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BeagleBone Black: The Sub-$50 ARM Linux Board

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  • phoronix
    started a topic BeagleBone Black: The Sub-$50 ARM Linux Board

    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

  • Licaon
    replied
    Originally posted by kuolas View Post
    I strongly dissagree about "Raspberry Pi with its ARM1176JZF-S" beign close to Sitara ARMv7 @ 1GHz, BBB has a HARD FLOAT and NEON !!!
    RPi has HARD FLOAT too.

    Leave a comment:


  • kuolas
    replied
    The BeagleBone Black launched in Q2'2013 with the AM335x. This AM335x ARM SoC runs at a mere 1GHz and is only a single core solution. Other specs on this single-core ARM development board is 512MB of DDR3 RAM, 2GB of eMMC on-board flash storage, a 3D graphics accelerator, and two PRU 32-bit micro-controllers. This is far from being the fastest ARM development board around. The specs on the BeagleBone Black are just a minor step ahead of the Raspberry Pi with its ARM1176JZF-S that has a 700MHz single-core ARMv6k processor while also boasting just 512MB of system memory but with not nearly the same level of hobbyist interest level even though the BeagleBone Black just sells for a few dollars more.
    Phoronix should do an apologetic article, maybe testing out the newer Debian Jessy 8.9 and Fedora 23 armhf, those are complete distros with Hard Float ARMv7, and doing some clearing of things commented on this forum.

    I strongly dissagree about "Raspberry Pi with its ARM1176JZF-S" beign close to Sitara ARMv7 @ 1GHz, BBB has a HARD FLOAT and NEON !!!

    Leave a comment:


  • Licaon
    replied
    Originally posted by ssvb View Post
    That's what Raspberry Pi is currently doing a bit better than the others. Their community provides a lot of hand holding and babysitting help for newcomers.
    ...
    The sunxi community favors software freedom, the Raspberry Pi community favors ease of use. Can't say much about the beaglebone community, but there must be something good about them too. There are many things to learn from each other and improve.
    Yep, the community goes a long way, keeping the software up to date too ( Xorg 1.14 + Kernel 3.10.xx + debian stable / 1.15 + 3.13.xx + debian jessy as developer FTW ), and three years later they are still going, and improving: http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/6299

    Yes abandoning X accel to go to Wayland hurts them/us ( in the short term ) but it helps in the long run. And thinking at the long road ahead actually helped me decide to buy one, as all those "cheap but fast" chinese board might be better hardware wise now but I can't really trust them to be there for me 3 years later with up to date software, documentation or english users to help out noobs.

    Leave a comment:


  • ssvb
    replied
    Originally posted by grege View Post
    I thought along the same lines as Michael. Can you make a working desktop computer out of a cheap ARM board? After a lot of reading I bought a Cubieboard 2. Dual core Allwinner, good community and a SATA port. Then I set to work. It was not straight forward but after a few days I had a Debian system running Xfce4. I had the root partition on the internal flash and a 750GB 2.5" SSD configured as swap and /home. I also purchased a quality 3A power supply. It actually worked and I setup network sharing with SAMBA. It even had GPU acceleration. It could play SD video smoothly and full screen. There is a video decoder that works in an XBMC setup, but not under X. It happily fed multimedia files to my wired network and the desktop was fast enough to be usable.
    If your primary intended use was a desktop computer replacement, then this kind of hardware was not the best choice. Cubieboard 2 uses a dual-core Cortex-A7 processor clocked at only 912MHz by default (overclockable to 1GHz or a little bit higher than that). This particular configuration together with single-core Cortex-A8 clocked at 1GHz (as used in BeagleBone Black, Cubieboard 1 and A10-OLinuXino-LIME) is representing the current extreme low end in terms of CPU power. You can only go lower with the Raspberry Pi.

    Still that's where the x86 desktop computers were 12-15 years ago. With the right software optimizations/tweaks in place and also picking a non-bloatware desktop environment (XFCE/LXDE/MATE/...), it's definitely possible to use this kind of hardware as a surrogate desktop machine for doing light Internet browsing, typing documents/e-mails and watching movies (with some help from a hardware video decoder). And it's also kind of an interesting challenge to see how much of the performance can be still squeezed out of it.

    The whole point is that the Raspberry Pi, A10-OLinuXino-LIME and BeagleBone Black all have very similar and very low price. For example, the price is ranging from 35,70 EUR to 43,95 EUR (with VAT included) in one of the European web shops right at this moment. The price is the primary factor that makes these boards attractive and competing in the same largely overlapping niches. And a very important thing is that people are less worried about breaking, frying or otherwise damaging all this hardware if the price is low enough.

    Would I use it as my primary desktop? No.
    Exactly. An x86 box is a no-brainer choice if you want a desktop machine, perfectly capable of running all modern bloatware without compromises And as others have already mentioned, these low cost ARM boards have a lot of better uses in addition to just running a Linux desktop system.

    It was an interesting project but the hoops you have to go through just to do a dist-upgrade made it just too much hassle to be sensible. I realise I was pushing a square peg into a round hole, but it can be made to work.
    That's what Raspberry Pi is currently doing a bit better than the others. Their community provides a lot of hand holding and babysitting help for newcomers. They have just a single primary hardware configuration to support. And also quite conveniently, the incompatible with everything else ARMv6 architecture is working to their advantage, suppressing fragmentation on the software side. Basically they just have a single Raspbian Linux distribution dominating, ready made SD card images and even SD cards with the system pre-installed for sale. Makes getting the system up and running really fast. And if you go for an advice to their forum, there are lots of people having exactly the same hardware & software configuration.

