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Raspberry Pi Gets Competitors (hackaday.com) 115

Hackaday reports that Asus has "quietly released their Tinker board that follows the Pi form factor very closely, and packs a 1.8 GHz quad-core ARM Cortes A17 alongside an impressive spec At £55 (about $68) where this is being written it's more expensive than the Pi, but Asus go to great lengths to demonstrate that it is significantly faster."

And though the Raspberry Pi foundation upgraded their Compute Module, Pine64 has just unveiled their new SOPINE A64 64-bit computing module, a smaller version of the $15 Pine64 computer. An anonymous reader quotes ComputerWorld: At $29, the SOPINE A64 roughly matches the price of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3, which ranges from $25 to $30. The new SOPINE will ship in February, according to the website. The SOPINE A64 can't operate as a standalone computer like the Pine64. It needs to be plugged in as a memory slot inside a computer. But if you want a full-blown computer, Pine64 also sells the $15 SOPINE Baseboard Model-A, which "complements the SOPINE A64 Compute Module and turns it into a full single board computer," according to the company...

The original Pine64 was crowdsourced and also became popular for its high-end components like a 64-bit chip and DDR3 memory... It has 2GB RAM, which is twice that of Raspberry Pi's compute module. SOPINE also has faster DDR3 memory, superior to DDR2 memory in Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 board.

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Raspberry Pi Gets Competitors

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  • Da faq? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, 2017 @06:36PM (#53712631)

    Raspberry Pi had competitors before it ever existed. Are people really this fucking dense around here?

    • They are if they are a blogger or wannabe journalist on the web.

    • Re:Da faq? (Score:4, Informative)

      by arglebargle_xiv ( 2212710 ) on Saturday January 21, 2017 @10:53PM (#53713481)

      The Pi is two things, Pi the hardware and Pi the infrastructure. Hardware-wise, there's a bazillion devices that "compete" with the Pi, many of them much, much better. In terms of the infrastructure, there's nothing that comes close. Until something can replicate and then supplant the entire industry that's evolved around the Pi, you can't call anything "competition". The hardware is mediocre, the infrastructure is unbeatable.

      Before I get lots of flames for the hardware comment, it really is. I kinda hate saying this because it's completely changed the industry and totally fulfilled its promise as an educational toy, but dear Ghod you don't want to build a product around it. Compare it to my current go-to alternative, the Odroid C2: It has power conditioning and protection circuitry on both DC in and USB ports, it has a high-current, standard barrel jack connector for power not micro USB (so it can actually power its own USB peripherals rather than needing a hacked-up external USB powered hub or having things fail to work mysteriously), it has a massive heatsink to deal with heat issues, it has proper GigE not pretend USB ethernet (and a 64-bit CPU with 2GB RAM to drive it), it has proper eMMC storage rather than an SD card, and so on and so on, it's actually been designed by competent hardware engineers who know how to build a solid, reliable system.

      Oh, and it costs all of $5 more than a Pi.

      • Re:Da faq? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @12:23AM (#53713775)

        The Pi was designed as an educational prop and hobbyist toy at a throwaway price. It fits that better than anything else out there. If you're looking for professional equipment it's lacking. The Odroid C2 is pretty awesome but it's almost double the price of a Pi3 at 60 dollars on amazon. I have a few of the Raspberry a+ computers I picked up for 25 bucks apiece and got cameras for at 25 apiece. I stuck them around the outside of my house and installed motion on them giving me a dirt cheap way to monitor the area. I'm really blown away by how well they work. I'm sure I could spend 3 times the money and have something a little better but part of the joy is that this stuff is cheap enough that I'm not concerned about it. For things that require a lot of computing power it's not the solution. The things they're doing with the 5 dollar Pi Zero is what really amazes me. It's the culture that surrounds the Pi, the community really, that makes it what it is along with the dirt cheap I don't care if my kids break it price.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Sure, and it does a fine job at that. OTOH the price comparison is a bit biased, sure you can buy one for $30-35, but then you have to add an external USB powered hub hacked to not back-power the Pi, and for the 2 and earlier external WiFi, and all sorts of other stuff just to get it up to a usable/useful level. It's a classic case of pay me now or pay me later. Not to mention the fact that they need more care and feeding than a three-year-old, it's only a matter of time before they corrupt their filesys

          • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

            If you need all the stuff that a computer has the Pi gets expensive, that is true. For the camera set ups I installed the camera and stuck an 8 dollar wireless N usb dongle in it. I tapped into the power for the outside lights on the corner of the house for power for the cell charger and so the board, camera, dongle and charger cost me less than 70 dollars a piece. The cases are old pickle jars sealed with RTV for the holes in the lids. It's kinda weird looking but under the eaves of the house it's pret

        • I have a few of the Raspberry a+ computers I picked up for 25 bucks apiece and got cameras for at 25 apiece. I stuck them around the outside of my house and installed motion on them giving me a dirt cheap way to monitor the area.

