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New in the lab: Raspberry Pi 4B

The Raspberry Pi has taken the embedded device world by storm since its release. It is a cheap, tiny, low-power, single-board computer that is capable of running a general-purpose operating system, which allows rapid and cheap prototyping of new ideas. However, low-power and cheap contribute to the RPi’s inherent weakness: low performance. The latest Raspberry Pi boasts increased performance, and it delivers a significant boost in I/O performance, but CPU-heavy tasks will continue to languish.

We have run a couple of quick benchmarks to establish the performance characteristics of the new Pi 4B, and are thrilled with the huge performance boost.

Pi 4Pi 3B+Pi 3BPi 2UpBoard
iperf loopback3.28 Gbits/sec
iperf wired network
USB disk sequential read200MB/sec
USB disk sequential write
SD card sequential read45MB/sec
SD card sequential write
CPU idle power draw730mA
CPU load power draw980mA

iperf loopback: good indication of CPU, memory, and TCP stack performance of the system. Commands: iperf3 -s & iperf3 -c 127.0.0.1

iperf wired network: indication of network I/O performance. Commands: iperf3 -s (iperf3 -c is run from another much faster computer)

USB disk sequential write: indication of USB I/O performance. Commands: dd if=/dev/zero of=/mnt/usb-disk.img bs=1M count=10240

USB disk sequential read: indication of USB I/O performance. Commands: dd if=/mnt/usb-disk.img of=/dev/null bs=1M count=10240

SD card sequential write: indication of SDIO or MMC I/O performance. Commands: dd if=/dev/zero of=/sd-disk.img bs=1M count=10240

SD card sequential read: indication of SDIO or MMC I/O performance. Commands: dd if=/sd-disk.img of=/dev/null bs=1M count=10240

CPU idle power draw: indication of how much power the RPi is drawing when idle. Read USB power meter 10 minutes after boot.

CPU idle power draw: indication of how much power the RPi is drawing when its CPU is under load. Read USB power meter for 5 minutes during boot.

WiFi2Work is using Raspberry Pi computers for embedded projects, including as LoRaWAN radio gateways and application servers. The significant I/O performance boost is welcome, and the expanded memory capacity is wonderful, but we recognise the limitations of the CPU core and will continue to recommend offloading CPU-intensive work to faster computers.

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