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

You might think that as a purveyor of a nifty compact computer selling in the millions, you’d consider two years after the debut of your first offering that it was high time you tempted back the buyers with a go-faster, more capacious and shinier model. Heck, Apple and others don’t even wait that long: they upgrade products year …

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About the uSB ports sticking out...

...that's what you want, it means that fit flush with any case you have.

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Interesting title

An interesting title for the piece. You might want to read this article on the problems of lewd language in the male dominated IT workplace.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/08/25/unacceptable_behaviour_at_tech_events/

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Devil

Re: Interesting title

Suck it up, buttercup

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Interesting title

Amusing how you assume the title refers to a male letching at a female. It could as easily be female to male, male to male or female to female.

Nice to know your prejudices.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Interesting title

Or perhaps a person of any gender with a bowling fetish referring to some white and red striped beauties.

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Re: Interesting title

I'm fine with a headline lusting after a Raspi. But then I have a sense of irony. And context helps - if I was offended by the sunsational-tabloid-style I probably wouldn't be on El Reg in the first place.

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Re: Interesting title

And to think, I thought the pins where the male bits.

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Maybe the next iteration

No in-built RTC then...pity.

Oh well there's always next time

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Re: Maybe the next iteration

But these work a treat ...

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/400718865406

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Re: Maybe the next iteration

I know but, I would like to keep my pins clear for other devices

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Re: Maybe the next iteration

It uses I2C so you can easily daisy-chain other I2C devices off the same pins anyway.

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Birthday present sorted :-)

I have asked for a Pi anyway - so this is excellent timing!

Just need to decide on the case.

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Re: Birthday present sorted :-)

Cases for the B+ are a bit limited at the moment anyway - ModMyPi and Cyntech have got a new one coming along in a couple of weeks that looks fairly neat, and it can be fitted with shims to make the case taller:

https://www.modmypi.com/shop/modmypi-model-b-plus-raspberry-pi-case-black

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Re: Birthday present sorted :-)

Pimoroni do great cases for the B+ - the Pibow's are awesome

I have the wood and a green translucent one for my Model B's and they'd be my first port of call for a B+

http://shop.pimoroni.com/

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Birthday present sorted :-)

Is there one for the B+ with PiTFT yet?

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Re: Birthday present sorted :-)

The PiBow coupe case is pretty damn good. Easy access to the GPIO so add on boards are outside the case...

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The B got a memory memory in a previous rev

The B started with 256MB and it was bumped up to 512MB in a later rev.

I think it wouldn't hurt to bump up the processor in a model C. Multi core SoCs sell for a few dollars which is cheap enough to consider throwing into a later Pi. Add a soft reset / standby and suddenly it's useful as a media player or an Android device. The model B could just about power XBMC but it didn't win prizes for responsiveness.

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Going multicore

The problem is that once you bump the processor up to something more modern, your software compatibility goes out the window,

The Quad Cores are coming (in a month or two). But they are very different beasts from the Pi and the O/S's they run are sufficiently different that the Pi's biggest asset: it's base of user software, would have to be restarted, reported or redesigned.

While that may not be such a bad thing - it will take the wind out of the Pi's sails and given that there are so many other products already in the SBC multi-processor market, it would be difficult for the Pi to regain its old pre-eminence.

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XBMC & Media Hubs

Waste of nice HW using Pi for Media applications. It can't manage MPEG4 HD and DVB-T stick properly and basic media solutions don't need all the GPIO etc. Plenty of good products for a Media solution. No built in SATA.

It's an embedded Linux controller, not a Media box!

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Mushroom

Re: XBMC & Media Hubs

XBMC on the Pi (OpenELEC, Raspbmc, Xbian etc.) can play back full high-profile Blu-ray rips so I don't know what you're on about saying it can't handle MPEG4 HD, that's utter FUD.

I've also no idea about your DVB-T stick, maybe get one with decent Linux driver support next time - plenty of others are using their Pis with XBMC for Live TV/PVR viewing.

The Pi with XBMC does actually make a genuinely good "media box" - it can pretty much play anything you care to chuck at it, either from local HDD (USB attached), from your NAS or streamed from the web.

