Feeds
Hero B+ raspberry pi

Raspberry Pi B+: PHWOAR, get a load of those pins

More USB ports than your laptop? You'd better believe it...

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Are you compatible?

Extended GPIO B+ raspberry pi

It’s a bit of a cheat: the B had the extra GPIO too, but they were routed to other parts of the board and left unattached to header pins. They’ve now been corralled to extend the original two rows of GPIO pins, which retain their numbering and functionality. The upshot is that the extra pins won’t prevent existing add-ons being used: just slot them onto the first 26 pins on the board and use them as before.

What will prevent old kit being used, however, is the extra USB ports. A fair few add-on boards were cut to drop in alongside the Pi’s connectors, allowing them to be pushed down as close to the Pi as possible.

The layout changes will mess many of these up – my PiFace, for instance – requiring either the use of a GPIO extension cable, a 26-pin GPIO raiser, or the purchase of a new, updated add-on. Smaller boards are generally fine – my PyGlow continues to operate as a colourful system monitor for the Pi in headless mode. Larger boards with depth-extended female connectors – such as the Pi-Lite – should still work too.

For the same reason, existing Pi cases will not work with the new model. Here, the decision to move the micro USB power jack from the back of the board to the side (next to the HDMI port) will hinder attempts to hack cases to fit the new board, though you could probably cut one end away to ensure all the new USB ports are exposed. You could even drill extra holes in the base to line up with the B+’s four mounting points, evenly arranged at edges of the board.

Some old RPi boards don't fit

Some old boards don't fit...

New cases will be less bright affairs: the Pi’s five status LEDs have been reduced to two: power and disk activity. The board’s Ethernet jack has two built-in LEDs to replace the three network-centric indicators on the old board.

There are broader improvements to the GPIO that make all this case business irrelevant. Two of the pins are intended for I2C EEPROM connectivity, but the Foundation will be using them for add-on board interrogation, part of a new spec it’s calling HAT (Hardware Attached on Top).

It’s the Pi answer to Arduino’s shield system, and defines a standard schema for implementing Pi-friendly cards. The specification includes auto-configuration and automatic driver setup, and aligned mounting holes to boards can be bolted to the host Pi. The Foundation says HAT is optional, but such initiatives have a habit of becoming de facto standards, so adopting the B+ might well seem the best way to future-proof your Pi rig.

It also explains why so many of the emerging B+ cases are considerably taller than old ones: it's all the better to accommodate HATs.

Hero B+ raspberry pi

The Reg Verdict

The B+ is unquestionably a better Pi than its predecessor. It’ll make your battery-powered projects run further, its solid-state storage card is held more securely and its extra USB ports mean you can probably do without a USB hub at long last. Yet it’s fully compatible with your existing setup. Only if you need to convert from SD or Mini SD to Micro SD will you have any bother there.

For me, 30 quid isn’t a barrier, so I’ll be availing myself of a B+ to replace the B I currently mess around with. The extra USB ports and support for a new generation of add-on cards make it a no-brainer. Yes, I certainly tip my HAT to the new Pi B+. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Hero B+ raspberry pi

Raspberry Pi B+: PHWOAR, get a load of those pins

Unquestionably a better Pi than its predecessor
Price: £29.22 inc VAT RRP

More from The Register

next story
Official: European members prefer to fondle Apple iPads
Only 7 of 50 parliamentarians plump for Samsung Galaxy S
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
Intel's LAME DUCK mobile chips gobbled by CASH COW
Chipzilla won't have money-losing mobe unit to kick about anymore
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.