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Raspberry Pi Model B+ price drops to $25

May 14, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 3,622 views
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The RPi Foundation announced a $10 price cut for the Raspberry Pi Model B+ and launched a “Sense HAT” add-on. Meanwhile, Pi competition continues to emerge.

When the quad-core Raspberry Pi 2 Model B arrived in February with the same $35 price tag as the old Pi 2 Model B+, we knew something had to give. Now the Raspberry Pi Foundation, which previously promised to continue supporting the B+, has dropped its price by $10 to $25, only $5 more than the stripped down Model A+.

Pi Model B+ (left) compared to the newer Pi 2 Model B
(click images to enlarge)


(click to enlarge)

We’re not sure if the timing of the announcement had anything to do with Next Thing Co’s hugely successful Kickstarter campaign for its $9 and up Chip SBC. Or perhaps the foundation’s comfort level rose after selling “well over” a million Pi 2 units in the last three months, according to the Eben Upton blog entry today. Even at $35, the single-core ARM11-based Model B+ has continued to sell well, writes Upton.

In truth, the $9, Cortex-A8 based Chip is really not much more than a blip on the radar for the Pi Foundation, which arguably has an even better bargain with its much faster, $35 Pi 2. The Chip SBC, which has now exceeded $1.2 million in funding, won’t ship until December, and versions with real-world display ports won’t arrive until May 2016 at $19 (VGA) and $24 (HDMI) plus shipping.

Other Raspberry Pi alternatives

There are still a number of Raspberry Pi clones or near-clones to choose from, although none have matched the RPi’s price/performance ratio, especially since the Pi 2 upped the ante.

A trademark dispute has slowed the momentum of two rival next-generation Banana Pi clones. On May 5, however, SinoVoip posted an update on the issue, announcing that Chinese OEM technology giant Foxconn is stepping in as an arbitrator on the dispute.

Since the Banana Pi project forked last fall, followed by threats of legal action on both sides, the official community site has changed hands from SinoVoip to LeMaker. Both projects have shipped their respective boards. LeMaker’s Banana Pi Pro B+ clone sells for $49, featuring a faster dual-core, Cortex-A7 Allwinner A20 SoC. SinoVoip’s Banana Pi M2, which has a quad-core Cortex-A7 Allwinner A31 that is very similar to the Pi 2’s Broadcom BCM2836, goes for $59.

Left to right: Original Banana Pi, Banana Pi M2, Banana Pro
(click images to enlarge)

In the new agreement, Foxconn will “assist in forming a non-profit organization (NPO) with un-biased creditable open source community figures as board members, to handle all Banana Pi intellectual properties,” says the report. Foxconn stepped in because the company came up with the original idea for a Banana Pi clone and backed the original project. The update goes on to say that LeMaker has agreed to hand over its trademarks once the NPO is set up.

In an email response from SinoVoip’s Judy Huang, she seemed to suggest that only SinoVoip boards would be supported under the new Foxconn-established Banana Pi organization. In addition to SinoVoip’s currently available Banana Pi BPI-M1 (or Banana Pi M1) and BPI-M1+, these will include the new, quad-core BPI-M2, as well as two more specialized boards covered in our initial Dec. 2014 coverage of the BPI-M2 and Banana Pi Pro. The dual-core A20-based BPI-R1 wireless router board now sells for $65 on AliExpress. The ARM9-based BPI-D1 low-end camera board is going for $39.

The new Banana Pi organization will also support a new BPI-G1 smart gateway boarde, which is now selling at AliExpress for $100. As with the Android-ready BPI-R1 and Linux-ready BPI-D1, there’s no Raspberry Pi compatibility on the BPI-G1. In fact, it doesn’t even run Linux. The device, which supports WiFi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee, is equipped with a Cortex-M3 microcontroller.

Left to right: Orange Pi, Orange Pi Mini, Orange Pi Plus
(click images to enlarge)

Still other Raspberry Pi alternatives include Hardkernel’s $35 Odroid-C1, featuring four 1.5GHz Cortex-A5 cores, dimensions matching the Pi, and a quasi-Pi-compatible 40-pin expansion bus. And then there’s a trio of Orange Pi SBCs from Shenzhen Xunlong Software, which are served up in $40, $50, and $70 flavors.

