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Raspberry Pi4: Now with 8 GB of memory and misleading marketing

The Raspberry Pi foundation has released a new variant of the Pi4. The new models is the same as last years model, but with 8GB of memory for $75. They also offer a new 64 bit Pi OS, which is not the same as the familiar, 32 bit Raspian.

Tom’s Hardware offers a fair appraisal of this move, saying:

The short answer is that, right now, the 8GB capacity makes the most sense for users with very specialized needs: running data-intensive server loads or using virtual machines. As our tests show, it’s pretty difficult to use more than 4GB of RAM on Raspberry Pi, even if you’re a heavy multitasker.

They also note that Raspian (32 bit) is limited to 4 Gb per process, but can use 8GB split across different processes.

The most heavyweight thing I’ve tried to do with a Pi4 is run Dicaffeine. In that application I find it CPU constrained. Available memory is not an issue.

raspberrypi4

Thus I was dismayed that this weeks press releases, which cite “New, more powerful processor” (see above) are just marketecture. It’s faster than the Pi3, but exactly the same as any prior model of the Pi4, which makes the claim fairly bogus in 2020.

Sadly, that also means it’s no better able to deal with a Dicaffeine displaying a 1080p60 NDI stream than the 4GB model I have on-hand.

I must admit, I don’t see the appeal of using a Pi as a desktop replacement. People make noise about that. I just don’t get it.

Every desktop I’ve had in the past decade or more has been more powerful, expandable and costly, too. But they’re also more practical in that role. I see Pi as fit for embedded applications, which is why we have several hereabouts. I accept that things may be very different elsewhere.

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