Try out the Raspberry Pi Model 3 B Plus! - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Try out the Raspberry Pi Model 3 B Plus!

Author: ipv1

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: Raspberry Pi 2B+ and the 3

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Nil

Detailed Review:

Introduction

 

Lets the obvious out of the way. The new Raspberry Pi 3B+ is fast. I mean you can really see how fast it is as soon as you boot it up. However there is a lot more to a single board computer than booting up and it the Raspberry Pi is now being used in a number of applications around the world.

 

In this review I take a look at how...

 

Initial Impressions out of the box

 

The new pi is a shiny little piece of tech, litrally thanks to the new Broadcom chip that sits in the middle where a black square used to reside. In the image of the entire B family, the newest member is obvious with a shiny new armor on the CPU as well as the wireless chips. As it's predecessors, the form factor remains the same and so it can fit into the existing enclosures that you may have.

 

 

The Element 14/Newark Packaging comes without an antistatic bag for the single board computer which is odd and I ordered two more for my project so I know it was not just the one I got for the roadtest. That is not a deal breaker but a strange step nonetheless.

 

The microchip logo near the ethernet port suggests a new chip for a better wired experience. Just above it is a 2x2 .1" header which is also a curious addition hinting at added functionality. So far so good.

 

 

The Specs and extra pins

Lets's start with the specs. The (literally) shiny new Raspberry Pi comes with a processor upgrade. The Broadcom BCM2837B0 quad-core A53 (ARMv8) 64-bit @ 1.4GHz is the fastest till date and coupled with the 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM packs a real punch. The ethernet side gets an upgrade as well with a theoretical throughput of 300Mb/s consequent of the use of a USB Channel. The Dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless LAN is inherited from the Raspberry Pi Zero W though a software upgrade will be necessary to make full use of the same. The tin hat processor hints at better heat dissipation and with all the horses packed in the box, it seems justified.

 

The additional pins I talked about are actually useful for POE which means that you need to buy the additional HAT as well as the additional an ethernet switch with POE; A good option for standalone network connected devices. With all these changes, the Power Management IC undergoes an overhaul as well and rightly so as we shall see.

 

First boot

With a fresh sdcard and the latest Raspbian OS image, I started up the board and it came up within a few seconds. Like I said, it is really fast especially if you use a class 10 or better card. One thing that did bother me was a blinking yellow bolt which, as I discovered, is an indication of low voltage on the input side. Considering that I was using the official Raspberry Pi Power supply, this really did not make much sense until I hooked up my trusty bench power supply.

 

 

Set to 5.0 V, the Raspberry Pi 3B+ draws around 720 mA of current and is hungry for more. I bumped it up to 5.1 volts and still the beast yearns for power. Actually it is the voltage measurement circuit and the software that does the rest.

 

Header 1Header 2

 

Finally pushing the input to 5.2 volts make the indication go away. You can probably get away with the 5.1 volt supply as well but I was afraid the software might throttle the CPU to keep it alive. For the rest of my testing, I used the bench power supply to get a bearing of the power consumption of the single board computer.

 

Header 1Header 2

 

 

It is interesting to note that when there is an under-voltage event, the red power led on the board also goes off. This happens frequently with the 2B+ and 3B. A good quality USB cable is recommended to avoid brownouts and other issues. I have faced problems with some cables in the past.

 

Boot -up current comparison

The Raspberry Pi 3B+ seems to draw a lot of power which may be a problem if the application runs on a battery. I currently use a Raspberry Pi 2B+ for a VoIP application which run on a 12 volt car battery with a solar panel for charging. Hence, a power draw comparison is in order and for my next test, I hooked up a raspberry Pi 2B+ and then the new Raspberry Pi 3B+ and logged their boot-up current draws. Here is what I found.

 

Data

 

 

 

The Raspberry Pi 2B+ consumes a peak current of around 815 mA as opposed to the 1.1 Amps for the 3B+. Additionally, the idle current for the Raspberry Pi 3B+ is 600 mA as opposed to 400 mA for the Raspberry Pi 2B+ which is huge considering my application.

 

This leads me to conclude that the processing horsepower comes at a power consumption cost. This also means that the new model will dissipate more heat as opposed to the older model which may not be ideal in certain situations. My tests saw the CPU ramp up to 28.5'C during idle running and ramp up to 41'C with normal chromium operations. This is a good sign for those who want to use the RPi as a desktop substitute.

