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BeagleBone Black: The Sub-$50 ARM Linux Board

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  • BeagleBone Black: The Sub-$50 ARM Linux Board

    Phoronix: BeagleBone Black: The Sub-$50 ARM Linux Board

    The BeagleBone Black has been one of the popular low-cost ARM development boards in recent months for budget-minded hobbyists due to its $45 price-tag, being Linux friendly, and support for powering off a USB cable. While it may be a cheap ARM development board, is its performance too dauntingly slow?

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=19887

  • #2
    There's also the ODROID-U3 community edition, which is pretty cheap.

    I'm looking at a device to use as a low-power always-on home webserver thingy that I stick next to the router at home. The Utilite is a leading runner at the moment, but the U3 is also in the running (although with a 16GB eMMC it isn't as cheap). I just want a device that will be well supported by Linux now and in the future.

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    • #3
      You should have compared it with the RPi...

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      • #4
        Then there is the olimex lime. Costs about 30EUR, uses an Allwinner A10, which has a Mali, and an actual community behind it. It has hdmi, ethernet, SATA, and tons of other connections on the 0.5 pitch headers on the board it self.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by libv View Post
          Then there is the olimex lime. Costs about 30EUR, uses an Allwinner A10, which has a Mali, and an actual community behind it. It has hdmi, ethernet, SATA, and tons of other connections on the 0.5 pitch headers on the board it self.
          Oh, and it is full OSHW.

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          • #6
            BBB

            BBB tries maintain both prespectives like electronic kits(Arduino...) and embedded development (UDOO, inte baytrail kit, Raspberry Pi)

            A10-OLinuXino-LIME is a nice alternative too.

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            • #7
              Well, at least it's ARMv7. That ARMv6 on the Pi is getting pretty long in the tooth...

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              • #8
                GPIO

                The Beaglebone black has ~65 GPIO pins, which makes it very interesting. You can use it to control anything you want. There's an easy javascript library to control the pins from within the browser.

                Speed is not the goal of this board.

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                • #9
                  This is a cheap ARMv7 embedded development board. I suppose I would have been disappointed too if I were going into it looking for a mini PC.

                  The reason you have so many single core boards despite them being slower, is that hard real-time multi-core scheduling is pretty tough and rarely useful. There are just not too many ways around the serial execution of: Take sensor input -> Filter -> Compute -> Output to storage \ display.

                  More so, An extra core that is hardly ever used is a power-drain for people that are interested in running off a battery.

                  Still, regardless of reasoning, it leads to the same conclusion: Buy a different board if you're looking into running something more Desktop'y.
                  Last edited by c117152; 02-17-2014, 07:41 AM. Reason: your->you're

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                  • #10
                    Would be nice if Michael or someone made a table of the good and bad sides of all these ARM boards. There is one wikipedia page, but it's terribly lacking. People really should stop buying Raspberries. They're legacy crap.

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                    • #11
                      The beaglebone is for sure not for desktop use. But is perfekt for robotics, cnc, 3d printer and other project where you need realtime control. That's where the two PRU's come to life and shine.
                      See http://blog.machinekit.io/p/hardware-capes.html for a long list of capes for cnc/3D print control.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by caligula View Post
                        Would be nice if Michael or someone made a table of the good and bad sides of all these ARM boards. There is one wikipedia page, but it's terribly lacking. People really should stop buying Raspberries. They're legacy crap.
                        http://iqjar.com/jar/an-overview-and...cro-computers/

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                        • #13
                          Nice link, thanks.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by phoronix View Post
                            Phoronix: BeagleBone Black: The Sub-$50 ARM Linux Board

                            The BeagleBone Black has been one of the popular low-cost ARM development boards in recent months for budget-minded hobbyists due to its $45 price-tag, being Linux friendly, and support for powering off a USB cable. While it may be a cheap ARM development board, is its performance too dauntingly slow?

                            http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=19887

                            Really?

                            This $45 arm embedded board is "too slow", so better to get a intel mini-pc or a laptop? o_O
                            It doesn't take a lot of imagination to understand that you'd use all 3 for completely different purposes.

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                            • #15
                              Finally decided to register in order to post. Hi all!

                              I agree to the poster from above that you should have compared it to the Raspi instead of the Intel NUC thingy. However, since I got the Raspi, the BeagleBone Black (a ODroid-XU, Pandaboard, and some more ARM based dev boards) a few things to point out ...

