March 14 is Pi Day (3/14), and what better way to celebrate than with a brand new Raspberry Pi micro-computer board? The Raspberry Pi Foundation has today released the Pi 3 Model B+, with a more powerful CPU, improved wireless LAN performance and Gigabit wired networking.

Of the 19 million Raspberry Pis sold to date, more than 9 million have been Pi 3 Model B flavors. But the first Pi to rock integrated wireless connectivity is now a little over 2 years old. It's time for an update then, in the shape of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.

The new "plus" addition to the popular range of micro-computers is priced the same as its immediate predecessor, but has been treated to a Broadcom BCM2837B0 1.4 GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 system-on-chip, an updated version of the processing brain used in the 3B. The Foundation says that the addition of a heat spreader and power integrity tweaks allows for a 200 MHz increase in clock frequency, while also catering for improved accuracy in temperature monitoring and control.

Wireless networking has been given a boost too, thanks to an integrated Cypress CYW43455 combination chip that rocks both 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2, routed to a Proant PCB antenna like the one used on the Zero W, for improved wireless performance, particularly in the 5 GHz band. All of the wireless circuitry is housed under a metal shield that's been embossed with the Raspberry Pi Foundation's logo. It's certainly a nice aesthetic touch, but has also allowed the board to be FCC certified as a radio module, a move that should reduce future conformance testing costs.

The combined USB hub and 10/100 Ethernet controller offering of old has been replaced with a LAN7515 chip that caters for Gigabit Ethernet over USB 2.0, and the new board has support for power-over-Ethernet via a four-pin header (with the addition of an upcoming PoE HAT). Earlier version PXE Ethernet boot issues have also been resolved and it's now enabled by default.

Power management improvements allow the micro-computer to run at 1.4 GHz at lower temperatures, and when the temps rise above 70° C the frequency is reduced to 1.2 GHz and power consumption is dropped to extend the time before the 3B+ reaches an 80° C thermal throttle. The Foundation does point out that the 3B+ draws more power than the straight 3B (which, along with earlier models, will continue to be manufactured as long as there is demand), so advises using a high quality 2.5 A power supply.

Elsewhere, the 3B+ features 1 GB of LPDDR2 RAM, 40-pin GPIO expansion header, full-sized HDMI port, four USB 2.0 ports, a CSI camera port ready and waiting for the Pi camera module and a DSI display port for connection to a Pi touchscreen display. The operating system and storage needs are taken care of by a microSD card pushed into the integrated slot.

The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is available from today for US$35. The video below has more on the release.

View gallery - 6 images