The Raspberry Pi Model B was a hugely successful product, displacing hundreds of thousands of devices and becoming an important platform for computer science education. school. And it just got a much-needed update.

The new configuration of the Raspberry Pi Model B is known as Model B+ and will be sold at the same time as the older model for the exact same price of $35. It represents a major (and final) update to the aging Model B before it is eventually replaced with a brand new board.

So what has changed, and why should you care? Well, let’s talk about the same first. The processor is the same aging Broadcom BCM2835 chip running at 700 MHz. It also comes with the same amount of system memory — a reasonable cost of 512MB.

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

USB inputs, power efficiency and external storage

Let’s start by talking about the least sexual changes. USB ports. Don’t worry This is where things get a lot more interesting.

The B+ model now has four USB ports, which means you can finally ditch that bulky external USB hub. If necessary, you can connect your WiFi adapter, keyboard, mouse, and some external storage.

Now you can also supply up to 1.2A per port. That should be enough to support whatever keyboard, mouse, or external wireless card you throw at it.

bplus board

Speaking of energy efficiency, the B+ consumes far less electricity than ever before. While the earlier model used 750mA in operation, the newer model uses a meager 600mA. This is due to a fundamental change in how the Raspberry Pi B+ handles power management, as well as a so-called «switching regulator».

This component makes better use of all the energy provided to it and spends very little. This makes the B+ much more efficient than earlier models, although don’t expect it to make a huge difference to your energy bills.

Another significant change is the removal of the full-sized SD card port, which has been replaced by a microSD slot.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

It also makes sense for the Raspberry Pi foundation. For a while, they distributed their Linux Raspberry Pi distribution — New Out Of Box Software, or NOOBS — as a MicroSD card, complete with an SD card reader. They were actually able to transfer people to a new medium without much fuss.

GPIO Improvements

Raspberry Pi B and A come with 26 general purpose pins (GPIOs). which allowed users to create interesting «Internet of Things» type projects with their microcomputers. The new iteration of the Raspberry Pi expands on this functionality. There is now a huge 40-pin GPIO offering, allowing users to create larger, higher quality designs.

bplus-GPIO

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

aesthetics

Other changes are more minor. There are now four attachment points on the Raspberry Pi B+. It’s kind of like a double-edged sword, since the odds for Pi B models are older and A won’t fit. However, this means that it is now much easier to make — or 3D print — cases for the new board. There are several stunningly beautiful cases of beautiful cases of beautiful cases already available for older boards. It would be interesting to see if they move any of them to B+.

We already mentioned the new microSD slot. This is significantly more compact than the old full size SD slots. The USB ports are now more snug on the board and don’t hang too much. They pretty much even come with an Ethernet port.

Plus Change Change…

A lot has changed with the B+ model, but a lot of bugs with the original boards remain. Ethernet is still horrendously slow and is connected to the board via an inadequate USB controller. Many hoped that the new edition would fix this, but alas, no such luck.

bplus-b

It also came as a surprise that the processor powering the B+ is the same processor as the original Model A. As is often the case in the tech world, this has been overshadowed many times by newer, faster, more power efficient chips. launch of new, better versions of the ARM specification.

It’s safe to say that if the Raspberry Pi Foundation releases a new version of the board, it will include more performance-oriented changes, including a faster processor and more RAM.

B+, gotta try

B+ does not represent a quantum leap for the Raspberry Pi. It’s definitely not a general purpose computing system (although some people use it as such). Although Pi never existed. It was a platform for experimentation. For study. For hacking.

In this regard, the B+ is a welcome improvement. However, many players, including myself, hoped for more radical changes. Possibly in a later version.

As always, I really want to hear what you think. Let me know what you think. Will you get one? Comment box below.

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

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