jamesh
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Fri May 10, 2013 8:03 am

Raspi Forum figures...

STATISTICS
Total posts 339198 • Total topics 40158 • Total members 66899
Principal Software Engineer at Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd.
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Rene_is_I
Posts: 172
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Fri May 10, 2013 8:36 am

@jamesh
Those figures do tell a story.
Just wondering if someone at the Foundation has figures on a month to month basis from when the Pi was released and the forums started.
This can then be compared to the Mars on a similar basis.

The MarsBoard also seems to be sold using the same concept as the FriendlyArm which is "here is a cheap board, some basic info and a bit of software, now get on with it".
All well and good for a very small percentage of users.
The rest of us need some help.
It's also nice to have a strong active community where we can share ideas, get help and help others.

The Pi also has good back up in the form of the Foundation, Broadcom, RS, Farnell and even Sony.
A hard combination to beat.
Last edited by Rene_is_I on Fri May 10, 2013 8:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

jamesh
Raspberry Pi Engineer & Forum Moderator
Raspberry Pi Engineer & Forum Moderator
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Fri May 10, 2013 8:41 am

Rene_is_I wrote:@jamesh
Those figures do tell a story.
Just wondering if someone at the Foundation has figures on a month to month basis from when the Pi was released and the forums started.
This can then be compared to the Mars on a similar basis.
I think Clive at Raspi Towers did some analysis in that area just for fun. If I remember I'll ask when I have my first visit there at lunchtime!

Back in darkest history, we all got very excited when the member count hit 500...
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morphy_richards
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Fri May 10, 2013 8:41 am

jamesh wrote:Raspi Forum figures...

STATISTICS
Total posts 339198 • Total topics 40158 • Total members 66899
Can we have a special prize for the person who makes the 1 millionth post? (Don't think we'll have to wait for long.)

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morphy_richards
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Fri May 10, 2013 8:42 am

jamesh wrote:
I think Clive at Raspi Towers did some analysis in that area just for fun. If I remember I'll ask when I have my first visit there at lunchtime!

Back in darkest history, we all got very excited when the member count hit 500...
Ahhhh ..and "database error".

Feels like that was centuries ago now.

W. H. Heydt
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Fri May 10, 2013 9:40 pm

As regards software support...

I was rather surprised--and no little amused--when I started up a Cubieboard and found out that you build a system starting with Berryboot and since I wanted a Debian distro for consistency with my Pis found out that the Cubie runs...Raspbian.

Berryboot does very nicely load Raspbian onto a SATA SSD, though

So in the final analysis, in spite of being an Allwinner A10, the software support for the Cubie is--for all practical purposes--this very forum.

pygmy_giant
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Fri May 10, 2013 10:16 pm

ha!

The Foundation should put Berryboot on the downloads page.

ssvb
Posts: 112
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Fri May 10, 2013 11:35 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote:As regards software support...

I was rather surprised--and no little amused--when I started up a Cubieboard and found out that you build a system starting with Berryboot and since I wanted a Debian distro for consistency with my Pis found out that the Cubie runs...Raspbian.
Cubie can run Raspbian. This is not surprising considering that ARMv7 is backwards compatible with ARMv6. But the performance is not going to be optimal because Raspbian is unable to use Cortex-A8 hardware to its fullest (Thumb2 and NEON). However people may surely try it for fun, just to check what it is all about :)

W. H. Heydt
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sat May 11, 2013 3:01 am

ssvb wrote:
W. H. Heydt wrote:As regards software support...

I was rather surprised--and no little amused--when I started up a Cubieboard and found out that you build a system starting with Berryboot and since I wanted a Debian distro for consistency with my Pis found out that the Cubie runs...Raspbian.
Cubie can run Raspbian. This is not surprising considering that ARMv7 is backwards compatible with ARMv6. But the performance is not going to be optimal because Raspbian is unable to use Cortex-A8 hardware to its fullest (Thumb2 and NEON). However people may surely try it for fun, just to check what it is all about :)
Well... Until the Cubie support people come up with a version of Debian that uses the newer features....

Rene_is_I
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sat May 11, 2013 9:17 am

Very interesting guys, although as a new comer to ARM, I'm a bit confused as to the compatibility issues.
In the x86, the location of peripherals, memory and opcodes are all pretty much standard which does not seem to be the case with ARM.
I also read on the BootBerry page:
The Android installer is universal and automatically patches the image with the hardware settings copied from Android (script.bin and u-boot SPL memory settings).
So I assume this is done to "compensate" for the different locations of peripherals and memory, is this correct?
If this is the case, then surely other patches can be written for other boards?