Sure, the ARM CPU hasn't got the same slick performance as a quad-core i7, but the GPU in the Pi is surprisingly powerful and funnily enough that's the most important thing when playing hardware accelerated videos. And despite being low powered, the ARM CPU still provides a pretty good user experience when browsing around the menus and library in XBMC (officially sanctioned overclocking to 1GHz+ helps improve the UX, of course).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev

You have missed the point of Pi.

It's an educational device, not a device that allows you to pirate movies and stream them around your home.

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Re: XBMC & Media Hubs

"The Pi with XBMC does actually make a genuinely good "media box"" - Yes. To a point. I received a Pi last year as a present. At first I used it with XBMC to play .TS files from my PVR and video from my NAS, both in another room. It did an okay job, however the lack of proper FF/REW on some file types and the fact that when playing a file the UI was like wading through treacle meant that I moved it on to other things.

So it was then put into service as see whether it was good enough to use as an emulation games machine (Amiga/ST/MAME). It wasn't. It's simply not powerful enough.

It's now running CUPS and acting as an AirPrint server for my 15 year old laserjet printer.

At first I thought of the Pi as a solution looking for a problem. It's clearly found a niche for low power (both electrical and processing) projects, though I'm still not convinced it's the best option for the task it was originally marketed for - the revival of the bedroom coder and getting school kids into programming. A significantly more powerful version (quad core, more memory) would open up a whole load more opportunities.

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Re: Going multicore

"The problem is that once you bump the processor up to something more modern, your software compatibility goes out the window,"

I don't see the issue really. A Pi runs whatever you load onto the SD card. If dists are built to the new Pi specification then they'll run the same way as they do now. End users download a dist, stick it on a card and boot it. They might have to recompile their code but presumably they wouldn't have bought the new Pi if they weren't prepared to do that.

"The Quad Cores are coming (in a month or two). But they are very different beasts from the Pi and the O/S's they run are sufficiently different that the Pi's biggest asset: it's base of user software, would have to be restarted, reported or redesigned."

No it wouldn't. Most client side software would work exactly the same whether it was on one core or eight cores. Most existing Pi code runs in a single thread or uses threads sparingly. The only change of moving to a multi core processor is that the kernel scheduler allows more processes / threads to run in parallel so the experience is more responsive, particularly if combined with a higher clock speed.

"While that may not be such a bad thing - it will take the wind out of the Pi's sails and given that there are so many other products already in the SBC multi-processor market, it would be difficult for the Pi to regain its old pre-eminence."

I don't see it doing that at all. A more powerful Pi would have wider appeal particularly for people looking to build out desktops, media players from it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: XBMC & Media Hubs

Running Raspbmc myself, it works very well for such a cheap device. Yes, the UI might not be the smoothest all the time (a minimal skin is recommended), but I use it for media, not to gaze at the menus. One really great thing about it is it supports HDMI CEC, provided you have a compatible TV you can use the TV remote to control it. If you subscribe to Spotify (third party clients require a premium account) just grap a .zip for Spotimc, copy it over and install, no further tinkering is required. And transmission-daemon makes a great web frontend for getting... um, Linux distros, to play. Regarding overclocking, it is very easy (the stock Raspbmc build is already overclocked slightly), but if you like to overclock it further and prefer stability/longevity, heat sinks are reasonable investment. You can get them from ModMyPi for example if you don't want to tinker.

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Coat

Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev

You have missed the point of Pi.

It's an educational device, not a device that allows you to pirate movies and stream them around your home.

Aha! So that is why my encoding of bluray discs to MP4 was taking so long - I was using my Pi.

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Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev

Surely "the point" of a Raspberry Pi is to do whatever you want with it? If it works, why not?

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Re: XBMC & Media Hubs

quote: "At first I thought of the Pi as a solution looking for a problem. It's clearly found a niche for low power (both electrical and processing) projects, though I'm still not convinced it's the best option for the task it was originally marketed for - the revival of the bedroom coder and getting school kids into programming. A significantly more powerful version (quad core, more memory) would open up a whole load more opportunities."

A significantly more powerful unit would also incur a significant increase in base cost. The Pi was designed as a sub-£30 computer, primarily because that price point struck a good balance between kit capability and ease of finding the funds.

