Recently, researchers at the University of Southampton used 64 Raspberry Pi computers and Lego to build a dirt cheap supercomputer. They even published a step-by-step guide for making a Raspberry Pi supercomputer (PDF) for those interested in emulating their feat. But we understand that making supercomputer clusters isn’t for everyone and that most Raspberry Pi owners would probably settle for something as unexciting as tweaking the config.txt file to overclock and overvolt its 700MHz ARM chip. Now, though, such people may have to look elsewhere for their kicks, as the Raspberry Pi Foundation (hereinafter referred to as the “Foundation”) has effectively taken the fun out of overclocking the Pi by announcing an official “turbo mode” for the credit card-sized computer.
While overclocking the Raspberry Pi, which began shipping in April, has always been very easy, the Foundation has discouraged overvolting, lest it shorten the life of the SoC. That is no longer the case, though, as the Foundation now claims to fully understand “the impact of voltage and temperature on lifetime [of the SoC].” It has now announced a turbo mode for the Pi, “which dynamically enables overclock and overvolt under the control of a cpufreq driver, without affecting your warranty.”
“You can now choose from one of five overclock presets in raspi-config, the highest of which runs the ARM at 1GHz,” the Foundation announced Wednesday. “What does this mean? Comparing the new image with 1GHz turbo enabled, against the previous image at 700MHz, nbench reports 52% faster on integer, 64% faster on floating point and 55% faster on memory.”
Apart from the turbo mode, the latest firmware packs a number of other improvements, including temperature and frequency widgets, out-of-box WiFi support, and improved analogue audio.