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RPi 2 vs RPi 3 Performance

April 9, 2016

Raspberry Pi 2

Raspberry Pi 2

Raspberry Pi 3

Raspberry Pi 3

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has offered a steady increase in performance for its wildly popular Raspberry Pi.  They’ve just released the Pi 3 in March, 2016.  In addition to performance enhancements, Pi 3 now comes with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth.

RPi 2  vs RPi 3 primary performance components:

RPi 2 B RPi 3 B
SoC: Broadcom BCM2836 Broadcom BCM2837
CPU 900 MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 4 x ARM ARM Cortex-A53 1.2 Ghz
RAM: 1 GB 1 GB

So just how much better performing is the RPi 3 model B compared to the RPi 2? To answer the question in terms we can better understand, MBTechWorks has performed some relative benchmarks.

One of the most noticeable characteristics of performance is navigation and usage of applications. It is frustrating to wait long periods while an application launches. Quick application launches and snappy navigation is one hallmark of good performance.

There are many factors that affect performance of any computer including CPU speed, CPU cores / processors, OS ability to process multiple threads, the storage I/O speed, memory, video GPU, and cache to name some of the more significant.

To more objectively measure performance (considering the many variables listed above), we compare the launch times and CPU utilization for many of the applications that come standard with the Raspbian operating system (the recommended OS by the Pi Foundation). While this may not be a rigorous comparison, it does provide a pretty good real-world benchmark for contrasting the performance differences. Finally, we include one synthetic benchmark using the Sysbench tool to give an idea of raw CPU power differences. Sysbench is configured to calculate2,000 prime numbers in each test, first using 1 thread, and then 4 threads.

Command line:  sudo sysbench  –test=cpu  –cpu-max-prime=2000  –num-threads=1   run .  Then repeated with num-threads=4.

Test Setup – both boards:

  • Overclocking:  None
  • Micro SD card:  Toshiba 8 GB Class 10, 30 MB/s
  • Operating System:  Raspbian version 4.1.18-v7+
  • Network connection:  None (network / internet response times vary and are not a good benchmark for computer board performance)
  • Video Connection:  HDMI
  • Board Voltage:   5v (as measured at power input to board)

All times are represented as minutes:seconds or just seconds if less than a minute.

RPi 2 RPi 3
Function Time CPU % Time CPU %
Raspbian Boot 1:05 34
Launch Python 3 5 40% 3 18%
Launch Scratch 4 22% 3 18%
Launch Sonic Pi 12 20% 17* 27%*
Sonic Pi – Play Bach Minuet G n/a 6% n/a 5%
Launch Mathmatica 31 25% 20 20%
Launch Wolfman 4 20% 3 12%
Launch Web Browser 3 23% 2 14%
Launch Minecraft 1 10% 1 5%
Minecraft Create new world 16 25% 11 25%
Launch Python Games 2 15% 2 11%
Launch Accessories Apps – all ~1 low ~ 1 low
Sysbench 1 Thread 32 25% 11 25%
Sysbench 4 Threads 8 100% 3.5 100%

Except for Sonic Pi, the Pi 3 is noticeably faster in every test – as one would expect.  Sonic Pi software has gone through revisions and updates, so I suspect it’s software is more robust and may explain the increased launch time.

The original Raspberry Pi 1 model B and B+, lacked in performance – however, for a $35 (US) computer board, few complained!  Now after several new Pi revisions, the performance of Pi 3 is impressive for a computer board that is still $35!

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