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The Raspberry Pi Model B has been a hugely successful product, having shifted hundreds of thousands of units, and becoming an important platform for the education of computer science 6 Amazing Ways The Raspberry Pi Is Making A Difference 6 Amazing Ways The Raspberry Pi Is Making A Difference I'll try to avoid techno-babble words like "disruptive" when I say this, but there's no denying - Raspberry Pi is changing the world. Read More in schools. And it’s just received a much needed upgrade.

The new configuration of the Raspberry Pi Model B is known as the Model B+, and will be sold concurrently with the older model at exactly the same price point of $35. It represents a major (and the last) upgrade of the aging Model B, before it eventually gets replaced with an entirely new board.

So, what’s changed, and why should you care? Well, let’s first talk about what’s the same. The CPU is the same aging Broadcom BCM2835 chip, clocked at 700MHZ. It also comes with the same amount of system memory – a reasonable 512mb’s worth.

Like its older brethren, it also lacks any onboard storage. So what’s different? Read on for more information.

USB Inputs, Power Efficiency and External Storage

Let’s start off by talking about the least sexiest change. USB ports. Don’t worry. It gets way more interesting from here.

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The model B+ now has four USB ports, meaning that you can finally throw away that bulky external USB hub. You can connect your WiFi dongle, keyboard, mouse and some external storage if need be.

You can now also provide up to 1.2 amps of electricity to each port. This should be enough to support any keyboard, mouse or external wireless card you throw at it.

bplus-board

Speaking of power efficiency, the B+ sucks up far less electricity than ever before. Whilst the earlier model used 750mA when running, the new one uses a meager 600mA. This is due to a fundamental change in how the Raspberry Pi B+ handles power management, and also a little something called a ‘switching regulator’.

This component makes better use of all energy provided to it, and wastes very little. This makes the B+ far more efficient than earlier models, although don’t expect it to make a significant dent on your power bills.

Another significant change is the ditching of the full-sized SD card port, which has been replaced with a MicroSD slot. This change has freed up space on the board for additional USB ports.

It also makes sense for the Raspberry Pi foundation. For a while now, they’ve been distributing their Raspberry Pi tailored linux distro – New Out Of Box Software, or NOOBS – as a MicroSD card, bundled with an SD card reader. They’ve effectively been able to move people over to the new storage medium without any real fuss.

GPIO Enhancements

The Raspberry Pi B and A came with 26 General Purpose Input/Output (GPIO) pins Getting Started With GPIO On a Raspberry Pi Getting Started With GPIO On a Raspberry Pi If you though the Arduino was cool, just wait till you get your hands on a Raspberry Pi - these things are amazing. As well as being a fully functional computer, they also have a... Read More , which allowed users to create interesting ‘Internet-of-Things’ What Is The Internet Of Things & How Will It Affect Our Future [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is The Internet Of Things & How Will It Affect Our Future [MakeUseOf Explains] It seems like there are new buzzwords popping up and dying off with each day that passes us by, and "the Internet of Things" just happens to be one of the more recent ideas that... Read More type projects with their micro-computers. The new iteration of the Raspberry Pi extends this functionality. There’s now a massive 40-pin GPIO offering, allowing users to build bigger and better projects.

bplus-gpio

It’s worth stressing that the first 26 pins on the new model are identical to the ones on the earlier Raspberry PI models. This means that it’s 100% backwards compatible with projects built for the B and A.

Aesthetics

Other changes are more marginal. There are now four mounting points on the Raspberry Pi B+. This is a bit of a double-edged sword, as odds are older cases for the Pi models B and A won’t fit it. However, it means that it’s now far easier to make – or 3D Print – cases for the new board. There are some stunningly beautiful cases The 8 Most Beautiful Raspberry Pi Cases The 8 Most Beautiful Raspberry Pi Cases There are a handful of designs which really give the Pi a unique look. And thankfully, these unique enclosures usually don’t much – most are available for $20 or less. Read More already available for the older boards. It’d be interesting to see if they any of them get ported to the B+.

We’ve already mentioned the new MicroSD slot. This is significantly more compact than the older, full sized SD slots. The USB ports now fit more snugly into the board, and don’t overhang by much. They’re pretty much even with the Ethernet port.

Plus Ça Change…

A lot has changed with the model B+, but a lot of bugbears with the original boards remains. Ethernet is still dreadfully slow, and is connected to the board through an inadequate USB controller. Many had hoped that a new revision would fix this, but alas, no such luck.

bplus-b

It also came as a surprise that the CPU powering the B+ is the exact same one that powered the original Model A. As is often the case in the technology world, this has been eclipsed many times over by newer, faster, more energy efficient chips running newer, better versions of the ARM spec.

It’s safe to say that if the Raspberry Pi foundation release a new version of the board, it’ll feature more performance-focused changes, including a faster CPU and more RAM.

B+, Must Try Harder

The B+ doesn’t represent a quantum leap for the Raspberry Pi. It’s definitely not a general purpose computing system (although, some people use it as such 8 Seriously Useful Computing Tasks You Can Do With a Raspberry Pi 8 Seriously Useful Computing Tasks You Can Do With a Raspberry Pi The amount of computing tasks that you can perform with this small 3.37 x 2.21-inch computer is jaw-dropping. Read More ). Although, the Pi never has been. It’s been a platform for experimentation. For learning. For hacking on.

In this respect, the B+ is a welcome improvement. However, many punters – myself included – had hoped for more drastic changes. Perhaps in a later version.

As always, I’m eager to hear what you think. Let me know your thoughts. Will you be getting one? Comments box is below.

Photo Credit: Raspberry Pi B (Raspberry-hardware.com), Raspberry B+ Board (Raspberry Pi Foundation)GPIO to RS232 (FAndrey)

 

  1. hank
    November 4, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Hi. I setup a debian based NAS on a B model with an external HDD last weekend.
    Now configuring it as a torrent client (seedbox) and a fileserver (Apache based) so I can always get to my files. All that on a little model B, and it seems to be keeping up so far...
    Quite an amazing machine, considering:
    1) its 35 euros
    2) this is the first thing Ive ever done with Linux!
    So dont knock the model B, its still capable of lots of stuff!

    • Matthew Hughes
      November 11, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      Not knocking it! I just don't think it's a massive leap forwards.

      Thanks!

  2. Christian C
    July 29, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Only found out about this today. Somehow I missed the RPi newsletter!

  3. nerp
    July 27, 2014 at 5:39 am

    Somehow to me it does not sound worth it. Id rather stick w my NORMAL model B.

    • Matthew H
      July 27, 2014 at 10:54 am

      Aye, if you've already got a Model B, it's worth hanging on to it. If you're new to the RasPi ecosystem, it might be worth getting the B+.

  4. Asshole
    July 26, 2014 at 1:40 am

    Yah. the composite video&Audio jack isn't very good. (I have to buy another converter and a special cable that my school uses)

    • Matthew H
      July 27, 2014 at 10:54 am

      I've never actually found the need to use audio with my RasPi, but doesn't it support HDMI audio?

    • Asshole
      July 27, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      I have a VGA monitor. :D

    • Asshole
      July 27, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      And I convert it with a VGA adapter

  5. ogman
    July 19, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Great article, as always. Sounds like it's actually worth waiting for the new board.

    • Matthew H
      July 27, 2014 at 10:53 am

      Thanks! Much appreciated man!

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