          Why in the world would you do that!? You can get WiFi PTZ cameras for as little as $25 on amazon. Pretty good ones are just a bit more, but easily far under your $50 mark.

          • It may be better now, but I've got a few cameras that require a crappy Internet Explorer only configuration "web" interface and even if you can get streaming video to work with VLC it's unreliable.

            I'm completely unwilling to give a camera Internet access and allow it to connect to its vendor's website. If you are willing to put video of your home "in the cloud" (i.e. allowing someone you don't know to sit in between you and the camera) then you probably have more options since I think there are a lot of cam

            • I've got a few cameras that require a crappy Internet Explorer only configuration "web" interface

              I've seen several that require IE for in-browser AUDIO, but that's all. Every camera I've purchased can do configuration and video with any browser, and you can do audio with native apps on any platform (just not in-browser), going all the way back to Axis cameras just shy of two decades ago.

              In fact, it seems ALL network cameras made today support ONVIF, so there's a compatible standard they all support (though

      • Personal note: I have and use Odroid -U2, -U3, -C, -C1, -C2, RPI2, RPI3, and a UDOO (original backer), mostly as micro-servers. I don't require much customization and as long as that remains true, I find them to be great machines.

        The Odroids are definitely better hardware, but the story gets more complicated when the question of kernels (and the binary blobs needed for media) are updated to mainline. I've heard but not verified that the original Exynos CPUs in the Odroid-Ux are supported by mainline kernels

        • Yeah, the software is always the problem, sigh. What I'd kill for is if someone did deployment-grade Pi hardware, a standard 12V supply with 2.5mm barrel jack connector (so you don't need to hang a UBEC in front of everything using a Pi), proper protection circuitry for power and USB, eMMC instead of a plug-in SD card, a watchdog that works, a reset button so you don't need to power-cycle it when it hangs (which, combined with the lack of power management and use of SD card with ext3 practically builds fil
          • Onboard battery management with standardised support would make the Pi a real prospect to me. Battery management daughterboards for the Pi are almost as expensive as the device itself and block up GPIO pins other hardware might need. I'm also unclear on whether I'm going to have to roll my own operating environment to take advantage of it.
            • The LiFePO4 add-on is kinda cool, but as you say it blocks pins, and means you can no longer fit the thing into a standard Pi case. Also, a single 18650 doesn't really last that long... that's another nice feature about something run off a standard 12V, you can drop a picoUPS inline to the power with the SLA battery of your choice, or use an 12V UPS targeted for CCTV use if you want a ready-made solution.
          • by lenski ( 96498 )

            ...Great comments, especially WRT the UBEC. My work is always in a lab environment (or at home, where I use beefy USB chargers...), so it never occurred to me to look toward the RC world for an inexpensive DC-DC converter. Thank you for that!

            The RPi is not designed for industrial application, and every one of the characteristics you cite, while being important for "pro-grade" product performance, also add cost that is unnecessary for 99.9% of Pi use-cases. Professional engineering time (that's us...) is pre

            • Hey, glad it was useful. In case others find it useful, here's Arglebargle XIV's guide to strapping enough stuff to your Pi to make it somewhat more workable...

              * Run it off a UBEC, specifically off an automotive rather than an RC one. These take 12V in via flying leads and output 5V on micro USB, so you don't have to solder on a tiny plug yourself. The ones I've got are labelled "car power technology" and claim to produce 5V at 3A, I've never drawn that much but they'll provide 1-2A without really getting

            • Especially when combined with trick like RAM-resident root and tmp filesystems, EXT3/EXT4 on modern high-endurance flash is fine, as far as I can tell. I've run endurance checks of our current CF cards (1 or 2 gig, extended-endurance) and they are still just fine after 10-15 years of simulated activity.

              So there's an interesting experiment, what would you put into a more-survivable Pi while increasing the cost by no more than $10-20 (so you prototype with the Pi and then ship the deployment-ready version)? A partial wishlist:

              * Proper power protection circuitry on DC in and USB.

              * Barrel jack connector with a standard 9-15V in range, so it'll run from everything from 13.8VDC down to 12V-with-cable-losses.

              * Use of the watchdog. Apparently some of the early silicon had problems with this, but even the curren

      • Before I get lots of flames for the hardware comment, it really is. I kinda hate saying this because it's completely changed the industry and totally fulfilled its promise as an educational toy, but dear Ghod you don't want to build a product around it.

