BeagleBone Black Vs Raspberry Pi: Choose the Right SBC

BeagleBone Black Vs Raspberry Pi

BeagleBone Black Vs Raspberry Pi: Choose the Right SBC

SBC (Single Board Computer) is not a new term for the electronics tinkerers and enthusiasts. An SBC is a full computer which builds on a single circuit board, and that’s why called so. It comes with a memory, I/O pins, and microprocessors.

Yes, I know there are many blogs and articles mentioning about the Raspberry Pi and Beaglebone Black. Also, it’s a matter of the fact that the Raspberry Pi and Beaglebone Black have some similar process of working. But there are a few areas where one is better than the other. So, let’s get in the details.

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a real revolution in the electronics field. This tiny supercomputer has allowed and helped to develop millions of innovative designs and useful consumer products. In Feb 2012, the first Raspberry Pi was launched with the purpose of teaching electronics & coding to kids and younger students in the easy & fun way. But, soon due to its usefulness, it became popular among worldwide enthusiasts, hobbyists, and professionals to implement their ideas.

From the Raspberry Pi One to the latest and fastest Raspberry Pi 3, all the boards are suited for all specific robotics or electronics project requirements.

BeagleBone Black

BeagleBone Black is the modern development platform from the BeagleBoard family. It has a small size like a credit card (like a Pi!), affordable price, and faster-growing community support. It is a powerful, tiny yet significantly expandable product which helps the designers, tinkerers, engineers, hobbyists, and other professionals to build truly innovative, useful, and powerful projects.

Unlike the Raspberry Pi, the idea behind launching this easy, cheap microprocessor was to provide a supportive platform to the tinkerers for building new SOC (System-On-Chip) devices which can perform the tasks like a computer on a single chip.

The above summary may create a little bit of confusion that if both are affordable, powerful, small-sized and useful for the electronics enthusiast, then which is the better among them? Well, it’s somewhat difficult to make a judgment. So I will compare the most advanced and smartest boards from both the sides and they are the BeagleBone Black & Raspberry Pi 3.

BeagleBone Black Vs Raspberry Pi 3

To have the exact comparison, we will take a look at various aspects from unpacking the devices to their performance regarding computing & graphics.

We will compare both the board in terms of:

1) Unboxing

2) Setup

3) Processing Power

4) Graphical Capability

5) Power Consumption

6) Cost

7) Compatibility & Expansion

8) Community Support

1) Unboxing

The Raspberry Pi 3 comes in a simple white cardboard box. It does not come with any kind of accessories unless you buy a complete Raspberry Pi starter kit. Also, it not has any markings on the board, so it’s better to have a prior knowledge of the different ports and components of it. Whereas the BeagleBone Black comes with a mini USB cable and an introductory card in a well-packaged box.

2) Setup

Setting up a BeagleBone Black is simple. You need to attach it to your computer through the mini USB cable to power it up. Then, the board will automatically boot up with the onboard storage. Just install some drivers (included with the package) which is a quick & easy task to start interacting with the board.

The Raspberry Pi 3 setup is a relatively lengthy process. You need to purchase an external USB cable to power-up the board. It also does not come with an onboard storage and a pre-installed Operating System to get going with it. You need to get an SD card and then install the OS on it. Once done, attach it with your Pi 3, and then you can go ahead with your board.

3) Processing Power

In purchasing a suitable single board computer, the processor in an essential factor. How fast and reliable your board will perform depends on its processing speed.

The Raspberry Pi 3 built with a 1.2GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 ARMv8 processor with 1GB LPDDR2 RAM. While the BeagleBone Black includes a 1GHz ARM cortex-A8 AM335x processor with 512MB DDR3 RAM. This shows that the Raspberry Pi 3 has more processing power and developer support than the BeagleBone Black.

4) Graphical Capability

BeagleBone Black has inbuilt graphics that supports various resolutions with a maximum of 1280 x 1024 Pixels. It does need an HDMI port working for any kind of audio or video processing, even if your setup doesn’t need any high-level requirements.

