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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Single-Board Computers

The BeagleBone (http://is.gd/A5m89F) is perhaps the Raspberry Pi’s chief competitor in the single-board computer market. The BeagleBone is, like the Raspberry Pi, an ARM-based, credit card-sized Linux computer.

The BeagleBone is actually the smaller sibling of the BeagleBoard. Both boards are manufactured by the legendary Texas Instruments (TI), which lends immediate credibility to the Beagle projects.

Serious gearheads prefer the BeagleBone because its ARM Cortex A8 processor (running at 720 MHz) supports the ARMv7 instruction set, as opposed to the ARMv6 set included with the Pi.

Because of its support for ARMv7, the BeagleBone’s benchmark performance is much better than that of the ARMv6-equipped Raspberry Pi. You also have a wider range of Linux distributions to choose from with ARMv7-compatible devices such as the ‘Bone.

The BeagleBone and the Raspberry Pi aren’t exactly “finger in glove” partners like the Arduino and Pi. Really, they are competitors in the same or highly similar market space. Table 3.1 compares and contrasts the technical specifications for both systems.

TABLE 3.1 Comparison Between the Raspberry Pi Model B and the BeagleBone

Raspberry Pi Model B

BeagleBone

List Price

$35 USD

$89 USD

Dimensions

3.37" x 2.125"

3.4" x 2.1"

SoC

Broadcom BCM2835

TI AM3359

CPU

700 MHz, single core

720 MHz, single core

GPU

VideoCore IV

PowerVR

RAM

512MB

256MB

USB

2

2

GPIO

Yes

Yes

Camera

Yes (future development)

No

Development

Squeak/Scratch; Python

Squeak/Scratch; Python

Video Out

HDMI; Composite

None

Here’s a noncomprehensive list of other single-board computer manufacturers:

“Why is it important that I understand the Raspberry Pi’s competition?” you might ask. In my estimation, it is important for you to know that there exist alternatives to the Raspberry Pi. You may find, for example, that the Pi is the best fit for the types of learning goals and projects that you have in mind. By contrast, you may also save yourself time, money, and frustration by concluding at the outset that you should consider an Arduino or a BeagleBone rather than a Pi.

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