Raspberry Pi 2 vs. Raspberry Pi 1 vs. Beaglebone Black vs. Intel Edison

I applaud the Raspberry Pi 2 with ARMv7 quad-core CPU and LPDDR2 RAM release. The benchmarks are very impressive and show much higher, several times faster performance than the Raspberry Pi 1

 

My opinion on the original Raspberry Pi (non +, model B 256MB and 512MB RAM) boards was fairly sour due to the anemic ARMv6 single core CPU. Generally speaking, the Beaglebone Black and Intel Edison have been substantially better choices for the maker and professional embedded systems designer.

Upon receiving the Raspberry Pi 2 and loading the latest Raspian image, my impressions are far more favorable than the Raspberry Pi 1. Using the LXDE graphical desktop, the Raspberry Pi 2 is useful for basic desktop use. At this time, Firefox is not available for the Raspberry Pi 2, and HTML5 is not fully supported in the GNOME Web browser.

The hacks I saw on the web for Chromium using Pepper didn’t work for me, but I mostly plan to use this as a headless device, so I didn’t pursue it futher.

In short, the painfully and in my opinion uselessly slow desktop graphical environment of the Raspberry Pi 1 has been overcome with the much faster multicore ARMv7 CPU of the Raspberry Pi 2, which is usable as a basic desktop, much like the Beaglebone Black.

The Beaglebone Black has been a much better choice than the Raspberry Pi 1 due in part to the PRU, DDR3L RAM (faster), and ARMv7 CPU.

The Intel Edison has been a much better choice than the Raspberry Pi and in some applications better than the Beaglebone Black due to the Edison’s dual-core x86 CPU, fast RAM, and extremely favorable energy efficiency. Depending on your application, the Edison may run 10x as long or more on battery than the Raspberry Pi (1 or 2) and Beaglebone Black.

Raspberry Pi: Practical Uses Review

The Raspberry Pi ARM computers have excited a lot of people — I was in the first groups to have them, having Model B of the 256MB and 512MB varieties. Here are some things I’ve tried using the Raspberry Pi Model B 256/512MB for, with the following number ranking (my opinion only, others may fervently disagree).

In summary, the Raspberry Pi is a capable FTP/SSH server, but for field deployments, I would choose the Beaglebone Black as the Beaglebone Black has a CPU nearly twice as powerful, native Ethernet, onboard SSD, better onboard I/O (for local sensors), etc.

Ranking key:
1: Cannot Install / Not working if Installed
2: Extremely slow, maybe single patient user only
3: slow, but perhaps usable for patient 1-3 users
4: adequate, may handle a handful of users (family, small club)
5: great, handles multiple concurrent users, not so much slower than a 10-year old Pentium 4 PC

Groupware (email/calendar) server:
Citadel
Rank: 3
As of this writing, Citadel was the only known easy to install groupware server. Accessing features took a few seconds per click, and it didn’t seem that users accustomed to using Google or Office 365 would have the patience for Citadel on Raspberry Pi.

FTP server:
Rank: 4.5
Like SSH below, the Raspberry Pi can handle a few connections at once, but may well be limited to less than raw Ethernet speeds due to:
1) CPU: USB-ethernet onboard conversion
2) CPU: encryption (if using SSL/SSH, etc.)
3) CPU: filesystem — if using external HDD with FUSE (nfts,exfat,etc.)
4) CPU: USB HDD — takes some CPU to manage the transfer from USB to external HDD
5) SD card: read/write speed

Web LAMP server:
I have not done this personally, but you can search for people using the Raspberry Pi as an NGINX or WordPress server and it does seem to work live on their Raspberry Pi. example:
dingleberrypi.com

Desktop workstation:
2 – 2.5
With LXDE, as of Aug 2013, with Raspbian the Raspberry Pi is just too painfully slow to be used as a desktop replacement. Web browsing (e.g. Gmail) is painfully slow and only tolerable in desparate situations. The Beaglebone Black on the other hand is just fast enough that one MIGHT be able to use it with LXDE desktop.

SSH server (port forwarding, SSHFS, remote management):
Rank 4 – 4.5
The Raspberry Pi does quite adequately in this regard — you will feel just a bit of the CPU limitation when using say >5Mb/sec, perhaps due to the USB-Ethernet adapter internal to the Raspberry Pi Model B as well as the SSH encryption itself–this shouldn’t be too hard to measure for the curious.

FM transmitter:
Rank 4.5
The remarkable project at:

http://www.icrobotics.co.uk/wiki/index.php/Turning_the_Raspberry_Pi_Into_an_FM_Transmitter

works splendidly — the program can be modified to transmit narrowband (~ 5kHz) FM on the 2 meter ham band as well. I can think of some compelling uses for a $25 short-range FM transmitter!