The Raspberry Pi has spawned a brand-new generation that imitators. One of the top contenders is the Banana Pi.

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The Raspberry Pi computer system has been a runaway success because its relax two and a half years ago. Through success come imitation, and also many new products space seeking to follow in the footsteps the the Raspberry Pi and cash in top top the renewed interest in computing, programming, and also hacking.

One of these hopefuls is the Banana Pi <1>, i beg your pardon you might only define as a Raspberry Pi clone. The Banana Pi to be designed and also built in Shenzhen, China, where a large number of her gadgets and other possessions are likely manufactured.

I find it a small bit disappointing to check out boards coming the end that are (to most people) such blatant clones of the Raspberry Pi and that do not right now give ago to the community in the same method – but I intend it would be naïve to assume this would certainly not take place in today"s world. Having said that, the old saying goes "imitation is the highest form of flattery," and ultimately, ns think that an ext choice in the open source marketplace deserve to never be a negative thing. Ns guess the very fact that people are make the efforts to construct businesses on peak of the Raspberry Pi ethos and type factor goes to show what one impressive and also solid communication it is for whatever from learning and also hacking to commercial applications. So, without more ado, I"ll unpack this new product – the Banana Pi.

First Impressions

When I an initial saw the Banana Pi board on the Internet, it looked almost identical to the Raspberry Pi (Figure 1). Unequal the production version plank (which is a dark blue – comparable to the color of most Adafruit products), the original Banana Pi prototypes to be green and also were nearly indistinguishable native the Raspberry Pi at a fast glance. Many of the contents on the Banana Pi board additionally appeared to be in a comparable position, which included to the similar appearance, return the Banana Pi has a couple of more connectors.

Figure 1: The Banana Pi plank looks strikingly similar to the Raspberry Pi – and it is.

This similarity is somewhat of one illusion. A closer look at reveals the overall size that the Raspberry Pi is approximately 56x85 mm, conversely, the Banana Pi is 60x92 mm, which represents a size increase of approximately 16 percent in board surface area.

As girlfriend will view in number 2, this increase is rather significant. For a product that is a clone of the Raspberry Pi, this size differential is a problem because it way that girlfriend can"t usage the same situation for both systems – also with far-ranging modifications. Furthermore, the Banana Pi offers a slightly diluent 1-mm circuit board compared to the 1.5-mm board offered on the Raspberry Pi.

Figure 2: The is significantly larger than the Raspberry Pi, definition they won"t to the right in the same instance or mounting slot.

The height of the Banana Pi watch a little bit sparse in places due to the fact that the processor and also RAM chips space actually situated on the underside the the plank (Figure 3). The CPU is the large chip ~ above the bottom, which says Allwinner A20 top top it, and also the ram chips room the slightly smaller sized ones beside it. The ram chips supplied on the Banana Pi are standard DDR3 lamb chips which, together you deserve to see, are placed separately native the CPU. Top top the Raspberry Pi, however, the lamb is mounted directly on peak of the BCM2835 in a pop (package on package) layout and is the the LPDDR2 type. LPDDR2 is a low-power RAM typical designed for usage in battery powered and also mobile devices and also performs similarly, but much more efficiently, to the DDR3 RAM offered in the Banana Pi.

Figure 3: The processor and also RAM chips are located on the underside of the Banana Pi, permitting for a much more sparse style above.

The Banana Pi provides use that the Mali-400 MP2 graphic processor (GPU), together opposed to the Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU used in the Raspberry Pi. Which one is a better GPU is under continuous debate, and under various tests, castle perform really differently – the Mali-400 win the Broadcom chip considerably in the GTKperf check <2>; however, in various other tests, the Broadcom unit performs better (as is frequently the situation with CPU and GPU benchmarking tests). In any kind of case, both board have really good double core graphics processors.

Perhaps the most crucial factor in the graphics conflict is the VPU (visual processor unit), especially if you are intending on running a media facility with among these devices. The hardware acceleration accessible in the Banana Pi is alongside non-existent, and there is no XBMC support. According to a recent thread top top the XBMC forum, XBMC support for the Allwinner A20 is i can not qualify <3> due to poor support native Allwinner and also the reality that the A20 is now quite old (approximately 2 years).

