New Raspberry Pi Mini-Computer Comes With More USB Ports

The newest version of the mini-computer, released two years after the original, will keep the original's price of $35.

Raspberry Pi

Two years after launching the initial Raspberry Pi, the organization behind the mini-computer aimed at enthusiasts and students is rolling out an upgraded version that includes more USB ports and better power consumption.

And it comes at the same price as the previous version.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation on July 14 introduced the Raspberry Pi Model B+, which officials said is the last version of the original. Sometime down the road there will be a new model, but for now, the foundation wanted to put in some improvements that customers have been asking for, according to Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi founder and CEO of its engineering team.

"This isn't a 'Raspberry Pi 2,' but rather the final evolution of the original Raspberry Pi," Upton said in a post on the foundation blog.

The foundation in 2012 released the first versions of the credit-card-size computer, which the group hoped students would gravitate to and use to learn how to program. However, the popularity has grown beyond expectations, with some companies finding uses for the system. The Raspberry Pi Foundation reportedly has sold more than 2 million units of its Model A (which has one USB port and sells for $25) and Model B (two USB ports and a $35 price tag) versions.

The Model B+ comes with four USB ports, as well as 40 pins in its general-purpose input/output (GPIO) header rather than 26, and better audio capabilities by using a dedicated low-noise power supply, according to Upton. With the increased number of pins, the GPIO can support more sensors. The foundation's engineers replaced linear regulators with switching ones, which has helped reduce power consumption by between 0.5 watts and 1 watt.

The form factor was improved by aligning the USB connectors with the board edge, moving the composite video onto the 3.5mm jack, and adding four squarely placed mounting holes, he wrote. It is powered by the same ARM-based BCM2835 chip from Broadcom as the original Model B and also retains the 512MB of memory.

Even with all the improvements, the foundation is keeping the price of the Model B+ at $35, according to Upton.

The added USB ports were keys to the Model B+, according to James Adams, director of hardware at the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

"This was really one of the biggest reasons that drove the board," Adams said in a video on the foundation Website. "We wanted to add more USB. It's something that we found a lot of users [wanted]. They wanted to plug in their keyboard and mouse, but they also want a WiFi dongle, so having those two extra USB ports is a massive win."

While the new model may be available now, Upton said in the video that the foundation will continue selling the Model B.

"There are a lot of people—industrial customers in particular—who designed the Model B into products, so to support them, we're going to be keeping the Model B in the market as long as there is industrial demand."

The Model B+ is available where the previous models are sold, as well as directly from the foundation's primary manufacturing partners, Farnell/element14/Newark and RS/Allied Components.