Everyone’s favorite micro-computer is getting an update today. The Raspberry Pi Foundation chose Pi Day to unveil the latest upgrade to the hugely popular single-board computer, the new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. This model includes several useful improvements over the old Model B, but it keeps the same $35 price point.
The Raspberry Pi is designed to be cheap and efficient, so it’s never been a processing powerhouse. All versions of the computer use low-power ARM chips, but the Model B+ (See on Amazon) gets an upgraded Broadcom-designed ARM chip. It has four Cortex A53 CPU cores clocked at 1.4GHz instead of 1.2GHz, and a new head spreader keeps the chip cooler.
The faster chip should actually use a little less power thanks to improved efficiency, and it can remain at full operating frequency for longer. It throttles down to 1.2GHz only when operating temperatures reach 70 degrees Celsius or higher. The clock speed drops down further after temperatures hit 80 degrees, but that shouldn’t happen under normal circumstances.
A faster ARM chip is nice, but the connectivity improvements will likely be the main selling point of this upgrade. The Model B+ gets support for dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi thanks to a Cypress CYW43455 chip. There’s also a new PCB antenna similar to the one introduced on the cheaper Raspberry Pi Zero. The Model B+ has better 2.4 and 5GHz performance. Whereas the Model B could reach 35.6 Mbps over 2.4GHz, the Model B+ increases it to 46.3 Mbps. On 5GHz, it can hit 102 Mbps.
Wired connectivity is getting a nice boost as well. The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ has support for Gigabit Ethernet, although the actual throughput is limited by the USB 2.0 bus. It can still reach speeds of 315 Mbps, more than three times faster than the 95 Mbps possible with the old Model B. You also get Power over Ethernet (PoE) via HAT add-on boards that connect to a new four-pin connector. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is planning to launch a PoE HAT soon that generates the necessary 5V power from the 48V PoE supply.
The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ still has a full-sized HDMI port, four USB ports, and an audio jack. You can load an operating system via the included microSD card slot. The new board is still compatible with all existing Raspberry Pi 3 accessories, and it’s still just $35. Retailers are already getting stock. The Foundation isn’t planning to discontinue the older models, but it’s considering a new “entry-level” A-series board with some features from the Model B+.
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