Raspberry-Pi compared with Sheevaplug


13 posts
by jasonl » Tue Aug 30, 2011 3:25 pm
Hi, I've got a Sheevaplug. It's running a few server processes, and it's a small ARM test-rig for trying out a few things. It's running Debian Squeeze armel version off an 8GB SD card, with a USB hard drive for media storage. It's been running pretty well, for the last 18 months or so more-or-less 24/7. The original PSU burnt out - but this is pretty common and was replaced with a better one.

It was quite fun once to install DosBox on the Sheeva, and run Windows 3.1 via SSH. This could be an answer to the FAQ "Will the R-Pi run Windows?". Yup .... just a veeery old one. :-) I've tried LibreOffice, and that works surprisingly well.

Here's a semi-speculative comparison with the Raspberry Pi from my reading on this site:

Better on the Sheevaplug plug computer:
Faster processor (1Ghz Arm vs 700Mhz)
More RAM 512MB RAM as standard - vs 128/256 shared with graphics
Connectivity: some versions have eSATA, Wifi, multiple Ethernet ports
Comes in an enclosure with PSU
Available now :-)

Worse on the Sheevaplug:
No Floating Point hardware (mp3 encoding is NOT good on the Sheeva)
No display adapter (let alone OpenGL rendering)
More expensive (by 4x )
Runs hot (some versions have real cooling trouble)
Cheap capacitors in PSU fail

It'll be interesting to see if the R-pi has an impact on the plug-computer scene, too. Also might be instructive to run some comparative benchmarks.

Sorry for the long post.
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by Svartalf » Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:30 pm
Quote from jasonl on August 30, 2011, 16:25
Hi, I've got a Sheevaplug. It's running a few server processes, and it's a small ARM test-rig for trying out a few things. It's running Debian Squeeze armel version off an 8GB SD card, with a USB hard drive for media storage. It's been running pretty well, for the last 18 months or so more-or-less 24/7. The original PSU burnt out - but this is pretty common and was replaced with a better one.


Nifty little toys those.


It was quite fun once to install DosBox on the Sheeva, and run Windows 3.1 via SSH. This could be an answer to the FAQ "Will the R-Pi run Windows?". Yup .... just a veeery old one. :-) I've tried LibreOffice, and that works surprisingly well.


Would've thought that LibreOffice would work decently well on it. DOSBox? So far, I've not been overly impressed with it on ARM platforms right at the moment... It runs things like Win 3.1, but only for relative levels of "runs"- it definitely couldn't run my copy of Asendancy with any playability and this was on a Tegra 2 tablet...


Faster processor (1Ghz Arm vs 700Mhz)


Do not make comparisons of clock speeds save with processors in the same basic architechture lineup. You're comparing apples to rocks here. For example, do you think that an OMAP2 will compare, clock-to-clock to an OMAP3? If you did, you'd be wrong. The 3 will be as much as 6 times faster at clock-for-clock comparisons because the 3 uses a Cortex A8 versus the ARM9 in the 2. In this case, you're talking about a heavily modified ARMv5 processor versus an ARM11. You've little info on which will actually be faster right at the moment- you'll need to do those benchmarks you mention to even get a whiff of which is actually faster.


More RAM 512MB RAM as standard - vs 128/256 shared with graphics


You'd be correct on the statement- and while it's shared with graphics, it's typically NOT allocated until it's used. So, if you're not using anything other than the framebuffer, you only lost the framebuffer. You're operating in the ARM world instead of the PC world- and your assumptions from the one don't completely map to the other.


Connectivity: some versions have eSATA, Wifi, multiple Ethernet ports
Comes in an enclosure with PSU
Available now :-)


Yeah, for $150-250, depending on which plug you're purchasing- the price being caused because of the tidbits you mention running the price up.

It's got a differing purpose. If you were going to buy one of those or a BeagleBoard or PandaBoard, you'd have done it already... I have. ;)


Worse on the Sheevaplug:
No Floating Point hardware (mp3 encoding is NOT good on the Sheeva)
No display adapter (let alone OpenGL rendering)
More expensive (by 4x )
Runs hot (some versions have real cooling trouble)
Cheap capacitors in PSU fail


Heh... In short, it's nifty for doing server-centric stuff, but it's got design flaws (Cheap caps in the PSU doesn't give me warm fuzzies for the thing- I just spent HOW much and it has craptastic caps?) and it doesn't accomplish what this device seeks to do.
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by jasonl » Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:29 am
Thanks for the reply - I wasn't really making value judgements saying one was superior than the other. Just that there are similarities. I'm sure a lot of Raspberr(y/ie)s will end up in server roles like the current plug computers.

Quote from Svartalf on August 31, 2011, 14:30

Would've thought that LibreOffice would work decently well on it. DOSBox? So far, I've not been overly impressed with it on ARM platforms right at the moment... It runs things like Win 3.1, but only for relative levels of "runs"- it definitely couldn't run my copy of Asendancy with any playability and this was on a Tegra 2 tablet...


