This is a detailed comparision of the two most powerful development boards (Raspberry Pi Vs Beaglebone Black).
What is Raspberry Pi?
Raspberry pi is a series of pocket sized single board computer devloped by Raspberry Pi foundation in UK. This board is designed with a clear intention of promoting education of computer science for school and college students.
Originally these PI boards are developed by joint agreement of Raspberry PI Foundation, Newark element14 and RS Components and Egoman. In China and Taiwan, Egoman producing several versions of this board which can be distinguished from other pi by their red colouring and lack of FCC/CE marks. The hardware is same across all the manufacturers in the world.
The original raspberry pi board is designed on the Broadcom BCM2835 SoC (System On Chip), which is an ARM1176JZF-S 700 Mhz processor with VideoCore IV GPU. Originally the board has 256 MB of RAM in later versions (Model B and B+) it was upgraded to 512 MB. For extra storage and boot options it support MicroSD card in all versions of raspberry pi.
R Pi support arch linux ARM and debian distributions and Python, C, C++, java as the main stream programming languages. In the month of febuary 2015, the next generation raspberry pi, raspberry pi 2, was officially launched. The new computer board will initially be available only in one configuration (Model B) and features a broadcom BCM2836 SoC. It will be available with quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU and a VideoCore IV dual core GPU; 1GB of RAM with remaining specification being similar to those of the previous generation model B+.
35 US Dollors
Same as for Raspberry Pi 1 plus Windows 10 and additional variants of Linux such as Ubuntu and Android
900 Mhz Quad-core ARM Cortex-A7
1 GB RAM
What is BegalBone Black?
The BeagleBone Black is the latest addition to the BeagleBoard.org family and like its’ predecessors, is designed to address the Open Source Community, early adopters, and anyone interested in a low cost ARM Cortex A8 based processor. It has been equipped with a minimum set of features to allow the user to experience the power of the processor and is not intended as a full development platform as many of the features and interfaces supplied by the processor are not accessible from the BeagleBone Black via onboard support of some interfaces.
The BeagleBone Black is intended to be compatible with the original BeagleBone as much as possible. There are a several areas where there are differences between the two designs. The BeagleBone Black is a relative newcomer to the world of easy to use microprocessor breakouts, however, what it missed out on in time-to-market, the BeagleBone Black has more than made up for in capability. The BeagleBone Black has evolved out of the long lineage of BegalBoard Product into the current version; a small form-factor, very powerful, and extremely expandable product that allows builders, makers, artists, and engineers the ability to create truly innovative projects. The BeagleBoard family was originally designed to provide a relatively low-cost development platform for hobbyists to try out the powerful new system-on-a-chip (SOC) devices that were essentially capable of performing all the duties of a computer on a single chip.
The original BeagleBoard is currently priced at $125 while its successor, the BeagleBoard-xM, is priced at $145. So even though these systems were very powerful, they were just not at the right price to compel people to buy them in mass quantities. After the BeagleBoard-xM, the BeagleBoard team created the original BeagleBone. It is essentially a smaller, stripped down version of the BeagleBoard.
While the BeagleBone was a good start, it still wasn’t as capable as it could have been, and at $89 it was still a bit too pricey for the hobbyist market.
In late 2012 the BeagleBoard team finally released the newest version of the BeagleBone, called the BeagleBone Black. When you look at the picture will tell you why they chose this name.
This version has maintained the same form-factor as the BeagleBone but added quite a bit of useful functions and is generally an all around better device; to top it all off, the BeagleBone Black is priced at a very affordable $45.
If you would like to learn a little bit more about the BeagleBone or BeagleBoard devices, you can visit the official community page or the manuafacturer community page. This is the best way to learn the intricate details of these platforms, and will let you more fully evaluate if the BeagleBone Black is right for you.
Comparision between Raspberry Pi and BegalBone Black
Ease of Setup
Setting up the Raspberry Pi a bit laborious. Since the board does not come with an included micro-USB cable to supply power, you must obtain one on your own. Additionally, the Raspberry Pi does not come with a pre-installed operating system or on-board storage. You will need to obtain an SD card to boot the Raspberry Pi. Once you have an SD card you will need to download and install the operating system on the card. After you have taken care of these prerequisites, the Raspberry Pi should be ready for use.
