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Raspberry Pi 3 Gains Onboard Wi-Fi + Bluetooth

New wireless connectivity options open up possibilities for the credit-card sized computer.

[Photo: Flickr user Gonzalo Malpartida]

Today isn’t only a leap day, it’s also the four-year anniversary of the release of the original Raspberry Pi single-board computer. Since that time, the Raspberry Pi has found a legion of followers with hobbyists, hackers, and makers, selling millions of units. Its users use the tiny computer as the backbone for devices including everything from PCs to media streamers to robots.

"Exactly four years ago, on 29 February 2012, we unleashed the original 256MB Raspberry Pi Model B on a largely unsuspecting world," Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton wrote in a blog post. "Since then, we’ve shipped over eight million units, including three million units of Raspberry Pi 2, making us the UK’s all-time best-selling computer. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has grown from a handful of volunteers to have over sixty full-time employees, including our new friends from Code Club. We’ve sent a Raspberry Pi to the International Space Station and are training teachers around the world through our Picademy program."

To celebrate its fourth anniversary, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the immediate availability of the Raspberry Pi 3, which contains several improvements over the last-generation model. The Pi 3 features an upgraded 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU, which increases the device's clock speed by 33% over the previous generation. The Pi 3 also gets an upgraded power system. That point is important to note because not only does the Pi 3 retain its four USB ports, it’ll need the extra power capabilities because this time the device gains wireless connectivity in the form of both 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.1.

The new wireless connectivity options should grant a new host of possibilities for Raspberry Pi, not the least of which is now two of its USB ports can be used for other things than needing to plug in a wireless or Bluetooth dongle. With its new wireless connectivity options, the Pi 3 opens itself up to be a low-cost hub for Internet of Things devices as well as making it easier for makers to create more common devices we use today, such as home media streamers.

Perhaps the best news of all is that the Raspberry Pi 3 is available immediately and for only $35, the same price as it predecessor.

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