Apart from 3D Monster Maze, Manic Miner and Elite I was never much into gaming. I tested DosBox just to see if it would work. I was impressed with the original PC emulator on the original Archimedes back in the day - so in a way this was an homage to that. DosBox runs Wordperfect 5.1 pretty well, too.



Faster processor (1Ghz Arm vs 700Mhz)


Do not make comparisons of clock speeds save with processors in the same basic architechture lineup. You're comparing apples to rocks here. For example, do you think that an OMAP2 will compare, clock-to-clock to an OMAP3? If you did, you'd be wrong. The 3 will be as much as 6 times faster at clock-for-clock comparisons because the 3 uses a Cortex A8 versus the ARM9 in the 2. In this case, you're talking about a heavily modified ARMv5 processor versus an ARM11. You've little info on which will actually be faster right at the moment- you'll need to do those benchmarks you mention to even get a whiff of which is actually faster.


I was just being speculative - I was under the impression there were similar cores in the Pi and Sheeva as they would run the same armel variant of Debian. The Pi has the interesting additional FPU and GPU which would more than make up for that 300mhz difference clock speed if the clock speeds were comparable.



More RAM 512MB RAM as standard - vs 128/256 shared with graphics

You'd be correct on the statement- and while it's shared with graphics, it's typically NOT allocated until it's used. So, if you're not using anything other than the framebuffer, you only lost the framebuffer. You're operating in the ARM world instead of the PC world- and your assumptions from the one don't completely map to the other.

I'm not making assumptions. Just comparing the basic numbers. :-) RAM is RAM - and lack of it will be an issue for running some of the larger desktop software now available. OpenOffice used to be rubbish on a 128MB PC. It'll be interesting to see how LibreOffice and Firefox perform on the 256MB Raspberry Pi - especially if swap becomes an issue. If they don't perform, then there are pretty good lightweight alternatives.

Heh... In short, it's nifty for doing server-centric stuff, but it's got design flaws (Cheap caps in the PSU doesn't give me warm fuzzies for the thing- I just spent HOW much and it has craptastic caps?) and it doesn't accomplish what this device seeks to do.

Don't get me wrong - I like the Plug Computer - it's a good server and works perfectly for what I bought it for. But it suffers from lack of attention to detail or penny-pinching seen with a lot of current computer equipment/consumer electronics. The PSU replacement was pretty easy, just annoying. Won't have _that_ problem with the R-Pi. ;-)
Hooked up to a monitor it'll be the Archimedes I could never afford back then. For an afternoon playing Zarch at the very least....
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by unholythree » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:37 am
One nice thing about the Sheevaplug is the number of flavors it comes in (GuruPlug Server Plus looks particularly useful but expensive) hopefully the subsequent R-Pi runs will diversify too. With the R-Pi's price point it can't help but take some of the plug market.
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by jamesh » Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:25 am
Well, if anyone has a Sheeva plug, can they run the linpack bench mark on it? We have results for the Arm11 on the Raspi so it would be interesting to compare. I couldn't find any results using Google.

Also, is response the the Ram is Ram comment above.....well, yes, but the memory subsystem (ie the silicon used to handle access to the memory) is very important in how well that RAM is used. The one in the Raspi SoC is very (very) good.
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by jasonl » Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:20 pm
Quote from jamesh on September 8, 2011, 09:25
Well, if anyone has a Sheeva plug, can they run the linpack bench mark on it? We have results for the Arm11 on the Raspi so it would be interesting to compare. I couldn't find any results using Google.


This is from my (original model) Sheevaplug running Debian Squeeze
uname -a
Linux sheeva 2.6.32-5-kirkwood #1 Tue Mar 8 10:56:14 UTC 2011 armv5tel GNU/Linux
and compiled with gcc -O3

~$./a.out
Enter array size (q to quit) [200]:
Memory required: 315K.

LINPACK benchmark, Double precision.
Machine precision: 15 digits.
Array size 200 X 200.
Average rolled and unrolled performance:

Reps Time(s) DGEFA DGESL OVERHEAD KFLOPS
----------------------------------------------------
4 0.50 88.00% 6.00% 6.00% 11687.943
8 0.99 93.94% 2.02% 4.04% 11564.912
16 2.01 92.04% 2.99% 4.98% 11504.363
32 4.01 92.02% 3.49% 4.49% 11474.326
64 8.02 92.27% 2.87% 4.86% 11519.441
128 16.05 92.27% 2.62% 5.11% 11542.132


So about twice as fast as the R-Pi's software FP, but half as fast as the hardware floating point quoted in the other thread.

I tried encoding a 3 minute MP3 from an uncompressed WAV using lame . The Sheevaplug encodes at about 0.33x realtime - i.e. it takes 9 minutes to encode a 3 minute track. It'd be interesting to see how the R-Pi compares with the faster floating point, faster ram but slower processor. Flac encoding the same WAV file takes about 40s on the Sheeva. I don't think there's much floating point math involved in that, though.