    The sunxi community favors software freedom, the Raspberry Pi community favors ease of use. Can't say much about the beaglebone community, but there must be something good about them too. There are many things to learn from each other and improve.

    Leave a comment:


  • grege
    replied
    Originally posted by grege View Post
    I thought along the same lines as Michael. Can you make a working desktop computer out of a cheap ARM board? After a lot of reading I bought a Cubieboard 2. Dual core Allwinner, good community and a SATA port. Then I set to work. It was not straight forward but after a few days I had a Debian system running Xfce4. I had the root partition on the internal flash and a 750GB 2.5" SSD configured as swap and /home. I also purchased a quality 3A power supply. It actually worked and I setup network sharing with SAMBA. It even had GPU acceleration. It could play SD video smoothly and full screen. There is a video decoder that works in an XBMC setup, but not under X. It happily fed multimedia files to my wired network and the desktop was fast enough to be usable. Would I use it as my primary desktop? No. It was an interesting project but the hoops you have to go through just to do a dist-upgrade made it just too much hassle to be sensible. I realise I was pushing a square peg into a round hole, but it can be made to work.

    So then I dismantled it and flashed Android to the internal memory and then connected it to a TV, complete with an ethernet connection. Instant smart TV. I added BS Player to the Android for network streaming of multimedia files. I tried various wireless keyboards, but once setup I settled on a mouse on the TV cabinet. I have issues with HDMI and occasional screen blanking.

    Now I am thinking of maybe making a headless private cloud. Something for the future. And more in line with the relevant usage for such a device. A hobby device and a bit of fun.
    That should have read 2.5" HDD, but no editing after 5 minutes. I think my HDMI issues were more a cable issue than the Cubieboard, but now I have lost interest in solving that - for the moment.

    Leave a comment:


  • ssvb
    replied
    The article says "The BeagleBone Black might be useful for specialized embedded use-cases or penny-pinching Linux hobbyists, but for any real ARM Linux development use or desktop experiments".

    Why is this article making conclusions about desktop performance after actually running only a few floating point heavy benchmarks focusing on scientific computations? Cherry picking results to showcase only the slow non-pipelined VFPLite unit used in ARM Cortex-A8 is not very nice. For example, the TSCP result has been measured but omitted from the article for some reason. FWIW, if one is focusing exclusively on non-vectorized double precision floating point benchmarks, then even Raspberry Pi (which has a pipelined VFP11 unit) is going to show better score than Beaglebone But the typical desktop tasks are a completely different type of workload. And Cortex-A8 based boards, such as Beaglebone Black or A10-OLinuXino-LIME, are much faster than Raspberry Pi thanks to a dual-issue superscalar pipeline, integrated low latency L2 cache and 128-bit NEON SIMD unit.

    Leave a comment:


  • grege
    replied
    Cubieboard 2

    I thought along the same lines as Michael. Can you make a working desktop computer out of a cheap ARM board? After a lot of reading I bought a Cubieboard 2. Dual core Allwinner, good community and a SATA port. Then I set to work. It was not straight forward but after a few days I had a Debian system running Xfce4. I had the root partition on the internal flash and a 750GB 2.5" SSD configured as swap and /home. I also purchased a quality 3A power supply. It actually worked and I setup network sharing with SAMBA. It even had GPU acceleration. It could play SD video smoothly and full screen. There is a video decoder that works in an XBMC setup, but not under X. It happily fed multimedia files to my wired network and the desktop was fast enough to be usable. Would I use it as my primary desktop? No. It was an interesting project but the hoops you have to go through just to do a dist-upgrade made it just too much hassle to be sensible. I realise I was pushing a square peg into a round hole, but it can be made to work.

    So then I dismantled it and flashed Android to the internal memory and then connected it to a TV, complete with an ethernet connection. Instant smart TV. I added BS Player to the Android for network streaming of multimedia files. I tried various wireless keyboards, but once setup I settled on a mouse on the TV cabinet. I have issues with HDMI and occasional screen blanking.

    Now I am thinking of maybe making a headless private cloud. Something for the future. And more in line with the relevant usage for such a device. A hobby device and a bit of fun.
    Last edited by grege; 02-18-2014, 08:16 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • caligula
    replied
    Originally posted by CFWhitman View Post
    I would like to add that another serious shortcoming of the Raspberry Pi seems to be common among most of the very cheap development boards. That is, it lacks good open source drivers for the GPU. Sure, it's great for video playback, but you can't do all the things you would be able to do if the GPU drivers were open source. I'd love to point to something else that does have good open source GPU support, but until you go to Bay Trail devices, which are hardly in the same class (that is they are way more capable, more expensive, and more power hungry), it's tough to find anything satisfactory.
    Most ARM boards have closed GPU because Samsung, ARM Holdings and other companies hate open source. RPi is nice because you can actually use the closed drivers via an open API, but most other ARM boards rely totally on reverse engineering work because the companies hate open source like the plague and wish it would die a painful death.

    Leave a comment:


  • CFWhitman
    replied
    I would like to add that another serious shortcoming of the Raspberry Pi seems to be common among most of the very cheap development boards. That is, it lacks good open source drivers for the GPU. Sure, it's great for video playback, but you can't do all the things you would be able to do if the GPU drivers were open source. I'd love to point to something else that does have good open source GPU support, but until you go to Bay Trail devices, which are hardly in the same class (that is they are way more capable, more expensive, and more power hungry), it's tough to find anything satisfactory.
    Last edited by CFWhitman; 02-18-2014, 03:38 PM.

    Leave a comment:

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