        Depends on the product. Sticking to professional stuff, I've built a custom diagnostic/test device around an RPi. Currently one, but there'll be a herd of 4 eventually. I don't have to worry about people plugging in random USB crap of course. I certainly don

        • Though isn't eMMC basically the same: it's like the old MMC cards (i.e. SD without any of the dumb crap that no one uses) over a circuit board traces, rather than a fixed socket?

          eMMC is really bad marketing because with that name you associate it with the pre-SD MMC, where it's really more towards the SSD side than the SD/MMC side, although it's definitely a poor man's SSD. Think of it as an SSD alternative for phones and tablets, which is the most common application area. (eMMC 5.1 [jedec.org] is the current standard, with SSD-like speeds possible. They just should've called it nanoSSD or something rather than MMC anything.

        • The SD card is annoyingly slow, but it does make development easy and stress free, partly, in that you can have a production and dev SD card and simply flip the card over to convert the device, and of course with the high speed reader on my laptop, I can duplicate and back up the card quickly and easily.

          I was working on a commercial product based on a Pi 3 not too long ago and... it trashed its filesystem within a few days of setting it up. Interestingly, the manufacturer had anticipated this because there was a recessed area at the bottom of the case that allowed you to pull the SD card out with tweezers for reflashing, and they didn't seem too surprised when I asked them for a copy of the image. Good on them for foreseeing this, but there's no way you can ship something like this to the non-geek genera

          • but there's no way you can ship something like this to the non-geek general public.

            No, but you can set up the flash as read-only. I'm not sure precisely why it happens. Something to do with the controller on some SD cards? I think my preferred method would be to have r/o SD, because you have to have the root FS on the SD card and a writable filesystem on an internal USB drive.

            • I'm not sure precisely why it happens. Something to do with the controller on some SD cards?

              That's the usual FAQ response, "you've used a bad/cheap SD card", but it's only a contributing factor. Sure, there are people who are going to use the cheapest, crappiest eBey'd Chinese knock-off SD cards they can find, but you find the same problems with good-quality Sandisk cards bought from authorised distributors (so you know they're the real thing, not a clone). In addition where I've seen the corruption (with the quality SD cards) it's at the filesystem level, not the flash block level, so it's not

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        The Pi is two things, Pi the hardware and Pi the infrastructure. Hardware-wise, there's a bazillion devices that "compete" with the Pi, many of them much, much better. In terms of the infrastructure, there's nothing that comes close. Until something can replicate and then supplant the entire industry that's evolved around the Pi, you can't call anything "competition". The hardware is mediocre, the infrastructure is unbeatable.

        Exactly. There are millions of devices that cost around $30 and get you way better

    • Spoken like someone who's never had to design anything for production.

      I, for one, would have been SUPER JAZZED to have something as cool as the RPI compule module in 2008 when I needed an embedded linux system in a small form factor. At the time, the only thing available was the Gumstix Verdex - so I went with that. Built a product around it. Was great at the time. Now, 9 years later: still great for what it was, but I'm still stuck on that platform.

      Guess why? (Don't bother to answer, you've already sh

    • You missed the point of the summary by focusing on the poorly worded title.

      Name one major motherboard competitor that offered anything like the Raspberry Pi until now. They always had competitors in the form of small projects or kick starters or mini embedded systems, but what's new is that a major commodity hardware manufacturer (Asus) is getting in on the action.

      The other new thing in the summary is that competitors are now following the Raspberry Pi form factor. There were plenty of Raspberry Pi "alterna

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Saturday January 21, 2017 @06:51PM (#53712707) Journal

    The Pie has FreeBSD and other Linux distro support and lots of i/O to hook up other peripherals.

    • The Pie has FreeBSD and other Linux distro support and lots of i/O to hook up other peripherals.

      And I was running Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on a Beagle Bone Black in April of '04 (although its userland was running on a somewhat back-versioned kernel for a couple months until the guy doing the kernel ports got the proper one fully ported).

      The Black is not the first Beagle Bone version, either, and it was running Debian Linux from the first time I encountered it. It has lots of I/O hookup opportunities - including on

  • Geekbox w/ Landingship

    Someone has already mentioned the Pine64

    EXPRESSObin on kickstarter

    I'm waiting for my EXPRESSObin boards. They're supposed to be fully compliant to all the uBoot and device tree standards and will run Fedora out of the box. I have a Pine64 and Geekbox, and both will only run custom Ubuntu because they don't have devicetree.

    • I have a Pine64 and Geekbox, and both will only run custom Ubuntu because they don't have devicetree.