Also, is response the the Ram is Ram comment above.....well, yes, but the memory subsystem (ie the silicon used to handle access to the memory) is very important in how well that RAM is used. The one in the Raspi SoC is very (very) good.


Sounds great, and would make up for the fewer mhz in the processor when compared with the Sheeva's ARM. It's good as long as you stay within the bounds of the RAM, and don't hit the swap, though.
If the base system is fairly lean, and care is taken about Ram usage in the programs you're running (or programming) it should be OK. It'll be interesting to see how the little R-Pi performs generally. I'm not sure how much high-end photo-editing I'd be doing on it, though!

What would be great if there was an easy way for the system (by extension the user and programmer) to make use of the GFLOPS that the GPU is reported to have - it would make the little R-Pi card a mathematical powerhouse. :-)
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by obarthelemy » Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:32 pm
I have a feeling SD access could be quite good too, if we get a good SD socket, which is not guaranteed.
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by john564 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:55 am
I have both, used as Openvpn server

the Sheeva plug broke my heart, useless shipped ubuntu system completely
missing kernal , the whole serial I/O connection was amateurish and messy.
and all the useful blog entries at plugcomputer.org are deleted like this one...
http://www.plugcomputer.org/plugwiki/In ... -linux.com
Plus the guys working at NewIT give some good help, but then run away and never reply
to e-mails about kernal system support.

The Raspberry Pi, comes with normal IO system, and SD images that just work,

But yeah, the Sheevaplug h/w comes as a complete package, with its own case, and cables, and power,

All in all, for simple server usage, like VPN, the Raspberry Pi is easier and cheaper, and better supported.
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by k4gbb » Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:36 am
Last year I set up several plugs as HAM Radio servers. We paid around $125 each...
shipping and extra SD card.
We had to switch from Ubuntu, near useless, to Debian and recompile the OS.
Once that was done we had a reliable System. They are still in service.

This year I took up the RPi.
Three reasons... price, GUI, and
some of our "caretakers" are not comfortable with the CLI.
The resources used with Local terminal operation is a "wash".
Once installed the Servers run headless and are maintained via SSh

The plug is not really any faster than the RPi it does appear to be more stable, but
some of our software is hampered by the floating point issue.
When it comes to the bottom line... I go with the RPi.
It's not perfect, but is is improving.
The support community is Huge and diversified.

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by gyeben » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:08 pm
Hi! I think you didn't do some much research before posting this.

jasonl wrote:Faster processor (1Ghz Arm vs 700Mhz)


RasPi can be switched to a so-called "turbo" mode which is technically overclocking the CPU and the GPU without voiding warranty. In turbo mode, RasPi's processor can run at 1Ghz as well, if needed.

jasonl wrote:More RAM 512MB RAM as standard - vs 128/256 shared with graphics


The latest revision of RasPi contains 512MB RAM.

jasonl wrote:Available now :-)


RasPi is available at the moment, too - at Farnell and several Farnell-based resellers.
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by jamesh » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:23 pm
gyeben wrote:Hi! I think you didn't do some much research before posting this.

jasonl wrote:Faster processor (1Ghz Arm vs 700Mhz)


RasPi can be switched to a so-called "turbo" mode which is technically overclocking the CPU and the GPU without voiding warranty. In turbo mode, RasPi's processor can run at 1Ghz as well, if needed.

jasonl wrote:More RAM 512MB RAM as standard - vs 128/256 shared with graphics


The latest revision of RasPi contains 512MB RAM.

jasonl wrote:Available now :-)


RasPi is available at the moment, too - at Farnell and several Farnell-based resellers.


Although he did write the OP over a year ago...
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by gyeben » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:59 pm
jamesh wrote:Although he did write the OP over a year ago...


Oops, I didn't see that. Sorry. :(
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by PeterT » Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:15 am
I have two sheevaplugs and a dreamplug. One sheevaplug is a spare, the other controls my home and the dreamplug is a proxy for the sheevaplug. My first sheevplug blew its power supply and has had some SD card problems, which was all sorted out with the help of NewIT. Otherwise they all run very reliably.

The sheevaplug is connected, via an unpowered USB hub, to an X10 Computer Interface Module, RF Receiver, Mobile Phone and Memory Stick. I assume that I would need a powered hub to achieve this with an Rpi.

The dreamplug has debian running on an internal microSD card (upgraded to 8GB) with the /home directory on a plug-in SD 8GB card. It has two ethernet ports and wifi. Thus is makes a very useful intrusion detection tool. Rpi could do this as well.

Comparison can only be made between the Rpi and other low power small computers when considering the system application.
RPi running Rasbian, SheevaPlug and DreamPlug both running Debian Wheezy, 2 netbooks both running Debian Wheezy with Gnome 3.
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