Raspberry Pi boosts performance, brings radio certification

LONDON — The Raspberry Pi Foundation launched the latest version of its module featuring significant improvements in performance, wireless connectivity and wireless circuitry certification to enable users to reduce the cost of conformance testing.

The new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, which maintains the $35 price tag of the previous model, features a 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU, dual-band 802.11ac wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.2, faster Ethernet (Gigabit Ethernet over USB 2.0), power-over-Ethernet support (with separate PoE HAT) and improved thermal management. Alongside a 200MHz increase in peak CPU clock frequency, the company says the new module has roughly three times the wired and wireless network throughput, and the ability to sustain high performance for much longer periods.

One of the key features of the module is the radio certification. The wireless circuitry is encapsulated under a metal shield, which has allowed the company to certify the entire board as a radio module under FCC rules, which in turn will significantly reduce the cost of conformance testing Raspberry Pi-based products.

This is significant, especially for the company’s commercial base, according to Eben Upton, co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, speaking to EE Times . The company may have started out with a mission to bring more people into electronics design and computer programming, but the module is also a commercial success in mainstream products.

Eben Upton

Eben Upton

“We've seen a lot of people designing Raspberry Pi into their own products, and this has become an important part of our commercial business, which of course funds our charitable work,” Upton said. “Many of the features we've incorporated into 3+, particularly the modular certification and thermal improvements, have been driven by feedback from the design community.”

The implication of this is that if customers build the new module into a product, compliance of the Wi-Fi and radio part is already covered, so the cost and time required for achieving conformance is reduced.

Upton also said that next generation of products will be driven more by what designers are looking for. “While we have a policy of not discussing future products, with Raspberry Pi 3B+ out of the way we'll be turning our attention to what we do next,” he said. “We'll be speaking to the design community about what they'd like to see in a next-gen Raspberry Pi, but I'd be surprised to see any significant change in the feature mix: it's likely to be “more” of everything we have today.”

Asked about the global market for the Raspberry Pi, Upton responded, “Our largest market is North America, followed by the UK and Germany. We're seeing some larger companies designing it in now, alongside smaller entrepreneurial companies and individuals, which remain an important part of our strategy.”

Upton cited examples from last year such as NEC, which introduced intelligent large format displays with Raspberry Pi connectivity, and NComputing, which introduced a cloud-ready, dual-screen capable and Wi-Fi ready thin client for Windows and Linux, built on the Raspberry Pi 3.

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