The 64-bit Raspberry Pi OS is now available for users of the Raspberry Pi 3 and Pi 4 - Raspberry Pi Projects, Tutorials, Learning DIY Electronics - Makergenix

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The 64-bit Raspberry Pi OS is now available for users of the Raspberry Pi 3 and Pi 4

In mid-2020, Raspberry Pi released a beta of its 64-bit version of its Debian-based operating system alongside the then-new 8GB Raspberry Pi 4.

According to Raspberry Pi, the Raspberry Pi OS 64-bit beta has officially achieved stable after one and a half years.

Raspberry Pi Imager tool

The Pi 3 was the first Raspberry Pi with a 64-bit CPU, therefore it's been feasible to run a 64-bit OS from its 2016 introduction, but Raspberry Pi has persisted with a 32-bit OS (previously known as Raspbian) for backward compatibility.

"We've been testing a beta of Raspberry Pi OS in beautiful 64-bit for the past year. It's now time to make it available to a larger audience "Gordon Hollingworth, the creator of the Raspberry Pi, said as much.

According to him, application compatibility is a "major consideration" in choosing a 64-bit OS over a 32-bit one.

ModelProcessorArm CoreDebian / Raspbian ARM Port (Maximum)Architecture Width
Raspberry Pi 1BCM2835ARM1176arm6hf32 bit
Raspberry Pi 2BCM2836Cortex-A7arm6hf32 bit
Raspberry Pi ZeroBCM2835ARM1176arm6hf32 bit
Raspberry Pi Zero 2BCM2710Cortex-A53arm6464 bit
Raspberry Pi 3BCM2710Cortex-A53arm6464 bit
Raspberry Pi 4 / 400BCM2711Cortex-A72arm6464 bit

He goes on to say that the A64 Armv8 instruction set has certain "intrinsic" performance gains. These improvements are largely visible in benchmarks for now, but Hollingworth expects they will eventually become real-world application speed improvements.

Another "theoretical worry" was that 32-bit pointers could only target 4GB of memory, which wasn't ideal considering that the Raspberry Pi 4 may have up to 8GB of RAM. However, as Hollingworth points out, few applications today necessitate the utilization of all 8GB of accessible memory by a single process.

In actuality, the Pi 4 can access up to 8GB of RAM via the ARM Large Physical Address Extension (LPAE), but each process is limited to 3GB, with the top 1GB of the virtual address space reserved for the kernel.

The Raspberry Pi Imager now offers both a "full" 64-bit desktop OS with suggested programmes and a "light" OS version without such applications. While the 32-bit Raspberry Pi OS is still "preferred," the 64-bit versions may be found in Raspberry Pi OS's "other" section.

According to Hollingworth, the 64-bit version of Chromium lacks the WidevineCDM library, which means it can't play streaming video like Netflix or Disney+.


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