get an output that looks like the following:

Processor       : ARMv6-compatible processor rev 7 (v6l)
BogoMIPS        : 847.05
Features        : swp half thumb fastmult vfp edsp java tls
CPU implementer : 0x41
CPU architecture: 7
CPU variant     : 0x0
CPU part        : 0xb76
CPU revision    : 7
Hardware        : BCM2708
Revision        : 0002
Serial          : 000000000abc0ab1

The bit you are interested in is the Revision. However the fact it says 0002, does not actually mean its a Pi 2 Model B revision 2 board.

To break it down for you:

  • a01040 - Rev 1.0 board manufactured by Sony
  • a01041 - Rev 1.1 board manufactured by Sony (in the UK)
  • a21041 - Rev 1.1 Board manufactured by Embest (in China)
  • a22042 - Rev 1.2 Board manufactured by Embest (in China)

Interestingly on the Hardware History Wiki Page it notes that the 1.2 board features the BCM2837, which is the Broadcom chip used in the Pi 3. The underlying architecture between BCM2837 and BCM2836 as used in earlier revisions of the Pi 2 is the same. The key difference is the ARMv7 quad core cluster was replaced with a quad-core ARM Cortex A53 (ARMv8) cluster.

There does not seem to have been any revisions to the Pi 3 Model B. If some unexpected fault is discovered, I assume a new revision would be created. I'm not sure that any significant hardware changes are going to be made to it.

Also a "Pi 4" is to not going be released in 2017 according to Eben Upton the Pi's co-creator. And also on the topic of the rapid realease of the Pi 3 after the Pi 2 he said.

We're kind of at the end of that particular roadmap. I would expect a longer pause, a couple of years at least, before any kind of major bump to the platform

So don't hold out for a Pi 4.

1

Addressing the implicit question whether it is advisable to replace a industry grade piece of equipment. Obviously it is possible to do so, there are some examples that did it, and (to my understanding) the Raspberry Pi Foundation's licensing admits it.

However:

  • the Pi has been designed as a "cheap" eductional computer, not as a rugged industrial appliance;
  • it suffers from a limited temperature range, i.e. here;
  • it is not certain that new models of the Pi will be a drop-in replacement for older boards that go EoL. The first models changed the available connectors significantly. Newer boards feature a different family of processors as a SoC resulting in necessary changes to software and the OS;
  • there is no commitment of the Raspberry Pi Foundation to provide Pi's (or certain models) for an extended period of time - something industrial suppliers provide (thus their higher price range);
  • it might be difficult to purchase the desired quantity of Pis, i.e. the "issue" with the availability of the Pi Zero.

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