On the other hand, the Raspberry Pi 3 comes with the upgraded Broadcom VideoCore IV 3D GPU. It has the ability to play 1080P HD videos and also lets you enjoy OpenGL games without lagging.

5) Power Consumption

The Raspberry Pi 3 needs a 5V 2.5A power supply for a basic project setup. Depending on the peripherals you use or external components you attach with the Pi, the power supply needs may alter. While the BeagleBone Black consumes low power comparatively.

6) Cost

If you are a die-hard fan of an SBC, then this is not a great factor that should be considered over your needs. But having figures in mind always helps to be precise in your decision.

The BeagleBone Black is available at about $50 price tag which includes a board, a USB cable, and an instruction guide. If you want to use more than one USB ports, then you need to separately buy a USB Hub and an HDMI cord for graphical processing. The Raspberry Pi 3 can be bought at a price of $35 (the Raspberry Pi 2 is also available at the same price) which includes a board only and all other required things you need to buy externally. If you want to buy a full Raspberry Pi 3 kit, then you can get it near about $70-$80.

7) Compatibility & Expansion

The BeagleBone Black comes with two 46-pin headers which allow making 92 possible connections. They are specified as

  • 65 GPIO pins
  • 7 Analog inputs
  • 8 PWM outputs
  • 2 SPI buses
  • 2 I2C buses
  • 4 Timers
  • 4 UARTs
  • 25 PRU low-latency I/O

The BeagleBone Black supports eight types of modes which includes GPIO too.

beagleboard gpio

The Raspberry Pi 3 comes with a single 40 pin header which includes;

  • 24 GPIO pins
  • 2 power pins for 5V supply
  • 2 power pins for 3.3V supply
  • 2 SPI buses
  • 8 ground pins
  • JTAG
  • 1 I2C bus

rpi gpio

Moreover, the Raspberry Pi supports HAT (Hardware on Top) feature to connect external components to the board. So, if you want a significant number of connections without any hassle of wiring, then you can go with the BeagleBone Black. Otherwise, the Raspberry Pi can also do the job nicely.

The BeagleBone Black supports Ubuntu, Android, Debian, and Cloud9 IDE. On the other hand, Raspberry Pi 3 supports the latest version of Microsoft Windows 10 other than all of those supported by the BeagleBone.

8) Community Support

The Raspberry Pi clearly outplays all the other Single Board Computers in the aspect of community support. The main reason behind this may be the active hobbyists and electronic enthusiasts who regularly share their Raspberry Pi projects, experiences, ideas, problems, and solutions to get over them on the Raspberry Pi forums and supported platforms.

If you want a graphical learning platform, a pure IoT projects, or want to test & expand your designing skills with electronics components, then go with the Raspberry Pi. If you are a beginner who just wants to get going with the SBC board or want to tinker with the Embedded systems, then you should choose BeagleBone Black.

Quick Comparison of BeagleBone Vs Raspberry Pi 3 Vs Raspberry Pi 2

FeatureBeagleBone BlackRaspberry Pi 3Raspberry Pi 2
Processor1GHz ARM1.2GHz quad-core ARM900MHz ARM
Memory512MB DDR31GB LPDDR21GB
Storage4GB onboard, MicroSDMicroSDMicroSD
GPIO65/92 Pins24/40 Pins26/40 Pins
Cost$50$35$35

Which is the right SBC for you? BeagleBone Black or Raspberry Pi 3?

The selection of the best SBC changes from head to head. But, having some main factors in mind helps to have a better choice.

The BeagleBone Black offers you more flexibility in terms of hardware, while the Raspberry Pi has most advanced and extensive documentation support. The Pi 3 has the faster computing processor than the BeagleBone Black, but consumes more power even in the simplest of designs.

So, if you want to work with a lot of motors and sensors or want to get going smoothly at startup, then I recommend using BeagleBone Black. And if you’re going to expand your innovative ideas with genuine support from worldwide coders and designers with a little bit of self-tinkering, then go with the Raspberry Pi 3 or Raspberry Pi 2 or any other Pi board.

If you think I missed something here, then do let me know through the comment section below. Feel free to make readers know your thoughts, experiments, designing ideas, and anything else regarding electronics or robotics projects here.

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