Setting up the begalBone Black on the other hand is quite possibly as simple as it gets. Using the included Mini-USB cable, you can attach the BeagleBone Black to your computer to supply power. The BeagleBone Black will boot from the on-board storage without requiring any more work on your end. If you would like to be able to interact with the BeagleBone Black from your computer you may need to install some included drivers, but this is relatively painless.
Winner: BeagleBone Black by a long-shot
This is really kind of a subjective category since the requirements are different for everybody. If you already have an SD card, micro-USB cable, HDMI cable, and a keyboard to use with the Raspberry Pi, then there won’t be any extra cost.
For the BeagleBone Black, it is quite possible that you won’t need any extra parts to end up with a usable board. If you want to extend functionality beyond just the basics, it is likely you will need to buy a MicroSD card and a micro-HDMI cable.
In addition, the two USB ports on the Raspberry Pi mean that you may be able to get by without a USB hub. Since the BeagleBone Black only has one USB port, unless you have something like a Logitech Unifying Receiver, you will need a USB hub to use a mouse and keyboard.
In my case, the BeagleBone Black was slightly cheaper overall but since there are so many factors to consider here, I will leave this one up to you.
If there is one thing that Business types and Engineers can agree on it’s that everything comes down to the connections you make, and oh boy the BeagleBone Black can make some connections.
With two 46 pin headers, the BeagleBone Black has a total of 92 possible connection points. Some of these connections are reserved, but almost all of them can be reconfigured to be used if needed. Taking a look at the following list of possibilities:
3 I2C buses
5 serial ports
65 GPIO pins
8 PWM outputs
7 analog inputs (1.8V max 12 bit A/D converters)
With such an impressive list of interfaces, the BeagleBone Black is a real powerhouse in this category. I’m not aware of any other platforms at this size and price point that provide so many interface options, a characteristic that is a real blessing for many applications.
Looking at the Raspberry Pi, we have a 26 pin header for making connections with the following possible interfaces:
8 GPIO pins
1 UART interface
1 SPI bus
1 I2C bus
This is a much smaller list but would be perfectly adequate for an I2C, SPI, or UART based project, as well as any project which doesn’t require external interfacing. The Raspberry Pi’s true power is in a different category which we will take a look at soon.
Winner: BeagleBone Black, no contest
The processor is perhaps the single most important factor in determining how fast your system will perform. The stock configurations give us a 1 GHz processor on the BeagleBone Black and a 700 MHz processor on the Raspberry Pi.
In an effort to put the two on a more level playing field, let’s assume that you have overclocked the Raspberry Pi to perform at the same clock speed as the AM3359.
The next defining feature we want to look at is the processor architecture. The Raspberry Pi uses the slightly older ARMv6 instruction set while the BeagleBone Black uses the ARMv7 instruction set, which is currently the most common architecture among embedded systems.
The newer architecture of the BeagleBone Black lends itself to more than just bragging rights though. One advantage of using the more modern instruction set is that the processor on the BeagleBone Black is more widely supported by software developers. Notably, some operating systems are no longer designed to be run on the ARMv6 instruction set, including Ubuntu which Dropped support in late April.
Another advantage the ARMv7 instruction set enjoys over the ARMv6 goes beyond support, and includes actual performance enhancements. While the list of improvements between v6 and v7 is a long one, some of the more impressive improvements like implementing a superscalar architecture, including instructions for SIMD operations, and an improved branch prediction algorithm lead to some pretty amazing performance increases.
Specifically, even when running at the same clock speed, the processor on the BeagleBone Black is nearly TWICE AS FAST as the processor on the Raspberry Pi. (ARM A8 runs 2000 MIPS/MHz, ARM11 runs 1250 MIPS/MHz)
Winner: BeagleBone Black
This is one category in which the Raspberry Pi really shines. With the integrated Videocore graphics processor, the Raspberry Pi is capable of decoding 1080p video streams. Rendering OpenGL, and even running Minecraft. In addition to the impressive graphics processing, the Raspberry Pi also offers a full sized HDMI connector and a composite video output for lower quality connections.
All of this combines to put the BeagleBone Black on the defensive. The BeagleBone Black does have built in graphics support, but is just not quite as powerful and does not support 1080p. To compound the lower graphics processing power, the BeagleBone Black only offers a micro-HDMI video connection for interfacing with your monitor or TV.
While there are add-on capes which increase your connectivity options, there is no substitution for the graphics computation power of the Videocore system on the Raspberry Pi.
