The new Raspberry Pi 2 uses a quad core ARMv7 processor and 1gb of memory compared to the Raspberry Pi B+ which has a single ARMv6 processor and 512mb of memory. All other features are the same to retain compatability with the projects and software that have already been developed by the millions of Raspberry Pi enthusiasts around the world.
Though the Raspberry Pi was not designed to be fast, it was good enough but demanding users always want faster bigger better. In general using the desktop, web browsers media players will be more responsive. Many of the applications available on Raspbian worked but were sluggish or unusabley slow so a RPI 2 should allow more Raspbian packages to perform at their best. And of course anybody developing their own projects have access to more power to add extra features and performance and get the best out of their tiny computer.
I often make timelapse videos using a Raspberry Pi B with a PIcamera. This generates lots of still images that are then converted into a video with the program AVconv. The Raspberry Pi B takes hours to convert the images to a video but it only takes a few minutes to do the conversion on a desktop PC. As a test I got a 512mb Raspberry PI to convert 500 still images to a video using AVconv. I then done the same test with a Raspberry Pi 2.
- Raspberry Pi B took 3 hrs 11 mins
- Raspberry Pi 2 took 8 min
As you can see that is a significant improvement, not only helped by the extra power of the Raspberry Pi 2 but also the extra memory. Other tasks won't have such a good performance gains between the two versions but this test shows that the RPI2 becomes more practical for some tasks that you would have to use a PC for.
With several other boards on the market offering more features and power than the Raspberry Pi B+ but for a lot more money, the Raspbery Pi 2 at the same price as the model B+ of £25 will help maintain the Raspberry Pi's popularity in the micro computer market.
Now that the Raspberry Pi 2 uses the ARMv7 the headline operating systems that will be available are a version of Windows 10 later in the year and the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution. Both will be interesting to see how they perform and how popular Windows will become with schools and users who are not so happy using Linux.
Find out more from the Raspberry Pi foundation here