Raspberry Pi 3 arrives with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth baked in

The new edition of the credit-card-sized computer is 50 percent faster than its predecessor and still costs $35.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
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The new Raspberry Pi 3 is faster than the first two models and includes wireless technologies.

Raspberry Pi Foundation

The third serving of Raspberry Pi is here, with added ingredients.

For $35 -- the same price as its predecessor -- the Raspberry Pi 3 has added Wi-Fi in the form of 802.11n, as well as Bluetooth 4.1, according to a blog post Monday. The addition of Wi-Fi means you don't need to rely on an Ethernet connection for Internet access. Bluetooth integration means you can connect a wireless keyboard or mouse to control the Pi 3 and communicate wirelessly with sensors and other devices.

Designed for hobbyists, developers and students, the Raspberry Pi is a small motherboard outfitted with a CPU, graphics card, memory and other components. By connecting the Pi to a monitor, keyboard and mouse you can use it as a basic computer.

The real point of the Pi is to encourage people to tinker with the device to develop projects and, in particular, to interest students in computer science by teaching them how to solve problems through application design. Sparking interest in computer science at a young age can better prepare children for possible tech careers and give nations the edge against competitors.

"The two main things that people do with their Pi are use it as a PC replacement or use it as an embedded computer," Raspberry Pi Foundation co-founder Eben Upton told the BBC. "The Pi 3 is doubling down on both those things rather than going looking for new things to do."

The Raspberry Pi 3 is also speedier than the first two models.

The new edition is powered by a 1.2GHz, 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU, a step up over the 900MHz, 32-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor used in the previous models. The processor upgrade and other improvements make it 50 percent faster than the Pi 2 in 32-bit mode and 10 times faster than the original Pi, according to Upton.

The Raspberry Pi 3 is also compatible with the first two versions. So any projects created with the original Pi or the Pi 2 will work with the Pi 3.

The Pi 3 is sold through Raspberry Pi partners Element14, RS Components and other resellers.

To run the Pi, you can download a copy of Raspbian, the foundation's official, supported operating system. You can also download and install certain third-party operating systems, such as Ubuntu Linux or Pinet, a system for managing Pi in a classroom. You can even download a copy of Windows 10, but this is a special flavor known as Windows 10 IoT (Internet of Things) designed to run devices using an embedded version of the OS.

The original Raspberry Pi debuted exactly four years ago on February 29, 2012. Since that time, the foundation has shipped more than 8 million units, Upton said in the blog post. The foundation itself has expanded from a small number of volunteers to more than 60 full-time employees.