Initial Thoughts On Raspberry Pi B+

The Raspberry Pi Foundation release a new version of their wildly successful mini-computer platform today. The Raspberry Pi model B+ is not really an upgrade to the existing platform, but rather an update.

Image of Raspberry Pi B+

  • The layout of the board has changed significantly without changing the size or dimensions. So, while this will fit in the same project space, you will have to buy a new case for it or use the new mounting holes to mount it. You may also have to reroute your cables if they are tied down.
  • There are now a total of four USB ports instead of two. Which is great since it always seemed like people needed to plug in at least three peripherals at a time. This has the potential to reduce the cable clutter of a USB hub as well. Three or four USB devices could be a power drain if it weren’t for …
  • Reduced power consumption by the Pi itself. Maybe this will mean you will actually have enough power to drive those extra USB devices. It will depend on  your power source to power draw ratio, so you might have to resort to a powered USB hub anyway.
  • It now uses a Micro SD instead of standard SD memory card. This is great going forward, but I am not sure what to do with all those cheap standard size SD cards I bought for the original Pi.
  • The analog display is now build into the audio jack. Saves space, but I guess I have to buy another cable now.
  • 40 pins instead of just 26. People that were used to using an Arduino have been asking for this for a while. The downside of this is that if you have been using 26 pin connectors or the Pi-Cobbler for your projects you will have a difficult time re-using them on this new board.

If you have been struggling with performance, there is nothing here for you. In fact, Eben mentioned that we are not likely to see a next-gen board with more powerful specs from the Raspberry Pi Foundation until 2017. 2017! IMHO, this is where the problem lies. There is a lot of momentum built up around Raspberry Pi, but too few options for taking this to the next level in terms of performance. That momentum is turning into new companies and projects springing up to address the need for similar systems with more horsepower. My fear is that if the Raspberry Pi does not iterate more quickly when it comes to performance people will migrate away which will detract from the great community that exists around this platform. Maybe I am expecting too much from this small team, but I feel that there is so much untapped potential here.

So here is my free advice for The Raspberry Pi Foundation:

  1. Establish two new price points that you want to go after. You have succeeded in your original goal of a $25 computer. Now it’s time to expand that vision. Let’s say $55 and $95.
  2. Target doubling the current performance in the $55 model and quadrupling current performance in the $95 model.
  3. Instead of a “model C” or a “2.o” go for better branding with “Blueberry Pi” and “Strawberry Pi” or any other type of pie reference.
  4. Either hire some new people who can make this a reality in 6 months for for the $55 model and 1 year for the $95 model or …
  5. Partner with Broadcom or Intel to help you reach this goal.
  6. Try if possible to stick with the same layout as the B+ so we don’t have to buy new cases for each model. (this one is a nice-to-have)

It seems that there is enough demand to justify this accelerated timeline, and, let’s face it, three more years is way to long to wait for next gen when both the industry and user base is evolving much more quickly than that.

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