 

POE applications - Security Camera

This part is not necessarily part of the review but rather a demo of what the PoE addon could be used for. The simplest application I can think of is the using it as a network camera. Given the https://canada.newark.com/raspberry-pi/rpi-8mp-camera-board/camera-board-8-mp-raspberry-pi/dp/77Y6521?COM=superwidget-link_RaspberryPiCamerav2%20CMPNULL , the most preferred way is to use http://lavrsen.dk/foswiki/bin/view/Motion/WebHome

 

sudo apt-get install motion -y

Next create folder for storage

 

mkdir /home/pi/Monitor
sudo chgrp motion /home/pi/Monitor
chmod g+rwx /home/pi/Monitor

 

Next edit the Motion config by

 

sudo nano /etc/motion/motion.conf

 

and change it so that...

 

# Start in daemon (background) mode and release terminal (default: off)
daemon on
...
# Restrict stream connections to localhost only (default: on)
stream_localhost off
...
# Target base directory for pictures and films
# Recommended to use absolute path. (Default: current working directory)
target_dir /home/pi/Monitor

v4l2_palette 15     # Nummer aus der Tabelle davor entnehmen, 15 enstpricht YUYV
...
# Image width (pixels). Valid range: Camera dependent, default: 352
width 640

# Image height (pixels). Valid range: Camera dependent, default: 288
height 480 # Maximum number of frames to be captured per second.

# Valid range: 2-100. Default: 100 (almost no limit).
framerate 10

 

Next enable the daemon by

 

sudo nano /etc/default/motion

start_motion_daemon=yes

 

Lastly, start it up by typing

 

sudo service motion start

 

You should now be able to see the live steam at raspberrypi:8081

 

The framerate will not be the best but it is a solution.

 

Tensor Flow

With the added CPU power, I have started experimenting with TensorFlow on the Raspberry Pi. The installation instructions at https://www.tensorflow.org/install/install_raspbian are pretty straight forward and I wont repeat them however I have to say that Video applications can really benefit from the added power. OpenCV algorithms perform much better and though I don't have any videos yet, the results are incredible.

 

Conclusion

Benchmarks aside, the biggest question in my mind was whether the Raspberry Pi 3B+ will replace every other SBC in your kit? The answer is no because each version has a place in your projects. The Raspberry Pi 3B+ will be an excellent addition to your arsenal of project building tools and more so if you intend to use it for a desktop machine. The performance is incredible and if you plan for it to do any heavy lifting, I suggest getting a heatsink and a fan just in case. The general purpose SBC does not compete with handhelds such as Smartphones or Tablets that run effectively on battery power though a snapdragon based Raspberry Pi would be really cool.

 

For those who do not feel their existing Pi is under-powered, you can skip this one though if you are considering the Raspberry Pi 3, try out the 3B+ instead. This current offering is a great addition to the Raspberry Pi family and takes one step ahead(and away from the Raspberry Pi Zero series). I personally have one running on my bench with the Sense HAT and Tensor Flow for testing some applications that I am trying out.

 

For now, 'Scotty, I need more power'.

 

Reference

 

https://www.element14.com/community/community/raspberry-pi

Anonymous
  • Hi Allen,

    The new Power Management IC reports undervoltage which is why we see the power bolt sign. Imagine you turn on a large appliance in your home at which point the lights kinda dim down for a fraction of a second. The PMIC here reports those fluctuations which may be an indication of an underpower converter. Most of these converters are designed to work off both 110V and 220V which should not make a difference on the output though I feel has a certain impact on the power regulation.

     

    I am guessing it will not cause a problem in normal applications however if you intend to design an application for a more ciritical application, I suggest going for an alternative.

     

    IP

  • I tried the same thing with three different RPi 3B+s. Same result.

  • Hello , nice review!.

     

    I think you should check your Raspberry Pi's power supply or the Pi itself. I did similar power tests in my review (I also tried USB with my Keysight E36313A) and found that powering the Pi through USB is very tricky, but it was always successful with the official Raspberry Pi power adapter -no lightning bolt-. The previous version (Pi 3B) had the same behavior/results under same test conditions; that is why I think something may be not working ok for you -maybe the Pi itself-.

    Good luck!.

    Luis



  • Your comment on the lightning bolt indication is important.  If this low voltage warning happens when using the official Raspberry Pi power supply, will there be any damage to the rPi?  Does it throttle the CPU during low voltage?  It would be helpful to hear from raspberrypi.org.  The amperage graphs show a peak of ~ 1.1 amps, but the official power supply says it can supply 2.5 amps.  That should be enough margin, why the voltage warning on screen?

  • Nice road test report.

     

    DAB