The Raspberry Pi hardware has included a 64-bit processor since the Pi 3 launched in early 2016, but the Raspberry Pi operating system (formerly known as Raspbian) has remained primarily 32-bit. However, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has been testing a 64-bit version of the OS since 2020, and today the organization announced that the 64-bit version is leaving beta and is now a fully supported OS option on all 64-bit Pi hardware. This includes the Pi 3, Pi 4, Pi Zero 2 W and all its variants.
The main advantage of the 64-bit switch is software compatibility, since, as the Pi Foundation notes, “many closed-source applications are only available for ARM64,” and open source apps aren’t always fully optimized for the instruction set that the 32-bit switch provides. bits of Pi operating system.
The Pi Foundation post also talks about the performance benefits of 64-bit ARM processors and the underlying ARMv8 instruction set, but notes that these benefits are “most visible in benchmarks right now.” It also mentions the ability for individual processes to address more than 4 GB of RAM, although the Large Physical Address Extension (LPAE) feature already gives each individual process in the 32-bit Pi OS access to 3 GB of memory.
At the time of writing, only two versions of the 64-bit Pi OS image are available: the “Lite” version, which has no preinstalled desktop environment or apps, and the version with the desktop and a bare minimum of apps preinstalled. -installed. The “desktop with recommended apps” version of the operating system isn’t yet available in 64-bit, so you’ll have to install things like LibreOffice and your favorite development tools yourself. The 64-bit versions of the images are actually a bit smaller in file size than their 32-bit counterparts, presumably because they don’t have to support the full range of Pi hardware like the 32-bit images.
The 32-bit version of the Raspberry Pi OS image isn’t going away, and it continues to be supported on both 32- and 64-bit Pi devices for anyone who prefers or needs it: old Pi and Pi 2 boards with 32 bit processors remain fully supported. You should also stick with the 32-bit version if you’re using the “legacy” version of the Raspberry Pi operating system, which still uses Debian 10 (“Buster”) as the base instead of the newer Debian 11 (“Bullseye” ).
All Raspberry Pi OS images can be downloaded from the Pi Foundation website.