I also read that BootBerry uses different kernels for the Pi and other A10 based boards, is this to optimise the differences in ARM versions?

Sorry if the questions seem stupid, just trying to sort out this confusion in my mind.
The way I interpret it is as per block diagram below, can anyone confirm if this is correct or not?
Image

Larger diagram here:
http://s18.postimg.org/44h3m9y61/Boot_B ... iagram.jpg

Rene_is_I
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sat May 11, 2013 3:44 pm

As regards the forum popularity and growth discussed earlier, I managed to dig up some stats.
Attached are two text files, one in Windows EOL format and the other for Linux.
Please note that the files are normal text files but have had their extensions changed to .zip else they get rejected here.
Simply delete the trailing .zip
No guarantee that the numbers are 100% correct but it still shows the phenomenal growth.
Attachments
PiForumStats-WinFormat.txt.zip
(672 Bytes) Downloaded 94 times
PiForumStats-LinuxFormat.txt.zip
(652 Bytes) Downloaded 89 times

Rene_is_I
Posts: 172
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sat May 11, 2013 4:28 pm

In case anyone is having problems with tabulation, attached is the file in csv format.
Again delete the .zip
B.T.W. if you open the csv in Excel and just see a bunch of ####, then simply drag the column wider and the numbers will magically appear.
Don't you just love Windows? :(
Attachments
PiForumStats.csv.zip
(595 Bytes) Downloaded 90 times

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clive
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sat May 11, 2013 4:55 pm

Based on database stats from beginning of each month, membership growing steadily at c. 4k a month
raspimembership.png
raspimembership.png (36.57 KiB) Viewed 4804 times

Rene_is_I
Posts: 172
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sat May 11, 2013 4:57 pm

Wow, thanks Clive.
My stats weren't that far off.
PiStats2.png
PiStats2.png (4.77 KiB) Viewed 4782 times
PiStats1.png
PiStats1.png (10.67 KiB) Viewed 4782 times

plugwash
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sat May 11, 2013 9:58 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote: I was rather surprised--and no little amused--when I started up a Cubieboard and found out that you build a system starting with Berryboot and since I wanted a Debian distro for consistency with my Pis found out that the Cubie runs...Raspbian.
ROFL

Debian armhf would be a better fit than raspbian and shouldn't be any harder for them to write an installer script for.

ssvb
Posts: 112
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sun May 12, 2013 12:31 pm

Zalamel wrote: I was indeed talking about hardware and warranty worries. I haven't read a single good comment about the board in the Marsboard forums, Their customer service is also complained about among the users.

One user who continued to report failure was questioned, this was his reply:

"I have try all images who was recommended in download area before it was changed.
and try some of Miniands images etc.
As I have try 4 different boards i am realy shure it's a hardware construction failure on the board.
It's sad that Marsboard team don't take care of there customers.
As example publishing a script.fex file for the hardware and
update sunxi-bsp HW git archive."
I think it is all very simple. MarsBoard folks have very little or no clue about software. And they don't need to, it's not their job. Their job is to provide you with a working hardware. The hardware can be quickly validated using their flashable android and linux images from http://www.marsboard.com/download.html
That said, don't expect these images to be customized for your needs or provide an up to date version of your favourite distro. The only purpose is hardware validation.

Once you have a properly working Allwinner A10 based hardware, all the software support is provided by http://linux-sunxi.org community. In order to make everything significantly easier for the end users, the MarsBoard folks only need to contribute some basic MarsBoard hardware description (RAM size, clock frequency, etc.) to linux-sunxi community maintained u-boot. And they seem to be trying (a bit awkwardly and making some silly mistakes in the process): https://github.com/linux-sunxi/u-boot-sunxi/pull/33 https://github.com/linux-sunxi/u-boot-sunxi/pull/36

I have also found an interesting topic about Allwinner A20 support in their forum which confirms that they are just hardware people. Replying "it is available now, but i have not software, like uboot source code, ect." to "When your A20 version will be available?" question is telling a lot :)
It could be a great board, but the whole operation is a bit shoddy, in my opinion. However, I do hope it improves one day, it's a very nice piece of kit, in theory. :)
They only need to deliver a properly working hardware. There are a lot of different Allwinner A10 based devices on the market (HDMI dongles, tablets, TV boxes, ...). All of these consumer devices are originally intended to run Android by their manufacturers, but can be re-purposed to run Linux. Thanks to lack of security (no signed bootloaders, etc.), any Allwinner A10 device can boot the system from an SD card. Marsboard should not be any different.
Saying that, though, the Cubieboard has almost exactly the same specs, and very decent support. The Marsboard is essentially just a cheaper version of it.
The Marsboard also seems have a bit smaller size than Cubieboard, which might be important for some people.