Winner: Raspberry Pi by a solid margin
This one really isn’t much of a showdown. With the BeagleBone Black allowing you to output audio over micro-HDMI only and the Raspberry Pi supporting audio over HDMI or through a 3.5 mm audio jack, the Raspberry Pi has more capability out of the box.
Looking at the broader perspective, there is an add-on board for the BeagleBone Black which gives adds a 3.5 mm audio out as well as a 3.5 mm audio in and some extra audio processing capability.
Winner: Raspberry Pi
It is quite frankly pretty difficult to find any reliable data on this category. The Raspberry Pi, on the other hand, has many different user reported measurements that vary so widely I’m not even sure what is reasonable anymore. The reports which seem most reputable show a slightly lower current draw from the Raspberry Pi.
If you have any reliable data for either one of these boards as far as power consumption goes, please let me know in the comments.
Winner: Raspberry Pi by a small margin based on unreliable data
Despite my best efforts, I can’t seem to find any reliable data on the size of each platform’s respective community. Seeing as how (as of April 2013) the Raspberry Pi has shipped more than one-million units, I think it is safe to assume that the Raspberry Pi has developed a larger following. On top of this the Raspberry Pi gets much better media coverage and overall exposure.
These considerations are all important if you are unfamiliar with Linux systems or electronics in general, as well as if you are planning on undertaking a large project which you may decide you need help with.
A quick Google insights search shows that while the BeagleBone Black has a growing community, the Raspberry Pi still generates about 13 times more web traffic.
Winner: Raspberry Pi by a long-shot
Now that we have looked at each category in detail, it is a simple matter to draw some conclusions about which circumstances should lead you to choose one board over the other.
When the BeagleBone Black is the Right Choice
Projects that need to interface with many external sensors – The incredible number of pins on the BeagleBone Black and the many bus options allow you to easily interface with pretty much any device out there.
Anything requiring small form factor but high speed processing – For example this super cool 33 node Raspberry Pi computing cluster would have been much better off using the BeagleBone Black, both from a price and performance standpoint.
Projects that you may wish to commercialize – Since the Raspberry Pi is more of a closed-source environment, it is impossible to make your own minimal versions. The open nature of the BeagleBone would allow you to just take the most important features and directly port that into your own design.
As an embedded system learning platform – The Raspberry Pi has its roots in education, but the fact that the BeagleBone Black works out of the box leads me to believe it is a better solution for learning about embedded systems.
For when you want it to “just work” – The fact that the BeagleBone Black works right out of the box is a huge bonus and allows you to get up and going in a few minutes rather than an hour or more.
When the Raspberry Pi is the Right Choice
Multimedia based projects – With the significantly more powerful graphics processing and larger number of connection options, the Raspberry Pi is a no-brainer for multimedia interfaces.
Community driven ideas – If you have a project that will in some way rely on the community for proper operation, you should choose the very active community of the Raspberry Pi. If you just think you will need support though, the BeagleBone community is very helpful and many Raspberry Pi projects will easily port to the BeagleBone Black.
As a graphical learning platform – Since the BeagleBone Black does not have quite the video capability of the Raspberry Pi, I would recommend the Raspberry Pi for learning about Linux in a graphical environment. Though to be fair you could do the same thing in a Virtual Machine, it just isn’t quite as much fun.
Raspberry Pi Model B+
Beaglebone Black Rev3
Brodcom BCM825 ARM11, 700MHz GPU, Power VR SGX530
TI 3358 Cortex-A8, 1GHz GPU, Video Core IV
512MB DDR3, SDRAM
4GB 8-bit eMMC Flash
10/100M Ethernet (USB to Ethernet chipset)
10/100M Ethernet (Support by SOC)
1*USB2.0 OTG, 1*USB2.0 HOST
1*HDMI, 1*LCD Interface
1*SD Port, 1*UART, 1*Audio Output, PWM, TWI/I2C, SPI, 40* GPIO
1*Sdport(Compatible with SD and eMMC), 1*UART, 1*jtag, CAN, LCD, UART, eMMC, ADC, I2C, SPI, PWM
USB 5V 322ma@ idle rated at 700mA
USB 5V DCJack 210 to 460mA @ 5V
3.37 x 2.125
8.6 x 5.3cm
Debian GNU/Linux Fedora Arch Linux RISC OS
Debian, Angstrom, Ubuntu, Android