You can get some extremely capable miniPCs (e.g. the Zotac range or the Intel NUC range) but they are an order of magnitude more expensive than the Pi. If, as a parent, you can spare £300+ then get a miniPC for them to play with. If you can't, then £30 for a basic unit that they can still learn to use, and is a full general purpose computer to boot, is a bargain.

I used to bedroom code on a single core 1MHz machine with 64kB of RAM, and moved on to an 8MHz single core with 512kB RAM. Compared to those the Pi is a monster of a machine ;)

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Re: XBMC & Media Hubs

You need to research difference between MPEG4 H.264 DVB-T (SD & HD) (or DVB-T2 MPEG4 H.264 HD) and ripped discs. It's not a driver issue. The Pi was NEVER intended as a Media Box solution (it's not even cost effective as one). It'san ARM SoC chip for cheap phones (that use a separate ARM SoC for the phone functions on a break out board for learning and experimenting with HW controlled by your own SW.

Obviously some people simply don't get it!

Also a media box that can't use SATA drives directly is pretty crippled.

I'd not buy a Chromecast or Apple TV. But there are good DIY solutions far better than a Pi for media if you don't want a Roku.

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Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev

"It's an educational device, not a device that allows you to pirate movies and stream them around your home.."

Interesting. And there were people thinking that a device built around a media SoC, which has a LAN port, an HDMI output, H264 and AAC hardware decoding unlocked and 2 major media player dists might reasonably be used that way.

The negativity about wanting the Pi to improve and become more suitable in more situations is absurd and baffling.

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Re: desktops, media players

There are LOADS of solutions for that.

That isn't the aim of the Pi Foundation.

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Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev

You have missed the point of Pi.

It's an educational device,

Actually the RasPi folks are now targeting commercial applications as well

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Re: XBMC & Media Hubs

"You need to research difference between MPEG4 H.264 DVB-T (SD & HD) (or DVB-T2 MPEG4 H.264 HD) and ripped discs. "

I think you need to research the meaningless gobbledegook you just threw out. H264 is a codec. DVB-T and DVB-T2 are broadcast protocols for encapsulating data in streams. As far as a decoder is concerned it is of supreme indifference where the video / audio came from as long as it conforms to the spec.

"The Pi was NEVER intended as a Media Box solution (it's not even cost effective as one). "

The Broadcom Soc in the Pi was designed to go in blu ray players, satellite boxes and so on and hardware decoding of H264 and AAC is unlocked. It's the very definition of a media solution.

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Re: Going multicore

> If dists are built to the new Pi specification then they'll run the same way as they do now.

But they aren't - and they won't.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

First the Allwinner SoCs have a lot of pins (a LOT) that are primarily intended to drive an LCD. If you base a new Pi on these devices, people will see the new features, such as this, and want to use them. That will lead to a fork of the user-base and split the development effort. Not to mention making the boards physical layout a lot different.

Secondly, the reference SunXi Linux ports have a low-level mapping between the processor's hardware pins and their functions. This FEX file is user-configurable and is set up during boot-time. Hence a piece of software that assumes (say) pin PB22 is a serial output pin when a different cut of Linux, or a different version of the same distribution has decided that pin should be a digital input, instead, will fail in weird and improbable ways.

There are many other reasons, but these serve as illustrations that the gap between a Pi and a "next-gen" SBC is large and widening.

And it's reasons like this which are why software compatibility will go out the window and why the processor families are different from each other. Now that doesn't mean the the simple user interface and APIs used on a Pi can't be ported across. But the new SBCs are so much more powerful and have so many additional features that producing products which leave out those features will severely limit their take up - especially as there are established enterprises that are already producing fuil-featured products.

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Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev

It's not a Media SoC. Not in the sense of Home Media, It's support for media on a phone device!

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Re: Going multicore

If you have a classroom full of a mix of Pi and Pi-turbo with different distributions and different builds required it becomes more of an issue - or if you have a turbo at home and a Pi-B at school

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev

> It's not a Media SoC. Not in the sense of Home Media, It's support for media on a phone device!

Gosh, you're right! I must stop using it as my HTPC immediately! And you're right, no SATA interface - what was I thinking having a fanless device that barely uses any power in the living room and NAS tucked away where I can't hear it. Glad you enlightened me.

