Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ gets a clock speed boost and better Wi-Fi

The Pi Foundation has released many takes on its Raspberry Pi line of ARM-based single-board computers (SBCs) over the years. Today's release of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ marks the first time the foundation has launched a new model on Pi Day. The big improvements compared to the existing Raspberry Pi 3 are a 200-MHz clock speed bump, a Gigabit Ethernet controller, and improved Wi-Fi with 802.11ac and 5-GHz band support.

The move from Broadcom's BCM2837 SoC to the company's BCM2837B0 chip suggests a modest upgrade overall, and the jump from a 1.2 GHz clock to 1.4 GHz bears out this assumption. The Pi Foundation says a new heat spreader, improved manufacturing, and new thermal management techniques let the chip run at its peak clock speed for longer periods.

Wireless networking got an upgrade from musty old 2.4 GHz 802.11n to current-generation 802.11ac with dual-band support. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support both come from the Cypress CYW4355 controller chip hidden beneath the Pi-logo-emblazoned metal shielding on the corner of the board. The Pi Foundation says the shielded radio chip allows it to certify the entire Pi 3B+ board as a radio module under FCC rules, a move the foundation says will reduce certification costs for Pi-based products. The Bluetooth module also got a spec boost from version 4.1 to 4.2 with Bluetooth Low Energy support.

What hasn't changed is the USB 2.0 bus that connects all peripherals to the SoC, including networking and storage. That means real-world throughput from the Gigbit Ethernet controller is going to be limited to a maximum of about 300 Mbps and will drop when accessing storage or other subsystems. The Pi 3+ still boots from a microSD slot, but the Pi Foundation says PXE and USB boot support are improved. The new Pi has the same 1 GB of LPDDR2 memory as the old model. The VideoCore IV GPU baked into the SoC and the full-size HDMI 1.3 jack it uses for display output also remain unchanged.

Thermal improvements allow the Pi 3 Model B+ to run faster, longer

Tinkerers plumbing the Pi 3 Model B+ into an IoT or embedded application might appreciate the promised official support for power-over-Ethernet (PoE). This capability requires a soon-coming PoE HAT—an add-on board that attaches to the board's 40-pin general-purpose input-output (GPIO) header. The Pi 3B+ also carries over the existing CSI and DSI ribbon connectors for attaching cameras and displays.

Buyers will need to supply their own microSD card and a relatively-beefy 2.5 A power supply, like with the predecessor board. Many operating systems have been ported to the Pi Foundation's line of SBCs, but the most prominent and well supported is the Foundation's own Raspbian.

The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is available now from the Pi Foundation's partners for the same $35 price as the old Pi 3 Model B. The Foundation says it will produce Pi 3B+ units through 2023.

Comments closed
    • TheMonkeyKing
    • 2 years ago

    Why oh why have they not addressed the USB bus bottleneck? USB is still crippled and the gig ethernet is moot because, like Wayne mentioned, will only top out at 300Mbps and even less during hard drive read/writes – which is most of the time.

    This is the first Raspbee that disappoints. Even though it’s still just $35, I cannot recommend a buy for existing Pi owners. For someone who doesn’t a have a Pi, sure, explore away.

    For current owners, may I suggest a new promising platform, the Onion Omega? [url<]https://www.sparkfun.com/search/results?term=onion[/url<]

      • TheMonkeyKing
      • 2 years ago

      My only hunch, without asking directly (which I just might), is that they want more open source drivers for the chipset? But I’m only guessing here.

      They could easily swap out the current Microchip LAN7515 for either:
      – older model ASIX AX88179
      – RealTek RTL8153-CG (I think this is more expensive and might drive up the price to $40? Just guessing here too.)

        • willmore
        • 2 years ago

        The limitation is that there’s just one USB port (and it’s an OTG one at that) comeing off the SoC. It doesn’t matter much what you hook to it, it’s all going to have to share that bandwidth and that’s way less than a GigE and four USB2.0 HS ports.