But I agree that for most people Cubieboard is a much better choice than Marsboard. Maybe you pay a little bit more, but get proven hardware that is known to work. Also some part of the money is spent on improving software support and helping the developers: http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.comp.h ... k.arm/6043

pygmy_giant
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sun May 12, 2013 12:56 pm

Better on your desktop but no good hanging from a weather balloon floating over to switzerland - 10 W for the Cubie vs 2.5 W for a Pi model A.

The tinyduino: http://tiny-circuits.com/products/tinyduino/asm2001/ has negligable power consumption

ssvb
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sun May 12, 2013 1:54 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote: Well... Until the Cubie support people come up with a version of Debian that uses the newer features....
There is a lot more than just debian: http://linux-sunxi.org/ -> http://linux-sunxi.org/FirstSteps -> http://linux-sunxi.org/Bootable_OS_images

But now I see where is the significant difference coming from. There is too much diversity both in available Allwinner A10 based hardware and in the available Linux distributions which can run on this hardware. Too much freedom of choice for the users, which may be confusing at times.

Intentionally or not, but thanks to ARMv6 processor Raspberry Pi happens to be incompatible with most of the standard ARM Linux distributions, effectively limiting the choice. Combined with the promise not to introduce incompatible Raspberry Pi hardware upgrades in the foreseeable future, the users have to focus on just a single configuration and try to get the best out of it. The focus on a single configuration is not unique to Raspberry Pi and has proven to be successful (or at least competitive) in some other areas. Think about game consoles vs. PCs, Apple iPhone vs. Android phones, Raspberry Pi vs. all the other ARM Linux boards.

But I agree that the price is also very important. If I remember correctly, there was some kind of community discussion/voting in the early days of beaglebord regarding the upgrade of the hardware specs (increasing the RAM from 128MB to 256MB in 2008) versus trying to drive the price down and make it even more affordable. The beagleboard community was more in favour of increasing the specs, because ARM Linux was not very mature at that time with many problems to solve. And better hardware made the life of developers easier, allowing native compilation, etc. This worked really well and now we have a pretty good ARM support in Linux userland (with beagleboard availability playing a huge role in making this happen). However the beagle folks were kinda resting on laurels and forgot to revisit their price reduction plans at the right time, until Raspberry Pi came to eat their lunch. It's a dog eat dog situation (pun intended).

richardp
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sun May 12, 2013 1:56 pm

This brings back memory of my childhood...

"My Sinclair is better than your Commodore64".. even though Sinclair owners secretly wanted a commodore too!
RaspberryPi's galore
Solid run CuBox
ODroid U2

ssvb
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sun May 12, 2013 2:29 pm

pygmy_giant wrote:Better on your desktop but no good hanging from a weather balloon floating over to switzerland - 10 W for the Cubie
How did you measure this? The Cubieboard FAQ says "A 500mA supply is sufficient if you do not attach a SATA hard disk to the Cubieboard". And this discussion thread has some more detailed power consumption numbers for different types of workload.

pygmy_giant
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sun May 12, 2013 4:34 pm

Whatever - point is the recent pi balloon launch ran out of battery and stopped transmitting, so for projects like that, minimal is optimal.

Rene_is_I
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sun May 12, 2013 4:56 pm

richardp wrote:This brings back memory of my childhood...

"My Sinclair is better than your Commodore64".. even though Sinclair owners secretly wanted a commodore too!
Aah yes, the 80's, typing in programs from magazines, using audio cassettes for data backup and building custom joysticks.
I guess in many ways the proliferation of all these new mini computers has parallels to those days when many different manufactures and platforms were competing for dominance.