Other RPi news

In other recent RPi news, the foundation announced a Sense HAT using the RPI’s Hardware Attached on Top (HAT) add-on standard.

Raspberry Pi with a Sense HAT
(click image to enlarge)

The Sense HAT features an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer, as well as air pressure, temperature, and humidity sensors. An 8×8 LED display and “teeny joystick” are also included. The Sensor HAT has yet to be priced, and will be aimed at the educational market. Further details are available at the Astro PI site.

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5 responses to “Raspberry Pi Model B+ price drops to $25”

  1. Finn Nielsen says:

    Your article says: “There are still a number of Raspberry Pi clones or near-clones to choose from, although none have matched the RPi’s price/performance ratio, especially since the Pi 2 upped the ante.”

    That statement is major league incorrect. The Odroid C1, at $35 upgrades the quad core CPU to 1.5 GHz (compared to only 900 MHz for Pi) and provides a better (and better supported) dual graphics core.

    • CFWhitman says:

      Well, the Pi 2 uses Cortex A7 cores rather than Cortex A5 cores, so a straight MHz comparison is not entirely accurate. Let’s just say the CPUs in the two units are fairly comparable in performance (they each have their own slight advantages).

      I’m not sure that I’d say the graphics core for the Odroid is better supported. For Linux purposes the Video Core IV processor is pretty well supported in Raspberry Pi software these days. I would say, however, that the Mali 450 based graphics core for the Odroid is more powerful than the one for the Pi 2 (though the Video Core IV processor’s power is impressive considering when it was first released). The last I knew, though, there was no acceleration yet for the Linux desktop on Mali 450 based devices, though I think they work fine for video playback in Kodi.

      In any event, you are correct in saying that the price/performance ratio of the Odroid-C1 is arguably better than, or at least on par with the Raspberry Pi 2. The Raspberry Pi 2 has more extensive community support for Linux, but the Odroid gives you the opportunity to run Android if you want to. It’s really the only board that is truly competitive with the Raspberry Pi 2 on a price/performance comparison.

  2. Finn Nielsen says:

    Most of the added hardware features of the A7 cannot be used on a RPi2 in any case. As an example, the Pi graphics hardware will not support virtualization. The Pi has no gigabit ethernet, no realtime clock, no eMMC support (a big performance issue). The two systems are actually not very comparable in performance – even though they are the same price.

    • CFWhitman says:

      Well, if they are running at the same clock speed, A7 cores are faster than A5 cores regardless of whether you use the added hardware features or not. However, the C1 is clocked enough faster so that according to ARM Holdings MIPS/MHz estimates, it should have a significant performance advantage. I rather think, though, that the biggest apparent advantage of the C1 would be the eMMC support.

      On the other hand, some of the disadvantages of the C1 are an ungrounded mini HDMI port (as opposed to a full-sized grounded port), software GPIO interrupt handling (vs hardware), and being powered only via a barrel connector adapter (rather than available power through any of its USB ports). At the moment, there is not as much built in hardware support in the Linux kernel (though this may very well change), thus limiting the Linux distributions that are ready to run on it. I mentioned before the lack of desktop graphics acceleration for Linux. Also, to take advantage of the eMMC support you have to spend more money.

      Don’t get me wrong. I think the C1 looks great, and I will probably pick one up. However, it is likely to cost a little more altogether for the accessories required to get it running (though not too much). The C1 is a no brainer for Android applications, but for various Linux projects, you have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the two platforms.

  3. Finn Nielsen says:

    The original article claimed “There are still a number of Raspberry Pi clones or near-clones to choose from, although none have matched the RPi’s price/performance ratio, especially since the Pi 2 upped the ante.”

    That statement is inaccurate. No matter how much dust you throw up on other design differences, the Pi2 is clearly and unarguably not the price/performance leader.

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