Raspberry Pi gets overclocking firmware update

Raspberry Pi update

A new firmware update for the popular and cheap Raspberry Pi computer will allow users to overclock the chip and make it run at 1GHz.

The change, which increases performance of the computer by as much as 50 per cent, was announced by founder Eben Upton in a blog post.

"We've been doing a lot of work to understand the impact of voltage and temperature on lifetime, and are now able to offer a 'turbo mode', which dynamically enables overclock under the control of a cpufreq driver, without affecting your warranty," said Upton.

Turbo Mode dynamically enables overclock without affecting your warranty.

"We are happy the combination of only applying turbo when busy, and limiting turbo when the BCM2835s internal temperature reaches 85C, means there will be no measurable reduction in the lifetime of your Raspberry Pi."

Users can choose from one of five overclock presets in raspi-config, the highest of which runs the ARM at 1GHz. The normal chip speed is 700Mhz.

Upton said the level of stable overclock users can achieve will depend on the specific Pi and on the quality of the power supply used.

He added that Quake 3 is a good stress test for checking if a particular level is completely stable.

But Upton warned that too high an overclock could may cause Pi reboot failures , "in which case holding down the shift key during boot up will disable the overclock for that boot, allowing you to select a lower level," he said.

When comparing the 1GHz turbo Pi to a 700MHz configuration, nbench reports 52 per cent faster on integer, 64 per cent faster on floating point and 55 per cent faster on memory performance, said Upton.

The new firmware also supports certain types of Wi-Fi out of the box and has improved analogue audio as well as providing extra software pre-installed.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.