Using the 512MB Raspberry Pi

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It's always wonderful to wake up to a new piece of hardware at the doorstep. Even more so, if it arrives within 24 hours of placing the order.


Since it arrived so soon, I was wondering if it's the upgraded one with 512MB of RAM or just the older one with 256MB. And horror of horrors a cat /proc/meminfo showed it as the older one.

So on to the Internet. It seems many folks have been scratching their head wondering why their 512MB didn't show up as such. A few clicks later it appears the new board need the latest firmware which isn't yet available in the repos. But that's easily fixed.

Before trying out these instructions, make sure you have the latest Raspberry Pi board. The new board should have:

a. two mounting holes
b. and the words “4G” written somewhere in the string of characters scribbled on top of the Samsung mobile DRAM. Mine says K4P4G324EB-AGCI.


In case you are wondering that's 4G as in 4Gbits with equals 512MB. The older boards had 2G or 2Gbits which equals 256MB.

Once you are sure you have the latest boards, it's time to hook up the RPi, connect it to the Internet and fetch the latest firmware so that Rasbian (the Debian-based distro on the SDCARD) can see and use the extra memory.

To install the firmware you need the rpi-update script from GitHub.

First make sure you have the ca-certificates package:

$ sudo apt-get install ca-certificates

Now download the script and save it under /usr/bin:

$ sudo wget -O /usr/bin/rpi-update

Then make the script executable:

$ sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/rpi-update

Finally run the script to update the firmware:

$ sudo rpi-update

That's it! When you restart your RPi you can use the raspi-config script to set a different GPU/ARM memory split.

Psst: If you are wondering what to do with the RPi, check out the latest issue of Linux Format magazine for ideas to supercharge your Raspberry Pi.