1 2 3 Previous 188 Replies Latest reply on Jul 15, 2014 8:34 PM by wallarug

    Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi

    wallarug

      It is interesting to see what people are comparing to the "An ARM GNU/Linux box for $25. Take a byte!" to these days.

       

      http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/09/99-raspberry-pi-sized-supercomputer-touted-in-kickstarter-project/

      This article is talking about a $99 dollar supercomputer that has 16 cores @ 700MHz each.

       

      http://www.electronicsweekly.com/Articles/28/09/2012/54676/raspberry-pi-gets-a-competitor.htm

      This article is about an ARM board, not that different to the Raspberry Pi but with more power and RAM.

        • 1. Re: Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi
          GreenYamo

          I like the thought of the 16 core machine ! To be honest, I think the Pi will spawn a number of alternatives / competitors and sooner or later one will hit another price / performance ratio that resonates with the market.

           

          If I had a bit more cash, I'd think about committing $99 to that kickstarter :-)

          • 2. Re: Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi

            The hardware specs look very nice for all the new low-cost ARM computers,

            with more ram and faster cpu's than the RPi.  What the articles don't say,

            and what we've all learned to ask is: does the USB work without dropping packets? 

            Can I use a keyboard with a built-in hub?  Can I mix USB 1.1 with USB 2.0? 

            Can I use any SD card?  at high speed? Is X11 accelerated?  Does mplayer work? 

            Are the drivers included in mainline Linux?

             

            Eventually it will happen.

            • 3. Re: Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi
              morgaine

              coder27 wrote:

               

              What the articles don't say,

              and what we've all learned to ask is: does the USB work without dropping packets? 

              Can I use a keyboard with a built-in hub?  Can I mix USB 1.1 with USB 2.0? 

              Can I use any SD card?

               

              The Pi's USB problems stem from use of that dreadful USB controller, which must be seen as a hardware fault in the Broadcom SoC.  Presumably this problem is also shared by any other device which uses that same  piece of junk hardware.

               

              I'm not aware of any other computer in existence with such an utterly broken USB.  All past and future competitors are likely to be completely superior to Pi in that respect.

              • 4. Re: Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi
                morgaine

                Mentioning the junk USB controller brought to mind a little question.  Do any other devices of Broadcom's apart from the unfortunate BCM2835 use the same USB core?

                 

                I sure hope that the answer is 'No', otherwise the potential exists for the next generation of Pi to have the same USB problems as the current one.

                • 5. Re: Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi
                  GeorgeIoak

                  Doesn't the Roku HD use almost the same design (BCM2835 and LAN9512) yet AFAIK there are no constraints with their USB port. http://www.mycablealternatives.com/2011/07/roku-2-xs-teardown/

                  • 6. Re: Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi
                    obcd

                    How would you know the roku isn't having the same usb problems?

                    Most people will just use the usb port on that to connect an usb stick, and they don't have a way to figure out if there is an issue.

                    Besides that, some on the foundation say that the problems occur due to the interrupt latency being 2 high. One of the troublemakers for that

                    seems to be the sd card driver. The roku has an on board flash, so it probably isn't using the sd card slot and it's driver during normal operation.

                    The official pi troubleshooting forum even had someone passing by that had used the synoptic usb core in another design.

                    He wished them good luck with it to get it going as it should.

                    Fact is, if I can choose between 2 product, and one is powered by broadcom, I will choose the other one. Not just because that BCM2835 is having issues, but mainly because of the way the foundation (mostly broadcom employees) tries to hide and minimise them.

                    • 7. Re: Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi
                      GeorgeIoak

                      I didn't say that the Roku didn't have problems but I haven't run across any threads that say that there is. Trust me, I'm not a fan of Broadcom solely based on the fact that they don't sell to you unless you're a multi-million dollar account and also for the fact that you brought up about "hiding" issues. This also goes for NVidia to a certain extent with their Tegra line.

                       

                      I've been trying to get a straight answer on the USB issues and as no surprise it doesn't appear that anyone is offerring any help. I would think that the amount of trouble with the USB port that this would be a major focus yet it certainly doesn't appear to be. I don't even know if anyone has ruled out hardware problems or if it's a firmware problem. I would think that if it's a firmware issue that someone with experience would use the JTAG port and try to capture the events. The problems are fairly repeatable so I would think it wouldn't take a long time to narrow down a fix.

