With an upgraded processor boasting impressive new packaging and improved networking capabilities, the new Raspberry Pi 3B+ sits head and shoulders above its predecessor the Raspberry Pi 3.
So let’s take a look at some of the new features on the latest member of the Raspberry Pi Family.
Compare this to the Raspberry Pi 3 benchmarks
Although it’s the same underlying design as its predecessor, the new Raspberry Pi 3B+’s BCM2837 system-on-chip (SoC) features improved packaging alongside a heat-spreader which have helped boost its performance from 1.2GHz to 1.4GHz.
The new USB Ethernet controller offers gigabit connectivity at a theoretical maximum throughput of 300Mb/s, due to its use of a single USB channel.
And a switch to a new dual-band radio module and antenna design inspired by the Pi Zero W improves the Pi 3 B+’s connectivity compared to its predecessor.
You’ll need to upgrade Raspbian to the latest version to use the new wireless LAN chip. You can download the latest image file from the Raspberry Pi Downloads page, or open connect via Ethernet, open Terminal and enter the following:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
An optional Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) HAT module, available separately, can power the Pi 3 B+.
Finally, a clever power management integrated circuit (PMIC) replaces discrete components and provides smoother power.
The promise of improved performance is one thing, but there’s only one way to get to the truth of the matter: benchmark testing.
Driving the GPIO pins via Python can result in a CPU bottleneck, as demonstrated by this simplest of programs: a pin is switched on and off as quickly as possible while connected to a frequency counter. Note that updates to the GPIO driver and Python itself will alter these results.
A synthetic benchmark designed to stress the central processor, SysBench’s CPU test highlights the performance gains available to CPU-bound applications – in particular those which can take advantage of the multiple processing cores available on the Pi 2, Pi 3, and Pi 3 B+.
Not all applications are limited by available CPU performance, with some reliant on memory throughput – the speed at which data can be written to and read from RAM. The SysBench memory test carries out repeated 1KB reads and writes then reports the throughput in megabytes per second (MB/s).
The Ethernet port, which connects via a shared USB channel, has been the last feature of the Raspberry Pi design to receive an upgrade. This test copies an incompressible 100MB file to each Pi on test, and there’s no surprise in seeing the Pi 3 B+’s gigabit Ethernet topping the chart.
More performance is always welcome, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch. This test, which measures power draw at the desktop with an HDMI display, wireless keyboard, and – where applicable – Ethernet connected, shows how an older model of Pi may be better suited to battery-powered and embedded applications.