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      It’s a decent bump from a 2B or earlier, but pretty little from a 3B unless you need that 5GHz wifi or faster networking. I know people upgrading their 2Bs.

        • willmore
        • 2 years ago

        Watch out for power dissipation increases. It’s up a good deal from the 2B. Over twice the power use at load and around a Watt even at idle.

        [url<]https://www.raspberrypi.org/magpi/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Raspberry-Pi-Benchmarks-Power-Draw.jpg[/url<]

    • Bensam123
    • 2 years ago

    So you don’t need to add a $10 heatspreader kit anymore… yay…

    The PoE is actually a big deal. I’m not sure why it’s not fully integrated to begin with, putting aside the targeted market which is system integration it very much helps with cable management. PoE switches and injectors are everywhere and dirt cheap, the newer specs can also transmit a pretty good amount of power over just a ethernet cable.

    PoE should actually be substantially more common then it currently is, even if just the basic spec.

      • Anton Kochubey
      • 2 years ago

      >So you don’t need to add a $10 heatspreader kit anymore… yay…

      It’s $1.5 on aliexpress lol

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        Or a few stacked pennies and the thermal grease we all already have left over 😛

          • Vigil80
          • 2 years ago

          Would… would that work?

            • tipoo
            • 2 years ago

            I mean look at the scrappy heat spreader they threw on the Pi here, some thermal paste and a few pennies can’t be far off, if not better…It’s not using much power even at load, a very small effort is probably the difference between the throttling temperature or not. The gaps from the surface of the penny wouldn’t be ideal, but this thing here is also not much thicker than tin foil.

      • willmore
      • 2 years ago

      Supposedly, the PoE board will add on $25 and take up the GPIO port.

    • tipoo
    • 2 years ago

    Same VideoCore GPU (and probably much the same SoC other than a CPU clock bump overall), but I wonder if the GPU also gets a clock speed bump.

    I think the 3 B was borderline on some emulation (up to Gamecube I think?), i wonder if this pushes it that tiny bit over on that.

      • willmore
      • 2 years ago

      Just buy a better board. 🙂 There are a ton of them out there.

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        Hardware wise, yeah, but the tradeoff is the big community out there for project support.

          • willmore
          • 2 years ago

          I keep hearing that, but whenever I see someone looking for help on their forum or their IRC channel, I only see a bunch of other people who don’t know their solution saying “don’t know”.

          If it’s a supportive forum and IRC you want, then ODROID is at least as well supported as the RPI boards. The PINE boards are getting there. The BeagleBone boards have been at that level of support for longer than the RPIs.

            • srg86
            • 2 years ago

            As someone burned by the BeagleBone Black’s horrible Angstrom linux, I’d go for the Pi because of the better software support and updates, with other boards I’d feel like I was comparatively left adrift. The Ordroid’s use of Mali GPU is also a major minus.

            • willmore
            • 2 years ago

            What’s wrong with Mali?

            • tipoo
            • 2 years ago

            VideoCore is the only publicly-documented ARM GPU out there, so that’s the main concern for an open platform. Other than that I don’t think they meant anything specific was wrong with Mali.

            • willmore
            • 2 years ago

            It’s had publicly documented GPU for almost four years now and still no working driver. They still rely on the closed source driver from the SoC vendor.

            There’s no documentation on the video trancode engine.

            The open source bootloader can’t even boot linux–it’s just a proof of concept.
            [quote<]srg86: The Ordroid's use of Mali GPU is also a major minus.[/quote<] [quote<]tipoo: Other than that I don't think they meant anything specific was wrong with Mali.[/quote<] "Major minus" and nothing specific? If it's so bad, justify it. The ODROID has a fully functioning GPU. The vendor ships several different distributions all with working GPU drivers. They're paying a development house to provide mainline linux support. What's Rpi on? 4.1, 4.4? If you're going to take potshots at something, you had better be able to back it up with facts.

            • srg86
            • 2 years ago

            Basically fine hardware, but PITA closed drivers.

            • willmore
            • 2 years ago

            What’s painful about them?