Most importantly those home computers from the 80s ushered in a revolution in affordable computing by freeing us from those big, lumbering boxes called mainframes.
Today it's the mini ARM based computer freeing us from the big, lumbering boxes called desktops.
I guess history does repeat itself, although thankfully with a few improvements like not having to type programs from magazines. :D

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Zalamel
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sun May 12, 2013 7:38 pm

ssvb wrote:
Zalamel wrote: Snip
I think it is all very simple. MarsBoard folks have very little or no clue about software. And they don't need to, it's not their job. Their job is to provide you with a working hardware. The hardware can be quickly validated using their flashable android and linux images from http://www.marsboard.com/download.html
That said, don't expect these images to be customized for your needs or provide an up to date version of your favourite distro. The only purpose is hardware validation.
It could be a great board, but the whole operation is a bit shoddy, in my opinion. However, I do hope it improves one day, it's a very nice piece of kit, in theory. :)
They only need to deliver a properly working hardware.
Saying that, though, the Cubieboard has almost exactly the same specs, and very decent support. The Marsboard is essentially just a cheaper version of it.
The Marsboard also seems have a bit smaller size than Cubieboard, which might be important for some people.

But I agree that for most people Cubieboard is a much better choice than Marsboard. Maybe you pay a little bit more, but get proven hardware that is known to work. Also some part of the money is spent on improving software support and helping the developers: http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.comp.h ... k.arm/6043

That's precisely the problem, though. From what I've read, it's very hit or miss that you will receive a functioning Marsboard. And if that does occur, I have a feeling I wouldn't like their return service.

As for software, I don't actually have enough knowledge to know what my preferred distro is. I'm quite the fledgling when it comes to Linux, I've only tried 3 so far, and liked them all equally well.

The Cubie also has had quite a nice community pop up around it, which I've now come to realize is a massive boon.

I don't mind that the Marsboard doesn't have massive software support, I wasn't expecting much from such a new board. I just want a working board to begin with. If they can't provide that, they shall be quietly swept under the rug.

Rene_is_I
Posts: 172
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sun May 12, 2013 8:07 pm

Zalamel wrote:
From what I've read, it's very hit or miss that you will receive a functioning Marsboard. And if that does occur, I have a feeling I wouldn't like their return service.
My thoughts exactly.

gritz
Posts: 449
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Re: Raspberry Pi Vs. Alternatives

Sun May 12, 2013 10:13 pm

Rene_is_I wrote:Zalamel wrote:
From what I've read, it's very hit or miss that you will receive a functioning Marsboard. And if that does occur, I have a feeling I wouldn't like their return service.
My thoughts exactly.
Perhaps it's because I'm old, grumpy, cynical and yet pragmatic about paying a realistic sum of money for hardware / software that works as per claimed spec and has a reasonable amount of factory support, but I can't help feeling that *any $50 "miracle" single board computer is going to be a crapshoot.

Getting into the ARM general purpose single board computer market just doesn't seem to be that tempting a proposition for the discerning hardware manufacturer - designing / building a device to include all of the do-dahs to satisfy the whims of your potential customers (and being mindful of the fact that it's probably going to have to retail for $50 tops) is the "easy" part. Making the out of the box experience not suck for all of your psychotically thrifty customers is the bit that hard to fulfil. The Foundation have been somewhat Pi-oneering (sorry about that!) in bringing an affordable yet reasonably functional board to market, fostering a community and raising the awareness of the concept, but I think that it's telling that much of the alternative hardware that has sprung up in it's wake is very much sold "as is" and is pitched at poundshop gladiators who know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing. The BBB is an interesting exception, being pitched by a big company with deep pockets at a very reasonable price.

I find it somewhat ironic that the Pi was created by the Foundation in order to promote an educational push so that a new generation of young people could be inspired to be engineers, but the consumer ARM thing thus far is anything but sound engineering in the sense of "choosing the most appropriate kit available to perform the task that you want to do". It all seem to be about "give me the cheapest board possible and I'll buy it - and then relegate it to the loft when I realise that it's buggy, unsupported, it draws too much power or doesn't have the connectivity I wanted, because I never bothered to read the datasheet".

Buy cheap, buy twice is an old concept, but I don't think it will ever go out of fashion. I just worry that ARM will get tangled up in a race to the bottom before it's had a chance to fulfil it's promise in terms of general purpose computing.

None of this matters to the cheapskate, of course - they just want a cheap thinger to play their library of pirated media - but some of us would like to see ARM get more widely adopted by more mainstream hardware and software developers so that we can continue to do the stuff that we do now, but with a lower power budget, smaller form factor, less noise and all the other good stuff. This would mean getting used to the idea of paying a realistic sum of money for stuff that worked as it should.

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