By Eddy Hu
The most successful open-source hardware projects to date came to Arduino, the micro-controller for DIYers and Raspberry Pi, the fully functional mini-computer. This article is going to discuss the Raspberry Pi and its competitive mini-computers emerged in the year of 2014, all of which are ARM-based, including pcDuino, Cubieboard, OLinuXino, Banana Pi, Radxa Rock and BeagleBone Black. Here we’d like to evaluate the features, performances, prices and market shares of these development platforms for competitive analysis.
If we classify the candidates by SoCs with which they’re packed, here comes a quick review.
When screen down the vendors by company scales and technical strengths, the highest rank goes to TI and followed by Broadcom, Rockchip and AllWinner. If we pay attention to vendor supports on the above boards, the TI AM3358 has enjoyed the most open sources while the Broadcom has been very closed with its BCM2835; as for AllWinner and Rockchip, DIY electronics are not their main market and boards based on RK3188 and A20 have been backed by their own suppliers.
People focus on the hardware performance and the price when it comes to electronics. There should be slight differences if the boards are of the same CPUs and memory chips. To be reasonable, other aspects especially the software of the devices should be identical for comparison. It turns out to be a trick since some platforms, say Raspberry Pi has been providing more diversified software resources as well as stronger community support compared with boards from other vendors. Enthusiasts actually prefer the original version rather than a copycat – there’s a reason the Raspberry Pi has become the most popular single board computer.
If we take a more in-depth look to the boards, here’s the competitive analysis with more categories.