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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Best alternatives to the Raspberry Pi

2014-12-26: here's also an update of the new rivals for 2015.


For a lot of people the Raspberry Pi opened the door to a cheap but quite powerful Single Board Computer (SBC). Its success also revealed that there’s a huge market for these kind of devices. The result (as everybody knows): wherever there’s success, there’re competitors.

As some interesting alternatives where launched recently and because the list of competitors keeps growing, I decided to pick the four alternatives I currently like the most.

Before sharing this list, I want to point out that this not exact science. As many other comparisons have already point out, every board has its own strengths and weaknesses and the best choice will largely depend on the project build around the board. A second big differentiator is of course the price. These boards go from $50 to $116.99. With these things in mind, here are my favourite competitors for the Raspberry Pi.


CubieTruck





http://cubieboard.org/tag/cubietruck/
Price: $99

Highlight

Easy to hook up a 2,5“ SATA drive without the need of an extra power supply. Comes with a nice enclosure out of the box (with mount possibilities and cables to hook up a 2,5” drive)

Main benefits over the RPI:

  • Storage reliability: possibility to store your data on a hard disk drive instead of on a SD card.
  • Performance:
    • Dual core CPU gives extra processing power
    • SSD drive boost you IO operations
  • IO:
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • Onboard Bluetooth

Board specs:

  • AllWinner A20 SoC (dual-core ARM Cortex-A7 @ 1 GHz CPU, with Mali–400MP2 GPU).
  • 2 GiB DDR3 @ 480 MHz
  • 8 GB NAND flash built-in, 1x microSD slot, 1x SATA 2.0 port.
  • HDMI 1080p output
  • 10/100/1000 RTL8211E Ethernet connector
  • 2x USB Host, 1x USB OTG, 1x CIR.
  • S/PDIF, headphone and HDMI audio out, mic and line-in via extended pins
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on board with PCB antenna (Broadcom BCM4329/BCM40181)
  • 54 extended pins including I²C, SPI

BeagleBone Black (Rev C)




http://beagleboard.org/black
Price: $55

Highlight

If it comes to power per dollar then the BeagleBone Black is king.

Main benefits over the RPI:

  • Performance:
    • 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8
  • Storage:
    • 4GB on-board flash memory
  • IO:
    • 2x 46 pin headers

Board specs:

  • AM335x 1GHz ARM® Cortex-A8
  • 512MB DDR3 RAM
  • 4GB 8-bit eMMC on-board flash storage
  • 3D graphics accelerator
  • NEON floating-point accelerator
  • 2x PRU 32-bit microcontrollers
  • USB
  • USB host
  • Ethernet
  • HDMI
  • 2x 46 pin headers

Banana Pi




http://www.bananapi.org/
Price: $50

Highlight

Raspberry Pi compatible layout: Banana Pi is a fork of the Raspberry Pi project using different components while maintaining compatibility as much as possible.
The main SoC chip is different. Raspberry Pi has a Broadcom ARM11 core chip while Banana Pi has Allwinner ARM Cortex-A7 dual cores. The ARM architecture is the major differences. Banana Pi has more features enabling by ARM v7 architecture and still be compatible to run applications on ARMv6. The physical dimension of Banana Pi is wider than Raspberry.

Main benefits over the RPI:

  • Performance:
    • ARM Cortex-A7 dual-core CPU
    • 1GiB DDR3 SDRAM
  • IO:
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • On-board microphone,
    • SATA connector
    • IR receiver
    • OTG connector

Board specs:

  • Allwinner A20 SoC (Cortex-A7 dual-core CPU, with Mali–400MP2 GPU).
  • 1GiB DDR3 SDRAM
  • SD slot (maximum 64GB),
  • 7-pin SATA data port (with a separate power connector), supporting maximum 1 TB hard drive.
  • HDMI 1080p/CVBS output.
  • 10/100/1000 Ethernet connector.
  • 2x USB Host, 1x USB OTG, 1x CSI camera connector.
  • 26 extended pins including I²C, SPI, UART, CAN bus
  • Power and Reset switches mounted on board.
  • Onboard IR receiver
  • Microphone-In
  • Ø3.5mm Audio Jack
  • Expects 5V/2A source to microUSB connector.
  • Dimensions: 9.2cm × 6cm; (The board size of Banana Pi is similar to Raspberry Pi)

HummingBoard




http://www.solid-run.com/products/hummingboard/
Price: $44.99 - $116.99

Highlight

Another contender for the Raspberry Pi is the HummingBoard, it packs a nice amount of power and connectivity into the same size and shape as the Raspberry Pi. Just released and available in 3 flavours.

Main benefits over the RPI:

  • Performance:
    • ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core CPU
    • 1GiB DDR3 SDRAM
  • IO:
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • On-board microphone,
    • mSATA connector
    • IR receiver
    • PCI-Express

Board specs (i2eX)

  • Freescale i.MX6 Dual
  • 1GB SDRAM
  • GPU GC2000
  • OOpenGL ES1.1,2.0 Quad Shader
  • Multi format video decoder and encoder
  • HDMI 1080p with CEC 1.4, 3D support
  • LVDS Display Out
  • MIPI 2 Lane CSI–2
  • Wired Network 10/100/1000
  • PCI-Express Gen 2
  • mSATA II
  • 2 USB 2.0 Ports
  • UHS–1 Micro SD interface
  • RTC with backup battery
  • Coax SPDIF audio out
  • Audio Out Stereo out and MIC In
  • Infra Red Remote Control Receive
  • GPIO header UART, 8 GPIO, SPI with 2 CS, I2C