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Re: Going multicore

You mean like the Cubieboard2 (Allwinner A20) with an attached SSD sitting next to my desk that gets used as a database server for a group of Pis for a particular application, and the Cubieboard (Allwiner A10) that runs the replicated database, both of which are running Raspbian?

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ql
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Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev

"which is cheap enough to consider throwing into a later Pi."

What I find fascinating about the Pi, along with the attendant commentary in tech rags, is that it challenges the assumptions that bigger, more, whatever superlative you wish to use, is intrinsically better. Sure, sometimes, as in the above comment, it may just be a wish rather than a critique of what the Pi's founders and its foundation intended and have achieved. It's almost like the pushback that occurred at the height of the Enlightenment, when the starkness of method was balanced by the rise of Romanticism. And the creative outpouring that has accompanied the Pi bears out that assertion quite well. The Pi says it need not be all about the philosophy of Improvement, but can be about what's within your grasp and within your capability. So it's appealing to people for whom mainstream technology would hold little interest, but still really is technology.

Having said that, I'm still doing traditional tech with one of mine, safely tucked away in an Austrian data centre, thanks to the generosity of free Pi hosting companies.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev

Yes you can do whatever you want with it. But why bother doing stuff that other hardware does far easier and slicker.

Most people's TV's already play media these days or they have a games console, or blue ray player that does, and if none of those apply then a Roku or android dongle are cheaper than a Pi and better at the job as well.

The Pi is strongest at doing stuff other hardware doesn't do.

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Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev @MAge

Actually, the SoC in the Raspi was designed to go in to mobile phones as a media processor (and other stuff). The GPU was specifically designed for H264 decode at 1080p30, encode for camera at the same speed. It has fast 3D and 2D graphics for running games. The ARM itself was added as an bolt on goody.

And the EXACT SAME SOC was used in the Roku2 - which as I am sure you are aware is a media box.

So it's media credentials are actually really quite good. The ARM is a bit weak for real speedy UI stuff, but we use it at home to stream stuff wirelessly from the PVR and NAS, and also use one in a motorhome as a wireless AP so the sprogs can stream stuff to their tablets on the move. Works fine with XBMC.

I do tend to overclock to 900Mhz (simple config change)which does make an appreciable difference.

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Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev @MAge

If I dare make a possibly ill-educated comment: surely the issue with moving to a new SoC would be that the existing Broadcom is an ARMv6 device whereas anything newer is probably ARMv7. Which would make maintaining binary distributions of anything more troublesome — hardly an impossible problem, but a bit more awkward. In the intended environment, it'd at least mean remembering which pile of SD cards goes with which type of board.

As to price, I imagine there may be a calculation that with ARMv8 now filtering into mobile phones, there's about to be a whole generation of ARMv7 parts that remain incredibly capable but are suddenly a lot easier to get a good deal on just because of the realities of marketing.

There's also the fact that Broadcom has provided full documentation to the Videocore IV, which isn't standard industry practice — GPU internals remain entirely proprietary — and would be very unlikely to occur with a new SoC. So that would introduce a new round of binary blobs and impediments to the bare metal programmers.

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Facepalm

Re: "pirate movies and stream them around your home"

So, anyone who uses media streaming is a pirate? I'm ripping all my DVDs to a load of reclaimed hard drives in an old tower case, and using Raspbmc to play them on my TV - should I cower in fear at the thought of the police beating down my door and hauling me up before the beak? My long history of VHS useage would surely count against me.

On a serious note, I did intend to use the Pi for the kids to learn programming on, but it's just too damn handy as a cheap, versatile, media player (and I get to reclaim shelf space from the DVDs, too)!

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Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev

Surely "the point" of a Raspberry Pi is to do whatever you want with it? If it works, why not?

And extra points for doing something no one else has done, like, er, putting it in a rocket plane.

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CPU - same

RAM - same

USB throughput with a 5 port hub (4 external + 1 internal USB Ethernet) - tiny fraction lower

[Model B has a 3 port hub (2 ext + 1 int USB Ethernet) - slightly faster but not by very much really]

SD card - bye bye standard, hello micro.

It is basically a mobile phone without a screen, baseband processor, antenna, battery and camera, although you can buy that optional these days for what 20ish.