      For Pine64, try Icenowy's kernels, they work fine for me. That's 4.9 with devicetree; she hasn't rebased the patch set to 4.10-rc yet, though, and so many A64 pieces went into 4.10 while so many are still missing from mainline that I'm not attempting to rebase it myself. But if "only" 4.9 is good enough for you, dump that 3.10 vendor crap...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It'd be something different than all these ARM boards. An Intel Atom chip could work, but I don't know if AMD has anything of the equivalent.

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Probably the licensing costs are incredibly prohibitive.

      And Intel can't really come close to ARM's lower power consumption.

      And Intel chips get much hotter than ARM (even the RPi 3 is basically passively cooled).

      And modern Intels often need a lot of support chips.

      But apart from all that, it's a marvellous idea...

      (Intel and ARM target very different markets and use cases. There's a reason that almost all smartphones - including the iPhone - use ARM-based chips).

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Intel makes one called the MinnowBoard Max. It's in the $150 price range.

      • Intel has parts that would work(albeit a bit light on GPIO); I've got a dreadful little tablet here based on the Z3735G [intel.com], and they packed that CPU, a gig of RAM, 16GB of flash, a 1024x600 touchscreen, some sort of BT and wifi, and a battery together for under $50.

        If they hadn't also burdened the device with some of the more agonizing firmware I've had the pleasure of dealing with(AMI's dysfunctional take on 32-bit UEFI, no compatibility support module, on a 64-bit platform? Sign me up!); it'd actually be
    • It'd be something different than all these ARM boards. An Intel Atom chip could work, but I don't know if AMD has anything of the equivalent.

      Can't the Via Nano [wikipedia.org] be used for something like this? I doubt it would have much use in the mainstream netbook market, given how strongly the Celeron, Atom and A8 chips have been hitting it, but it could find a niche in something like this. And what's even better - it has some very good embedded OSs available, like Minix, QNX and of course every Linux and BSD out there.

      • They don't appear to have abandoned the product line; but it's been ages since I've seen a VIA x86 in the wild. HP used to build thin clients around them, after Transmeta died horribly; and prior to Atoms they showed up reasonably frequently on embedded boards(slow; but markedly cheaper than a Pentium M and markedly smaller and cooler than P4); but they don't seem to have done well recently. They were always pretty slow, and ran pretty warm unless clocked quite low, plus their GPU offering is a descendant o
  • by Anonymous Coward

    then Pi should get its OpenGL display driver fixed aSAP. It's giving slow Rage 128-like results, rather relatively anachronistic to its powerful ARM.

  • Lacking in I/O (Score:5, Informative)

    by Walter White ( 1573805 ) on Saturday January 21, 2017 @07:44PM (#53712881)

    The extra processor horsepower and RAM is nice but it seems like it is not matched by I/O. is the gigabit Ethernet tied to the processor? One of the drawbacks of the Pi (not Pie, BTW) is that Ethernet is off the internal USB2 hub.You could put gigabit Ethernet on a USB2 hub and get no increase in bandwidth. The Tinker has one micro-USB connector for power. Does it support OTG? (According to the Hackaday article it does have multiple USB 2.0 ports.) Sata would be nice too.

    The biggest advantage of the Raspberry Pi is the community. It's going to be hard to match that. The RPi has hit critical mass when I can go to my local Microcenter and get a Pi 3 Model B for $30 US or a Pi zero for $5.

  • by Feneric ( 765069 ) on Saturday January 21, 2017 @07:45PM (#53712887) Homepage
    A big draw of the Pi is its price point. More expensive devices aren't necessarily competition. Less expensive devices like the C.H.I.P. are the ones I'd expect to take a bite out of Pi.
    • The CHIP is also nice in other ways: it's smaller, it comes with flash on-board and Linux pre-loaded, and when you power it from a USB hub, you get both networking and serial console support over the same connection.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Less expensive devices like the C.H.I.P. are the ones I'd expect to take a bite out of Pi.

      Currently, I'd say C.H.I.P. is pretty disappointing. On the one hand, they do have a pretty much stock Debian system in place so you've got the nice repository of packages. On the downside, there's issues of using too much power over the microUSB (even when using their not-all-out flash image) and risking killing a computer if you're using it as a power source*, the pretty substantial boot time (about a minute), and

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Who the fuck cares about the difference between DDR2 and DDR3 on an ARM thing that doesn't even have proper SATA.
    I'll stick with 8bit microcontrollers for electronic projects and a common PC for my NAS

  • Right now, I think the biggest limitation of the Raspberry Pi is probably its lack of USB 3 support; without that, it can't be used as a file server. Lack of OTG support also makes it harder to boot/configure the device.

