If you thought the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B couldn’t get any better with it’s added horsepower and wireless capabilities, it has had yet another overhaul and has improved even further in many departments. All whilst staying at the same (or similar) price point as the previous model B.
It has a faster 64bit 1.4GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, faster dual-band 802.11 b/g/n/ac wireless LAN, Bluetooth 4.2, and significantly faster Gigabit Ethernet reaching 300Mbit/s.
The footprint and form factor is still the same, with all ports in the same place as before. All previous third-party cases, mountings, and other add-ons will still fit this new model, allowing you to upgrade with minimum hassle.
Here is the full specification:
- 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU (BCM2837)
- VideoCore IV multimedia/3D graphics core @ 400MHz/300MHz
- 1GB RAM (LPDDR2 SDRAM)
- On-board wireless LAN – dual-band 802.11 b/g/n/ac (CYW43455)
- On-board Bluetooth 4.2 HS low-energy (BLE) (CYW43455)
- 4 x USB 2.0 ports
- 300Mbit/s Gigabit Ethernet
- PoE support via a Raspberry Pi PoE HAT board
- 40 GPIO pins
- HDMI 1.3a port (full sized)
- 3.5mm analog audio and composite video combo jack
- Camera interface (CSI)
- Display interface (DSI)
- microSD slot
One of the first things you notice on the revised B+ board is the addition of a small heatsink/heat-spreader on the Broadcom chip. Thermal performance has been improved, likely contributing to the 17% increase in chip speed over the previous model B (which ran at 1.2GHz).
Video performance on the B+ is similar to the previous model B, with the VideoCore clocked at 400MHz for video processing and the 3D graphics processor clocked at 300MHz.
A significant change on the B+ is the inclusion of a new faster, dual-band wireless chip (CYW43455) with 802.11 b/g/n/ac wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.2.
The chip antenna has disappeared and been replaced with a PCB antenna design as used on the Zero W, hopefully bringing improvements with signal strength and wireless power.
The other change is that there is a big square aluminium shield stamped with the Raspberry Pi logo covering the networking components. This is the Pi’s new RF shield, and it allows the B+ to meet the FCC’s modular conformance requirements. For companies looking to integrate the Raspberry Pi into their IoT products, this greatly shortens the testing process for FCC approval, allowing for a speedier time-to-market.
The wired network connectivity has benefited from an upgrade, with the LAN9514 integrated 4-port USB 2.0 hub and 10/100 Ethernet IC having been swapped out for a LAN7515, which integrates a 6-port USB 2.0 hub (4x usable) with a 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet port. It won’t reach gigabit speeds because of the USB 2.0 bus, but expect to get 300Mbit/s (quoted by the foundation themselves) – at least a 300% increase on the model B. Other new
- 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet
- Jumbo frame support, upto 9KB
- Multiple automatic power saving modes
All of which should benefit network-centric applications. For example, jumbo frame support will be welcomed by those seeking network performance when using network attached storage (NAS), with the Pi as a server.
There is also a new 4-pin header on the board, labelled PoE. This is to be used in conjunction with a Raspberry Pi PoE HAT board, and opens up more possibilities for powering and networking the board conveniently, especially for IoT projects.
On the surface, we have improved speed and networking. The board has had a few changes to improve heat dissipation, RF shielding, wireless signal/strength, and also the new PoE functionality.
This shouldn’t be all that impressive, but taken together, the handful of minor upgrades combine to form a noticeably improved experience. In particular, the speed boost to networking makes certain operations much less of a chore than with previous Raspberry Pi devices.
In terms of value for money however, it’s simply unbeatable. Even if the B+ doesn’t constitute a great leap forward for the Pi, it’s a refinement of an already-excellent device. You get a lot of bang for your buck.