                       

                      The board has done well and it set new grounds with what you can do for $35 but I might take a different view of the Foundation if they released the version 2 board and didn't address the USB problem.

                      • 8. Re: Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi
                        morgaine

                        There's no reason to believe that any other product based on the BCM2835 wouldn't have exactly  the same USB problems as Pi, since those problems are determined by the USB core used in the SoC.  That's why I asked whether Broadcom continues to use the same USB core in their more recent SoCs.  If they do then a new generation of Raspberry Pi boards based on a newer SoC could be at risk of having the same issues.

                         

                        After all, we know that the Foundation won't use anything except Broadcom for the Pi SoC because they are strongly tied to that company by numerous factors.  I bet RS at least wishes it were otherwise, from what we've heard about device shortage leading to RS's terribly long wait queue.

                        • 9. Re: Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi
                          GeorgeIoak

                          Do you mind if I ask how know that this is a problem with the USB core? When you say that it makes me think that the hardware design and firmware are OK but the SoC itself is flawed.

                          • 10. Re: Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi
                            John Beetem

                            Morgaine Dinova wrote:

                             

                            After all, we know that the Foundation won't use anything except Broadcom for the Pi SoC because they are strongly tied to that company by numerous factors.  I bet RS at least wishes it were otherwise, from what we've heard about device shortage leading to RS's terribly long wait queue.

                            I've heard that the BCM2835 is made to order with a 23 week lead time.  (Yes, that's what I heard.)  So you have to predict future needs very carefully or you'll end up with a shortage (can't make boards) or a surplus (which you can't sell to anyone else because you can't provide data sheets).

                            • 11. Re: Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi
                              GeorgeIoak

                              I'm not surprised with that lead time as I can't see the market being huge for them. I would find it a bit hard to believe that the fundamental problem is with the USB core. There are tones of MCUs on the market with USB Host functionality and I haven't heard of others having the limitations that are happening with the RPi. Although, it might make sense that it was a know problem and presented to the foundation and offered to them at a discount if they could live with the limitations. For them to continually push for users to just use a powered hub might make sense and support the fact that they really don't address this as a real problem.

                               

                              I know 1st hand that not all products are scrapped at testing and are offered to 2nd tier customers at a discount if they can live with the "limitations" of the "defective" product.

                              • 12. Re: Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi

                                Mentioning the junk USB controller brought to mind a little question.  Do any other devices of Broadcom's apart from the unfortunate BCM2835 use the same USB core?

                                Not sure about that, but seemingly there's other stuff out there that does use the same USB core. There are some ongoing efforts to get a driver of some description into the mainline kernel and apparently this was happening independently of the Pi.

                                 

                                That said, GregKH had some interesting comments on the USB hardware recently:

                                 

                                http://article.gmane.org/gmane.linux.kernel.rpi/78

                                http://article.gmane.org/gmane.linux.kernel.rpi/80

                                • 13. Re: Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi

                                  Is X11 accelerated?

                                  No.

                                  Does mplayer work? 

                                  See above..

                                  Are the drivers included in mainline Linux?

                                  No.

                                   

                                  and those answers seem reasonably similar across all of the various arm boards.  No X11 accel is usually due to the same problem of no useful documentation available to enable writing an opensource driver. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that to change. There is an effort to reverse engineer the Mali GPU drivers, but even there if you look at x86 and the work that's been going for years to produce an nVidia driver I'd not expect too much in the lifetime of any of these boards.

                                   

                                  Other than GPU, most things seem to be functional, but when you start digging it's amazing how many of the other boards have network, SATA, or whatever hanging off USB anyway. Experience with USB on the Pi and the tendency of a lot of the arm stuff to be aimed at phones, tablets or such like consumer crap and therefore have usb-otg certainly makes me thing twice about anything with arm & usb in the same chip

                                  • 14. Re: Interesting "Competitors" for the Raspberry Pi

                                    This article is talking about a $99 dollar supercomputer that has 16 cores @ 700MHz each.

                                    The big problem I see with that one is that it's a dual core A9 arm with 16 additional cores that you probably won't be able to use for anything much, effectively similar to the Pi's GPU. There's no detail of exactly what these extra cores are, but the implication is that thery're OpenCL compute processors.

                                     

                                    Still, a dual core A9 with 1G of ram and Gigabit ethernet for $99 actually seems quite decent.  More details needed obviously - like does it have GPIO - but it's certainly worth watching.

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