                              The ARMv6 of the Raspi is, please excuse me, hopelessly outdated in terms of performance you can possibly squeeze out of it. Apart from that, Broadcom sitting on the documentation to the GPU means there's no hardware acceleration available in X11. Kinda annoying when you have to shift around a window...

                              However, the greatest problems I encountered in my "Raspberry Pi Vs. BeagleBone Black" experience are this...

                              - The Raspi has a annoying tendency to corrupt the filesystem on the SD card. It may run smooth as butter for a few months, but eventually it will either crash because the fs became corrupted, beyond repair, during operation or it won't boot anymore out-of-the-blue because... well... corrupted fs most likely damaged beyond repair. This is where the BeagleBone Black excels... it not only uses a Micro SD card (and the slot is of much higher quality than the lousy plastic SD slot on the Raspi), it never corrupted the filesystem on the SD card even once. To be fair, it once actually did, but that was a defective mSD that must have somehow slipped through QA (yes, I'm looking at you Kingston - this wasn't the first "DoA" I bought).

                              - The ethernet of the Raspberry Pi (rev B model) is a utter joke. IF you are lucky you _may_ get up to 2.5-3MB/s (Megabyte, not Megabit) of actual transfer speed though your switch/router, as well as the system itself, will happily tell you that you're linked at 100Mbps. This is where the BeagleBone Black excels once again... I get 8-10MB/s transfer speed, and that's as close to 100Mbps as you can possibly get. Also, the Raspi doesn't play very nicely with modern Gigabit switches. It works fine with my stone-age Netgear GS105 5-Port Gigabit switch, but it refuses to work in a stable manner with either my Netgear GS116 (only negotiates a 10Mbps link and goes through re-negotiating every few seconds therefore interrupting the connection) nor an TP-Link SG1016D (same symptom as with the Netgear). Needless to say the BeagleBone Black has no problems whatsoever to negotiate a stable 100Mbps link with _any_ of the switches.

                              - While the Raspberry has two USB ports, the write speeds to an external hard drive are abysmal as well. Just for the kicks I once hooked up a 2TB Seagate (ST2000DM001) in a Sharkoon QuickPort XT USB 3.0 capable dock to the Raspi and did some speed tests. If you don't resort to the meaningless dd'ing "benchmark" but actually copy files you will see the real problem... Class 10 Transcend SD card, Raspbian .img.xz copied from the SD to the USB hard drive (ext4, noatime) results in ~3<->5MB/s... breathtaking! Doing the same on the BeagleBone Black runs at up to 20/23MB/s (seems the Samsung Class 10 mSD in the BBB can't give more than that at reading from it).

                              A thing to note: The BeagleBone Black boots off the mSD (only booted the Angstrom Linux in the eMMC once to verify operation) and runs Ubuntu ARM from RCN (same as my ODroid-XU, Ubuntu ARM). Even if you compare Angstrom to Raspbian (to stick to the default OS images for the boards), Raspbian is bloated to hell and back (Wolfram Engine, Java, Scratch, ...) and not really polished. I mean, the default LXDE desktop fails to please the eye by orders of magnitude. Well, I guess I can't really complain as they obviously don't target "power users" / "enthusiasts" but people who want a small foot-print computer to get their fingers dirty in trying to develop software or in trying to build up some hardware that can be hooked up to it. Also, the BeagleBone Black supports hardware accelerated X11, using Ubuntu ARM it's just running one script away from making it happen.

                              To sum it up: In my real-world usage scenario (NAS controller with BTSync, Tiny Tiny RSS server) the BeagleBone Black just whooped the Raspi's bottom in each and every task. One BBB is acting as a "NAS" (Samba + BTSync) and is giving very nice transfer speeds (close to what you can actually get via 100Mbps), the other one playing RSS aggregation server is even running everything on just the SD (Apache, PHP, PostgreQL (MySQL is terrible on the ARM boards)) with the default PHP accelerator, and several times faster than the Raspi could ever manage.

                              I pay the 10 bucks extra for the BBB any day of the week to have something that, to use Linus Tovalds' expression, "Just Works(TM)".

                              Of course, in terms of performance both of them are no competition for the ODroid-XU (USB 3.0, Gigabit via USB 3.0 network interface et al) or any other device that comes with more "ooomph" out-of-the-box. By the way: Thank you Michael. Without your review of the ODroid-XU I wouldn't even know that this little toy exists.

                              Sorry for the kinda-rant, I just don't get the hype about the Raspi when it's just sooooooo incredibly inferior.

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