The B+ uses the same SoC (system on a chip) as used in the Model A and B. This may be a disappointment to some people but changing it would have been a drastic move by the Foundation. The B+ is an evolution on the original concept and maintaining the same CPU/GPU combination ensures compatibility with current software. There are people who might say it “needs more power” but that depends on exactly what you think the Pi is for. There will be a more powerful Pi at some point but that isn’t likely for another a few years.
The MicroUSB port has been moved from the left side of the PCB to the lower edge. This will help tidy up the cabling to the device as it now shares the same side of the board with the HDMI and Audio ports. The power regulator has been redesigned and helps lower the power consumption. The infamous silver ‘C6′ capacitor has been removed.
There are now four USB ports. This is great news for lots of users as it means you can plug in a mouse, keyboard and WiFi dongle without the need for a hub. This means a cheaper setup with less cables for some owners. The downside is the extra USB stack changes the physical shape of the Pi. This impacts some addon boards which extended to that side of the board. In my tests those boards usually still work but they don’t lay quite as flat as they did before.
The GPIO header now has 40 pins. The first 26 are exactly the same as the Model B so addon boards using those pins should work just fine. 26-way ribbon cables may not fit as the connector ends are wider than the pin spacing. The extra 14 pins provide 3 ground pins and 9 GPIO pins. That’s now a total of 26 pins that can be configured as inputs and outputs. Good news for hardware hackers!
The P5 header was introduced on the Revision 2 boards. It has now been removed. Many users may not have even noticed it was there but a number of addon boards made use of it. Those boards will not work on the B+ as a result.
SD Card Slot
The plastic push-fit slot has been replaced with a metal MicroSD push-click slot. This is smaller, neater and hopefully more robust. It’s a bit of a shame for me as I had recently increased my collection of standard sized SD cards, but going forward this is a worthwhile update.
The composite video port has been removed but the video signal is still available in an upgraded 4-pole 3.5mm jack which also carries left and right audio as before. The 4-pole jacks are popular on other media devices such as camcorders so some users may already have cables which they can use straight away. This may come as an annoyance to users happily using normal composite leads but the 4-pole cables are cheap and easy to obtain. In addition the audio circuitry has been improved so overall audio quality should be better.
The Ethernet port now has two LEDs indicating network activity. Previously these network activity indicators were on the opposite corner of the PCB with the red power LED.
The B+ now has four mounting holes in a more logical layout. This is much better for those who want to mount the Pi on a solid base or inside an enclosure. Some addon boards used one of the two mounting holes to attach a plastic pillar to support their PCB. This hole is no longer present so those mounting pillars will not work as before.
The price is the same as the Model B.
Cases and Enclosures
Due to the physical layout changes the B+ will need redesigned cases and some addons may not fit. I don’t mind too much as I would have needed to buy a new case for a new Pi anyway. It doesn’t matter if it is a new design. Retailers have been quick to release new cases at sensible prices so there is no big wait unlike some of the larger tech companies out there.
In general the B+ should be compatible with lots of the existing Pi infrastructure. Tutorials, guides, scripts, addons etc. This is an extremely important situation to be in if for those who have created resources, book and teaching materials. If you are in any doubt about this ask on the Official Raspberry Pi Forums. Someone will almost certainly be able to help out.
Update Your OS
The B+ has a new Ethernet/USB chip. In order to make sure your existing Model B SD cards work (assuming they are MicroSD cards!) you must update them using ‘sudo apt-get update’ and ‘sudo apt-get upgrade’ so that you pick up the latest kernel that includes support for this chip. Once you’ve done this, or are using an SD image released after June 2014, you are ready for action.
5 Big Advantages
These 5 advantages out-weigh any other issues :
- More USB ports
- More GPIO pins
- More mounting holes
- Lower power consumption
- Higher quality SD card slot
Raspberry Pi Model B+ Details