Author(s): Raghu Gopal
March 14, the day sometimes written as 3.14, is informally referred to as Pi Day. To celebrate the event this year, the Raspberry Pi Foundation released a faster and more feature-packed, low-cost open-faced, credit-card sized computer intended for DIY projects and educators. Like previous Pi generations, the new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ costs $35 (£32) demonstrating just how inexpensive and small computing power has become over the years.
Raspberry Pi Foundation released the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B a little more than two years ago. That was the organisation's first 64-bit computer and the first of its products to feature integrated wireless connectivity. The new Pi 3 Model B+ builds on its predecessor by adding a faster processor, support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 and faster Ethernet connections. It also gains support for Power over Ethernet (PoE) with a separate PoE add-on that will be available as an official accessory soon. The Model B+ can sustain higher performance for longer than previous models thanks to a new heat sink.
The Model B+ is powered by a 1.4 GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU, an advance on its predecessor's 1.2 GHz chip. The new device also sports connections up to 300 Mbps (three times the speed of previous boards) thanks to dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless connectivity and gigabit Ethernet over USB 2.0.
The new processor includes a heat spreader and additional power optimizations, which will allow the device to run longer without overheating, and decrease its power consumption. It's also the same size as its predecessor so in many case it can be swapped into the products that are powered by older Raspberry Pi models without any problems.
Like earlier models, the new board has a full-size HDMI port for display output, as well as four USB 2.0 ports, a microSD slot for storing data and running the operating system, and connectors for attaching peripherals such as a camera and a touch-screen display. The dual-band Wi-Fi included on the board comes with modular compliance certification, making it easier to integrate the new Pi into end products without having to do a lot of testing and certification.
Since its first board PC was introduced five years ago, the Raspberry Pi has gained widespread adoption as a platform for microcomputer enthusiasts, prototype developers and educators all over the world. It has become a staple in some parts of the Internet of things market for prototyping and proof-of-concept systems. The new model is a solid upgrade for both personal and business projects, and is already available from most stockists.
In addition to enabling creativity, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has also demonstrated how inexpensive, compact and ubiquitous computing has become. At the cost of a few cups of coffee, consumers can buy a real computer more powerful than many of us would have imagined owning just a few decades ago, supporting the expansion of Moore's Law. Getting so much PC in such a small package for such a low price makes the new Pi a pretty sweet deal.