    • soryuuha
    • 2 years ago

    pi3 b+ finally does 4k hevc 10bit acceleration?

    cant find anything about it in article

      • Hattig
      • 2 years ago

      No, it’s the same SoC, just with better thermal management.

      Which, from the graph above, could mean a better overall performance gain than the raw numbers would otherwise suggest, unless you previously had a heatsink mounted.

      Hopefully a suitable replacement SoC with A55s, VC5, USB3, and a process shrink (28nm instead of 40nm would help a lot) will be along for next year, but as mentioned above, it could be longer.

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      Exact same GPU, so no new hardware decode. But the Pi 3 B could run low bitrate HVEC (mostly 720p), maybe the clock bump pushes this a bit higher.

      • willmore
      • 2 years ago

      You may want to look at the Rockchip based boards or the ODROID C2 or some of the newer Allwinner based chips. The Raspberry boards are sporting the VideoCore IV dating from 2009.

    • Wirko
    • 2 years ago

    Pi 3 has a tiniest chip antenna, but I can’t locate the new model’s antenna at all in the picture.

      • UberGerbil
      • 2 years ago

      Maybe the shielding means they now require an external antenna for everything?

      • Takeshi7
      • 2 years ago

      The gap antenna is clearly visible on the PCB next to the shielded chip. Right above the “J4” silkscreen, and left of the “made in the UK” silkscreen. That little triangle shaped section on the PCB.

      • TheMonkeyKing
      • 2 years ago

      Resonant cavity antennae. 3rd, 4th picture. See:
      [url<]http://raspi.tv/2018/new-raspberry-pi-model-3b-1-4-ghz-330mbit-ethernet-802-11ac-poe[/url<]

    • chuckula
    • 2 years ago

    Happy Pi Day to all pies, Raspberry or otherwise.

      • UberGerbil
      • 2 years ago

      It’s worth noting that if you check around you may find deals on actual pies. I know my local pizza place has two-for-one slices today, and the local pies-and-drinks place Pie Bar always has specials as well.

        • Neutronbeam
        • 2 years ago

        My local Your Pie is offering individual pizzas (all they offer) for $3.14.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        I got an email from a Papa Murphy’s advertising any large single-topping pizza for $3.14

          • willmore
          • 2 years ago

          We got two! Why? Because Tau is better than Pi!

            • UberGerbil
            • 2 years ago

            You should’ve got considerably more than two, but somewhat less than three, so long as one of the ingredients was natural olive euler.

            • willmore
            • 2 years ago

            Hey, get your own day!

    • Takeshi7
    • 2 years ago

    I’m pretty disappointed they didn’t upgrade to USB 3.0. A lot of their competition has by this point.

      • chuckula
      • 2 years ago

      It’s not happening until there’s a major update to the SoC. I doubt that the SoC is going to get a big upgrade until at least 2020 or so.

      • bthylafh
      • 2 years ago

      Cost engineering. It’s not easy to get modern features for an absurdly low price.

        • willmore
        • 2 years ago

        The price isn’t absurdly low. It’s actually pretty high for this market segment. Compare the Rpi3+ to an Orange Pi PC2 for $20.

      • Welch
      • 2 years ago

      Yeah, that has been my major point of contention. I’d imagine the SOC couldn’t truly handle that much I/O anyhow and they of course want to maintain the $35 mark. I’m thinking the next iteration of the Pi will be the big one. USB 3.0, more powerful SOC and hopefully pushing to the 3 or 4gb DDR3!?

        • bthylafh
        • 2 years ago

        As expensive as RAM’s been, don’t hold your breath.

        • mczak
        • 2 years ago

        I think you can forget 3 or 4GB of memory, even if memory prices go down again.
        With current prices, even 2GB (which everybody is hoping for) would be out of the question, as the cost of that alone would be ~15$ (and reportedly they don’t want to increase the price of the Pi).

      • UberGerbil
      • 2 years ago

      Clearly they’re waiting for a minor revision in the USB spec so they can upgrade to USB 3.14

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