You can forget around using XBMC because that playback of any 1080p video, and also because the Raspbmc and OpenELEC distros room both constructed on XBMC, you won"t have the ability to use them with Banana Pi. Video clip players that can run there is no GPU or VPU support will likely still work-related fine, however they also will practically certainly no be qualified of 1080p playback (or anything close come it).

According to several sources, the Banana Pi GPU currently isn"t sustained for Raspbian either, therefore the LXDE graphical desktop environment is running completely on the CPU, which is a little disappointing. If you space not intending to undertake any type of graphics intensive tasks like 3D rendering or high an interpretation video playback, these constraints probably won"t matter too lot to you; however, the is precious noting that, definitely for the time being, hardware-accelerated graphics are not walking to happen unless you put in a far-reaching amount the work.

The Banana Pi uses all the very same connectors girlfriend are acquainted with top top the Raspberry Pi: HDMI, Ethernet, 2 x USB, microUSB power in, RCA video, 3.5mm audio jack, and both camera (CSI) and display (DSI) ports. The Banana Pi also accepts a full-size SD card in the slot top top the bottom, i beg your pardon is in the same location as top top the Raspberry Pi, but it supplies what looks choose a contempt sturdier steel port – which would likely suffer less accidental breakages 보다 the one ~ above the Raspberry Pi.

Some of these ports are actually in various locations or upgraded top top the Banana Pi – the Ethernet is a Gigabit Ethernet port, the CSI and also DSI connectors have actually been swapped in location and also are physical larger and are that a different pitch (size/spacing the pins), and the microUSB strength port has actually been moved onto the very same side as the HDMI connector. The Banana Pi also adds a microUSB OTG (on the go) port (where the microUSB power is on the Raspberry Pi), SATA power (the small white connector between the 2 microUSB ports), and also a SATA data harbor (the huge black one alongside HDMI port).

Other additional items existing on the Banana Pi are an onboard microphone (between the RCA video clip and 3.5mm audio jack), one IR recipient (next to the USB ports), a difficult power-off button and also a reset button (both top top the very same edge as the USB OTG port), and a 3rd user-programmable switch (behind the Ethernet port). Bizarrely, the Banana Pi has actually a large amount of unused an are on peak of the board with only power (red) and also Ethernet standing (blue) LEDs, for this reason you have actually no easy method to screen CPU activity. The Ethernet port additionally has its very own LEDs developed into the connector, for this reason you deserve to see network activity. Additionally, you have a user-programmable (green) LED.

After you boots the Banana Pi (you can discover instructions because that SD card production below), you"ll quickly notification the CPU renovations – the system boots increase faster, programs fill faster, and also intensive tasks use less CPU power. Browsing the Internet additionally is remarkable faster, many thanks to the faster processor and also the upgraded Ethernet capability. Once I had booted up right into Raspbian ~ above the Banana Pi, ns ran an update:

sudo apt-get updateand

sudo apt-get upgradeOn mine Raspberry Pis, these regulates usually send the CPU intake straight as much as 100 percent; ~ above the Banana Pi, the update procedure uses an mean of about 20 percent through a height of about 50 percent for a couple of seconds. You"ll find a more methodical test of the CPU and also GPU digital <1>. The test shows that, as soon as running a twin threaded test on the Banana Pi using sysbench, the Allwinner A20 CPU is roughly 4 times much faster than the BCM2835 CPU in the Raspberry Pi – this is hardly surprising as it is to compare an old, single-core ARMv6 processor through a newer, twin core, arm Cortex-A7 CPU. Bizarrely, in that exact same study, the Raspberry Pi beat the Banana Pi in a single-threaded test, but this can be an anomalous an outcome and might differ utilizing a various CPU benchmarking method.

Banana Pi is not as rapid as an up-to-date desktop computer computer, but it would certainly make a much more acceptable computer for day-to-day intake than a Raspberry Pi – but in that arena, you may be far better off simply purchasing a cheap Allwinner A20 (or other CPU) based phone or tablet, or something favor the Cubox-i native Solidrun <4>.

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Table 1 mirrors a comparison between the specifications the the Banana Pi and the Raspberry Pi model B through 512MB RAM.