Raspberry Pi announces lower power Model B+ with four USB ports and improved audio

When Raspberry Pi launched two years ago, it was supposed to be an educational tool — a small, cheap computer capable of running a basic OS that children could use to learn to code. The device exploded in the enthusiast market as DIYers created exciting new use cases using a range of operating systems, including Android.

Since then we’ve seen several iterations of first generation Raspberry Pi hit the market but today brings a new model, one that the Raspberry Pi Foundation is calling the ‘final evolution’ of the Raspberry Pi 1.0. Called Raspberry Pi Model B+, it adds some pretty significant hardware upgrades.

First of all, they’re doubling up on the USB ports, bumping the B+ up to four ports compared to the two on the old version, which should help with overcurrent and hotplug behaviour. They’ve also replaced the old friction-fit SD card socket with a push-push Micro SD slot for easy ejection. Additionally, users can expect lower power consumption (between 0.5W and 1W less than the previous model) thanks to new switching regulators, and a dedicated low-noise PSU promises improved audio quality.

The folks at Raspberry Pi have also expanded the GPIO (General Purpose Input Output) to 40 pins, and retained the same pinout for first 26 pins as the old Model B. Other than those changes, the Model B+ has the same Broadcom BCM2835 SoC with a 700 MHz Low Power ARM1176JZFS CPU running along side a VideoCore IV Multimedia Co-Processor and 512 MB of RAM.

Despite all of the aforementioned upgrades and a new, more compact form factor (85 x 56 x 17mm compared to 85.6 x 53.98 x 17mm), the Model B+ isn’t going to be more expensive than the previous ten Model B. That makes sense, considering it’s supposed to be a natural evolution of the first-gen board and not a completely new version, but there’s no evidence of a price drop for the old Model B, which is confusing. Especially since the Raspberry Pi Foundation plans to continue to produce and sell the older model while there’s still demand, as opposed to phase it out and replace it with the Model B+.

The Raspberry Pi Model B+ is available today for $35. It hasn’t yet hit Amazon.ca but is available via Farnell/element14/Newark, and at RS/Allied Components.