When the first Raspberry Pi single-board computer arrived in early 2012, it triggered a revolution in how small and cheap computers could be. Since then we've had many challengers to the Raspberry Pi, and it's fair to say on performance the Pi is falling behind. However, the little board that started it all just got another update, and it is all about speed.
The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ launched today and improves upon the existing Pi 3 Model B ($35.87 at Amazon) in a number of ways. Most notably, the processor is an updated 64-bit Broadcom Cortex-A53 chip running at 1.4GHz. It's not only faster, but also includes a heat spreader and power integrity optimizations allowing it to better control temperature while enjoying more performance.
Wireless connectivity is also greatly improved thanks to the inclusion of a Cypress CYW43455 'combo' chip and a Proant PCB antenna, which is very similar to the one used on the Pi Zero W ($26.00 at Amazon) . Together, it allows the B+ to provide improved 2.4GHz band performance, but also 'far better performance' when using the 5GHz band. Where as the B could achieve 35.6Mb/s over 2.4GHz, the B+ increases that to 46.3Mb/s, but is also capable of hitting 102Mb/s using 5GHz.
If you prefer wired to wireless, there's more good news. The B+ uses an upgraded LAN chip from Microchip which includes support for Gigabit Ethernet. The bandwidth available is still limited by the use of USB 2.0, but there's a huge performance gain nonetheless. The B achieves throughput of 95.5Mb/s, but the B+ pushes that up to 315Mb/s. Add to that support for Power over Ethernet with the addition of a HAT, and for connectivity alone this board is worth the upgrade.
The B+ does use more power than previous boards, but thanks to the improved power integrity of the Broadcom chip, it won't get throttled very often. The chip runs at 1.4GHz, which throttles down to 1.2GHz only once temperatures exceed 70 degrees Celsius. Further throttling happens beyond 80 degrees, but it's very unlikely you'll ever reach such high temperatures.
As you'd expect, the new board remains compatible with all the existing Pi 3 Model B accessories and retains the $35 price point. There are no plans to discount older models or cease production until there's a clear sign demand is drying up. However, it's pretty clear the Pi 3 Model B+ will become the most popular choice very quickly.
The B+ is already available to buy, with online retailers worldwide starting to receive stock. So no matter where you live, chances are you'll be able to get one pretty quickly such is the maturity of the supply chain today.