The Raspberry Pi Foundation recently released the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ with refreshed hardware. The new single board computer retains its predecessor's $35 price tag while including a tweaked SoC with faster clockspeeds and improved power management as well as moves to modern Gigabit Ethernet and dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi networking. The Pi Foundation has further managed to shield the board such that it can be certified as a radio board under FCC rules which should make end product certification an easier process.
On the outside, not much has changed as the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ has the same form factor and board layout and I/O options as previous models. Digging a bit deeper though, nestled under a new heatspreader lies the Broadcom BCM2837B0 which can run its four ARM Cortex A53 cores at up to 1.4 GHz or run at the same 1.2 GHz clocks as the Pi 3 Model B (BCM2837) while using less power. A MaxLinear MxL7704 power management IC regulates board power and processor clockspeeds to keep it from overheating. Below 70°C the SoC runs at 1.4 GHz, but if it heats up to above that it will reduce voltage and clocks to 1.2 GHz. If the chip continues to heat up past 80°C it trips the thermal throttle, and clockspeeds will be further reduced until temperatures fall. The Pi Foundation notes that the new heatspreader should help it run faster and for longer lengths of time than the Pi 3 Model B. On the networking side of things, the upgraded Wi-Fi is powered by a Cypress CYW4355 and a Proant PCB antenna (similar to the one used in the Pi Zero W) for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy while the Gigabit Ethernet is powered by a LAN7515 chipset.
Note than the wired networking is still limited by the USB 2.0 bus, and the board itself has not been upgraded with USB 3.0 support or any USB 3 ports unlike many of its competitors (which is unfortunate). According to the Pi Foundation, the new SBC can hit 102 Mbps over 5 GHz Wi-Fi and up to 315 Mbps over a wired connection which is a huge boost over the Pi 3 Model B's ~36 Mbps wireless and ~95 Mbps wired performance. Interestingly, the new board features PXE boot turned on by default and support for PoE (802.3af) using a POE HAT which has a switched power supply for converting the 37V DC from PoE sources to the 5V/2.5A needed by the Pi.
The Raspberry Pi 3 with its POE HAT connected via the 40-pin GPIO header.
The Videocore IV GPU, HDMI 1.3, 1GB LPDDR2, USB 2.0, and other features of the small form factor PC remain unchanged. The Pi Foundation plans to produce this model until 2023 and hints at "+" model refreshes for the Pi 3 Model A and Pi CM3 and CM3L compute modules coming soon. The Pi 3 Model B+ is listed for $35 (the same as the non-plus model) and joins the existing lineup of Pi 3s of which the foundation has sold 9 million of so far!
What are your thoughts on the refreshed Pi 3?