If you look closely at the new Raspberry Pi 5, you’ll see the latest member of the in-house chip family developed by Raspberry Pi LTD known as the RP1. This new Southbridge chip has been in development for quite some time and has evolved in purpose since its initial conception. Costing over half of the $25 million project budget, RP1 has been in progress since the Raspberry Pi 2 was released. Today, the RP1 is responsible for quite a few critical tasks like providing GPIO and USB interfaces, a Gigabit Ethernet controller, and MIPI transceivers.
By separating these functions from the main processor, the end result is faster performance all around for the various interfaces it supports. You can expect faster network speeds, better USB transfer speeds and even a boost for the microSD support. This chip was also an opportunity to make the most of the new PCIe support—with this port, users can add storage, TPU devices for machine learning, Ethernet bridges and more.
There’s a post on the Raspberry Pi website detailing the specs and story behind the RP1 chip. In it, we get a close look at a cool breakout board connected to a Pi 5. This board isn’t available to purchase nor is it intended to be a product. Rather, this board is a development tool used by the engineers at the Raspberry Pi Foundation to explore the new RP1 and put it to the test.
The development board is a large PCIe based card with multiple ports for oscilloscopes / multimeters, a serial connector, Ethernet and multiple USB ports. There are also more GPIO headers on the board. The development board connects to the development Raspberry Pi 5 via an onboard PCIe interface, something that Jeff Geerling would love to get his hands on.
The development Raspberry Pi 5 has a classic "Pacman" silkscreen, something that Raspberry Pi engineers have done for many years.
If you want to learn more about the specs that make up the latest Raspberry Pi, check out our review of the Raspberry Pi 5 and be sure to dig into the interview with James Adams for an in-depth look at the new RP1 chip. We will also have Adams as a guest on October 24 edition of our show The Pi Cast.
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Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.