The Raspberry Pi foundation has just announced the Raspberry Pi B+. The short version is - better spec and the same price.
The Raspberry Pi has been an unimaginable success. You might have thought that it would sell a million if you waited long enough but the number currently stands at 2 million and that equates to a turnover of 1 Million Pis a year.,
The Pi might be successful but there is always room for improvement. The new Raspberry Pi B+ isn't a radical redesign - more an evolutionary tweak.
The basic specs haven't changed much, same BC2835 and 512MB of RAM and the $35 price tag.
Take a look at the official launch video:
The Raspberry Pi blog sums up the changes as:
More GPIO. The GPIO header has grown to 40 pins, while retaining the same pinout for the first 26 pins as the Model B.
More USB. We now have 4 USB 2.0 ports, compared to 2 on the Model B, and better hotplug and overcurrent behavior.
Micro SD. The old friction-fit SD card socket has been replaced with a much nicer push-push micro SD version.
Lower power consumption. By replacing linear regulators with switching ones we’ve reduced power consumption by between 0.5W and 1W.
Better audio. The audio circuit incorporates a dedicated low-noise power supply.
Neater form factor. We’ve aligned the USB connectors with the board edge, moved composite video onto the 3.5mm jack, and added four squarely-placed mounting holes.
The really good news is that the GPIO has been expanded in a backward compatible way. You can still plug your existing GPIO headers and cables into the left-hand end of the new 40-pin plug without having to make any changes.
The new GPIO has some interesting features. As well as some additional general purpose lines there are two designated for use with I2C EEPROM. When the Pi boots it will look for custom EEPROMs on these lines and optionally use them to load Linux drivers or setup expansion boards. What this means is that expansion boards can now include identity chips that, when the board is connected, configures the Pi to make use of them - no more manual customization. Of course we will have to wait for board manufacturers to make the necessary changes.
The other nice features are the four USB sockets, making it possible to have a keyboard, mouse and WiFi dongle without the need for a hub and still have one USB connection left over.
The micro SD socket means that no longer will we have to go though the common, but ludicrous, act of putting a micro SD into a full size adaptor and then plugging it in. A micro SD is also more physically part of the hardware for embedded applications.
Reducing the power consumption by 0.5 to 1W is going to be something that keeps the technical forums busy. The problem of powering a Pi from batteries is challenging and dropping the average 2W power consumption to 1W or even 1.5W will increase battery life, but probably not enough for many applications. The actually power consumption of a Pi depends on what you have connected to it, what it is doing and what measures you have taken to turn off hardware you are not using. However, the power consumption reduction does bring the model B into the same area as the lower power model A.
Finally, it looks as if case manufacturers are going to have to retool. The overall board is the same size but the connectors are very different. The four holes in the PCB mean that you can mount the Pi without needing to invent custom clips for the board - in particular it means you can put the Pi into an off the shelf wall mounting box.
Apparently the original model B will be kept in production as long as there is a demand.
You can order the B+ immediately from the usual sources.
There is currently no word on what will happen to the much simpler model A.