Today the Raspberry Pi model B+ is officially announced. It’s a well polished upgrade of the previous model B rev 2. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one a bit early, so had time to examine, photograph, video and briefly try out the new Pi model B+ with HDMIPi.
Here’s what it looks like…
What’s New? What’s Changed?
The processor and board size are the same, but there are lots of changes. We now have…
- a metal micro SD card slot on the back. Having previously broken (and fixed) two of the plastic ones, I am delighted about this. If you were wondering why the official Swag Store NOOBS cards are micro-SD cards with an SD adaptor, now you know!
- a newly designed power circuit (A) with an efficient switching regulator. This means that if you’re running your Pi from batteries, you’ll be able to use it for longer between charges/replacement. If you’re not, it should use a bit less power, which is a good thing.
- composite video and audio combined (B) into a single socket. We now have a 4-pole 3.5mm socket that does the job of both composite video and stereo analog audio sockets from the model B. It’s much more compact and elegant than the previous solution. The analog audio quality has been improved as well.
- 4 USB ports onboard (C). Instead of the previous 2. This pretty much eliminates the need for a powered hub. Massive improvement.
- 40 GPIO pins (D) (up from 26) with 9 new GPIO ports, 2 DNC pins and 3 new GND pins. The P5 header is gone.
- Cables only on 2 sides now. Composite, audio and power have all been moved to the same side as the HDMI port. So two sides of the Pi now don’t have cables coming out of them.
- Better tolerance to low voltages. Many people had issues early on with inadequate power supplies. These should almost disappear now (apart from perhaps with some USB peripherals.) Also, it didn’t reboot when I hot-swapped a USB keyboard dongle. :)
- 4 mount holes. Rev 2 Pi had 2 holes, but they were not ‘officially’ mount holes. These are.
- Rounded corners. It still doesn’t fit in an Altoids tin without major surgery, but who really cares?
- A slightly smaller overall footprint because the USB ports don’t stick out much over the edge of the board.
It’s Still The Same Price (RRP)
The recommended retail price is still $35 + shipping and local taxes. Considering all the enhancements, it’s great that they’ve managed to keep the price down to this level.
Here’s a Video Walkround
Will My Add-ons Still Work?
Yes they will. Rather cleverly, they’ve kept the top 26 pins exactly the same for backward compatibility. But even cleverer than that, the next two are the DNC (Do Not Connect) pins, which are used for ID EEPROM only. What this means is that, if your add-on board protrudes just a bit, like the RasPiO® Breakout…
…those two DNC pins are covered and no usable pins are blocked. Since a lot of boards will be like this, I think it was a genius placement of the DNC pins (where they’re least useful).
A few of the more complex and larger add-ons will not physically fit because of the new positioning of the ethernet and USB ports relative to the GPIO header. I’m thinking specifically of the Wolfson audio card (which uses the now deleted P5 header) and any ‘full-size’ boards that don’t have an extended header lifting them above the USB/ethernet ports.
What About the Pinouts?
Here’s a schematic showing the GPIO pinouts (click it to enlarge)…
Another New Addition to the Raspberry Pi Family
So in the history of the Raspberry Pi so far, major board releases have been…
- Model B rev 1 (Feb 2012)
- Model B rev 2 (Sep 2012)
- Model A (Feb 2013)
- Compute Module (June 2014)
- Model B+ (July 2014)
Here’s a shot of the whole family together…
It’s A Major Improvement
In my opinion, the new Raspberry Pi model B+ is a really well thought out upgrade. Congratulations to Gordon, James and the team for making so many improvements. I gather this has been worked on, quietly, for the best part of a year.
It’s hard to see how the hardware could be improved much further now without starting again from scratch with a new(er) system-on-a-chip (SoC). I expect that will happen one day, some way off in the future. But for now, let’s enjoy our greatly improved Raspberry Pi model B+. What do you think of the improvements and which is your favourite?