If they stick to this CPU, the only easy upgrade path left to them is to add more RAM. I think that the chip can support 2GB and it will probably happen when they can no longer source 512MB cheaper 1GB/2GB. At some stage in electronics old components ends up costing more than new.

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Nope, max 1GB, and only if a manufacturer decides to make a POP chip that fits, Which won't happen. So 512MB until the next version comes out. I believe Eben Upton has said this will be the final revision with the 2835.

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It's a BIG waste of time, the number of ports is irrelevant, it is the number of CONTROLLERS that matter.

Many of these SOCs have Two or three independent controllers , where as some others do stupid things like string internal peripherals off exposed usb hubs ,because it's cheaper……

Unfortunately if the user does something stupid and causes a controller to shutdown then you have an SBC with dead internet, KB and other IO even if the CPU is still running.

Pi has long had major issues with its USB chain for exactly this reason.

Best bet is to always buy SBC kit that has atleast two controllers and ensure that the damned internet is not run off the same controller that the external user connection is……

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Boffin

Bus powered HDD - bump up the USB current then!

I have an old 2.5-inch laptop hard drive in a bus-powered caddy, but the B+ couldn’t provide it with sufficient power

By default the Pi B+ will provide the USB ports with 600mA of current, which may not be enough to spin up your HDD. However if you add the setting

max_usb_current=1

to config.txt (a file in the root of the FAT partition - create it if it doesn't exist), you are able to increase the current supplied to USB devices by another 600mA, to 1.2A, which should be sufficient to power your HDD - no hub required.

However, you will require a decent 2A+ PSU to supply increased current to the USB ports.

Some additional details here.

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Re: Bus powered HDD - bump up the USB current then!

If you have a power-hungry USB drive, check the drive connector. If it's Mini-USB it likely came with a Y-cable having two A-connectors, one power only. You can use a seperate USB-power wart, or two connectors in a proper USB hub. These cables are cheap from the usual net-sources.

Powering this sort of kit is one the the reasons I bought a Pimoroni PiHub.

I bought that product when it was reviewed here, and it fully lives up to the recommendation. There's a lot of expensive crap out there. If your USB-hub is running warm, it's a bad sign. This one delivers the power, and stays cool.

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Pint

Re: Bus powered HDD - bump up the USB current then!

One of the minor annoyances with the previous Pi was the lack of USB ports, so one had to use a USB Hub, and it might as well be a powered hub, and then both the hub and the Pi lacked power steering diodes, so that the hub back fed +5Vdc out the host cable, and the Pi happily accepted power via its USB port, so that turning off the Pi's AC adapter left the system powered on. Silly.

Open hub, cut +5Vdc trace, so that hub now *requires* its own power supply, and doesn't back feed the overly-accepting* Pi (* is there a word for that?).

Yes, yes, ...I did write "minor".

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Anonymous Coward

I find it amusing how, after being named explicitly after the original BBC Micro Models A and B, the corresponding Raspberry Pis mimicked the sales pattern of the latter, i.e. the cheaper but less powerful Model A being outsold by the far more popular Model B which went on to be the canonical version of the machine. (*)

Being an enhanced replacement for its predecessor rather than a radically new model, the Raspberry Pi Model B+ seemingly mirrors the BBC Micro B+, itself essentially an upgraded version of the BBC B with 64K and some other improvements.

It was also quite short-lived and AFAIK not that well-known. (Personally, I wasn't even aware of its existence at the time). Since the B+ was quickly superseded by the more obviously upgraded BBC Master (**), does this mean the new Pi is likely to be replaced soon with a new Pi Master featuring numeric keypad, cartridge slot and 128KB memory? ;-)

(*) Though to be fair, the Pi Model A came out some time after the Model B IIRC

(**) I remember when a BBC Master arrived in my primary school class. I happily played around with the various settings, safe in the knowledge that anything which got messed up could be fixed by simply turning it off and on again (i.e. clearing the RAM). Of course, junior smartass didn't realise that the shiny new Master stored these settings in battery-backed RAM and hilarity, er... panic ensued when the keyboard repeat rate remained stubbornly messed up and the nice man from Acorn (or wherever) had to come in and reset them.

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