The Raspberry Pi Foundation recently released a new and burlier version of its mini PC, the Raspberry Pi 4, with a faster processor and up to 4GB of RAM. If you purchased one (or plan to), be aware that there is already a new firmware build available that could potentially improve performance in certain situations.
"Following a successful trial with our alpha testers, we are releasing a new firmware build for the USB3 host adapter that should save about 300mW and help the Pi4 to run cooler, which in turn improves performance in compute-intensive tasks," The Raspberry Pi Foundation said.
As PC builders know, heat is the enemy of performance, and the Raspberry Pi 4 is no exception. The folks at CNX Software performed some testing with the new firmware before it was made available to the public, and found that it does indeed make a difference.
Specifically, the site saw a 3-4C drop in temps with the new firmware. That may not sound like much, but performance also improved, as the Raspberry Pi 4 did not throttle as quickly.
In the site's 7-Zip benchmark, for example, the Raspberry Pi yielded the following scores:
- Raspberry Pi 4 old firmware + heatsink—5,397 points
- Raspberry Pi 4 old firmware w/o heatsink—4,423 points
- Raspberry Pi 4 new firmware w/o heatsink—5,298 points
With the new firmware installed, performance without a heatsink nearly matched the old firmware with a heatsink. That's impressive. At the same time, CNX Software said that while the first two benchmark runs matched the results of the heatsink score, the third run trailed off to just under 5,000 points, "so for full load under an extended period of time a heatsink is still recommended."
That's only a single benchmark, but the results are in line with what The Raspberry Pi Foundation claims the new firmware is supposed to do.
You can grab the new firmware here.