The phenomenally successful Raspberry Pi microcomputer received its first major upgrade today, with the new Raspberry Pi B+ adding new ports and reducing its already tiny power requirement. The original Model B -- just a tiny board that can output to an HD display and runs on free software -- sold over 2 million units and inspired a boom in hobbyist home computing projects.
The new B+ is available to buy today from suppliers element 14 and RS Components. It's the same price as the original B: $35 plus tax. That works out to £27 in the UK, and around AU$41 in Australia. None of these prices include postage, or any cables or accessories, not even a case -- what you see in the picture above is what you get.
So what's new? Not that much, in truth, with the Raspberry Pi Foundation describing it as "the final evolution of the original Raspberry Pi." The main addition is two extra USB ports, bringing it up to four, allowing for more input methods and cheap storage. You can now, for example, connect a keyboard, a mouse, a Wi-Fi dongle and a 2.5-inch hard drive all at once, making the Pi much more of a feasible mini PC.
Speaking of storage, the original's SD card has been shrunk to the now more commonly used microSD, which supplier element 14 says is to help protect the card and clean up the board design. The system's 512MB RAM and Broadcom chip remain the same.
The GPIO board, used by enterprising Pi fans to input data from sensors such as thermometers, has been extended to 40 pins. This increases the potential number of connected sensors, so you could add more cameras to a home security system, for example.
The Foundation promises lower power consumption with the new board, a minimum of 600mA at 5V, down from 750mA. The audio circuit's new dedicated power supply should ensure less noise, too, and composite video is now handled by the audio jack doing double duty (but will require an adaptor, which element 14 promised me would go on sale next week).
Four new mounting holes, along with the board's neater design and curved edges, should make building the board into cases even easier.
"We've been blown away by the projects that have been made possible through the original B boards and, with its new features, the B+ has massive potential to push the boundaries and drive further innovation," said Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton. "We are really looking forward to continuing our relationship with element14 and ensuring widespread adoption of the new board."
Here's Upton and director of hardware James Adams introducing the new board (with bonus corpsing at the end):
If you're in London today, 14 July, you can get your hands on the new B+ at promo events on Westminster Bridge at 12pm and Tower Bridge at 1.30pm, where element 14 will be giving away 100 free boards -- and ice creams. You'll need a code word from element 14's Twitter account.
The original Model B will remain on sale, Upton explains, mainly for industrial customers who've designed products around the older system.