    For the next version of the Raspberry Pi, I'm hoping for USB C support, with high power mode, host mode, and device mode, as well as support for serial consoles and networking over USB.

    • The Raspberry Pi 3 also doesn't have Gigabit Ethernet or a SATA port, two more reasons why it doesn't make for a very good file server.

      It does make a pretty damn good embedded web server, though. You can install the full LAMP stack on the MicroSD card of that thing right from the Raspbian repos.

      • The Raspberry Pi 3 also doesn't have Gigabit Ethernet or a SATA port, two more reasons why it doesn't make for a very good file server.

        Those would also be nice to have, but having USB-3/C would be a good start since it allows you to attach disks and gigabit ethernet.

        • Yeah, a USB-C port would be nice as well. I just don't want them to go the Apple MacBook Pro route and remove the legacy USB-A ports as well.

    • Yeah, I got a Raspberry Pi because I thought I could turn it into a cheap TV recorder with my USB TV stick. Something low power that I could easily leave on all the time so I wouldn't have to remember to leave my regular computer on just to record some program while I was out of the house or asleep.

      Didn't work out. Everything had to breath through that slow USB interface so, while I got recordings, they were all chopped up.

    • by allo ( 1728082 )

      The rpi does not have usb at all. It emulates it on the processor level, which is why its slow and instable. I guess USB3 will never be possible this way.

      And of course usb3 specs allow a lot more power over usb, which isn't possible with a pi.

  • Does this new board run a stock, off-the-shelf Linux distribution with a stock distro kernel? Is the bootloader open source and easy to use to boot any kernel and OS? If not, then it's really of little consequence.

    I think these devices are neat and have a lot of potential, but sadly until we see the kind of standardization in terms of booting and hardware interfacing, these devices are way beneath their potential. Even the Pi, as popular and useful as it is, is hobbled to a degree without this standardiz

    • The Pine64 has a few different Linux distributions available for it, but the last time I tried them they weren't as polished or had as good of a software selection as Raspbian. That was a few months ago, though, so it might be better now.

      • by caseih ( 160668 )

        That's not what I meant. I know there are distros for each of these boards. What's lacking is any kind of standard for the platform like we have in the PC world. I don't want to run some custom hack of debian with a special kernel on each board. Arm boards will be infinitely more useful when I can download one ISO from the distro web site such as debian.org, and have it boot and run on each of these Arm boards. Right now there's no standards for boot loader let alone device tree. It's a mess.

  • by Cmdln Daco ( 1183119 ) on Saturday January 21, 2017 @09:43PM (#53713269)

    The thing I see missing in most of the Raspberry Pi competitors is curriculum. It's all fine and well to pop out a cheap single board computer and then port an operating system or two that runs on it. The part of Raspberry Pi that is missing is the curriculum and the value for education, which is what the RPi is all about.

    The Raspberry Pi was developed to be a pedagogical tool for education. The Raspberry Pi Foundation works to get acceptance of the RPi devices into schools, and they help educators come up with curriculum to take advantage of the hardware. To get the hardware into the hands of kids who can then hack on it and learn. The Pi wasn't invented so that neckbeards could use it for their Media Center.

  • The choice of memory slot interface is odd. Today's form factor will be deprecated within 2 years, making it a headache to use the thing on next new hardware

    But I am also curious to learn how host software interfaces with such a helper computer hooked to a memory slot.

  • Salamu alaikum, Thanks all for the FLOSS and Open Hardware movements. I'm a normal user of Debian GNU/Linux and GNU/Linux Mint as my main Desktop computer and Laptop, and I own a RaspberryPI3 and BeagleBoneBlack (Raspbian and Debian). Since, i'm creating CC0 educational 2d animation videos like those : https://youtu.be/4MB47oPBp9U [youtu.be] (Created with Synfig Studio, Tupe, Libreoffice Impress, OpenShot, Audacity, LibAV, Inkscape and GIMP), And because of the world of on-line content are increasingly created by use
  • How about getting the price of a 7 inch display down to under $10 .. then I would be impressed. There is the raspberry pi Zero for $5 .. yay impressed. But how can it be used without a display? Even for many IoT type stuff, displays need to be cheap.

  • I get SOOOOO annoyed at these hardware announcements from micro to super computer that make no mention of the OS to be used.
    If ASUS will only support Windows on this board, then what is the price point? Is Windows included?
    If ASUS will be supporting Linux on this board, then why cant they support Linux on their OTHER Mobos, the desktop ones that are used for gaming, etc.
    If they are not supporting ANY software then what community do they expect to step up? Martians?
    softcoder

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