ullix
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Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:04 pm

Yesterday I got my Raspberry Pi (model B) from RS together with a 4GB SDHC(speed 6) card with installed OS (Debian squeeze) and began to set it up with great excitement.

The excitement waned quickly, and gave room for deep disappointment - video playback at best was a fast slideshow, and at worst did not work because the cpu was overloaded.

A good part of the Raspi promotion centered around the statement "It also plays high-definition video." (see e.g. the FAQ) with supporting videos. This was the prime key to my interest in Raspi. So I mounted nfs shares via wired Ethernet with video files coded in H264, mpeg2, xvid, and mjpeg, and tried to play.

First I noticed that there was no preinstalled video player. After installing a few updates and attempting to install players, I ran out of space on the chip. Problem is that RS sends a 4GB SD card with a 2GB image, and leaves 2GB unused. Of course, you can't expand your partition into that extra space while you are using that partition to run your OS from. But when you have to use a second computer anyway, and have to understand what you are doing in fiddling with partitions, what is the point of a presumed service delivering that card (except for an extra 200% markup on the card)?

So I downloaded the Debian Wheezy beta and installed it on a new 4GB SDHC(speed 10) (i.e. faster card than the one from RS, but from the same Transcend brand). With command dd it worked well (but usb-writer failed to do the installation, although there were no spaces in the file path). Then updating and downloading video players: totem could not be installed due to missing dependencies, ffplay always responds with "illegal instruction" even with nothing but "ffplay" entered, vlc could be installed, but apparently it needs too many resources, as videos wouldn't play and sometimes it would hang the system. The command line mplayer finally worked.

However, irrespective of the coding of the video file the result was a slow-motion at best (mpeg2 file) or a fast slide-presentation (H264 file). In all cases cpu load was 100%. Sound was missing, except in the case of some H264 files, where non-decipherable sound bites burst in synchrony with the individually visible frames of the video. The big_buck_bunny movie in the h264-720p coding - not even Full HD! - showed single frames you could count by hand, and had no sound whatsoever.

Then I prepared an external USB disk with some of those video files, and connected it to the Raspi via a powered USB hub, and also copied a small file on the SDHC card. Playing videos from either source was even slower than from the 100MB ethernet.

I am interested to hear if anyone can really and reproducibly play any video, let alone HD video, on the raspi. I doubt it after trying the two Debian versions.

In my short testing I ran across many problems which apparently had to do with the very-low-power cpu. I wouldn't mind various bugs this early in development - and I found plenty - , but I don't see how to overcome the power limitation.

To a user, the hardware is a mess! Why on earth was there a focus on shrinking the mainboard to a "credit-card-sized-computer", which has plugs coming out from all sides of the mainboard, of various depths, thereby easily tripling the footprint of the "credit card"? A little bit larger size of the mainboard, and one might have been able to neatly arrange the connectors on one side or two at the most.

So, it is mainly for education purposes, like programming in Python? But why on earth are you setting up a system where you can always become root by simply entering sudo - no password required? What message does this send to the students?

This is not the system I think you had promised.

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alexeames
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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:15 pm

You need to use a player that can utilise the GPU. The only one that works in Debian is Omxplayer.
Alternatively, you can look into one of the XBMC distros - for example OpenELEC.

Even then, for the moment you will be restricted to H.264 as that is the only hardware codec at the moment (with the possibility of a license pack in future).

I can assure you that Omxplayer is capable of running full HD big buck bunny as I did this to test the power load while GPU was being used. Have a look in the power thread, linked in my signature.

Most of your issues will be solved with a little bit of reading around the issue in these forums. It's a good device, but a lot of people haven't done enough "homework" before making their purchase.
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JoeDaStudd
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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:32 pm

Use OpenELEC or the other htpc distro (my minds gone blank) with xbmc. You'll be impressed with the video playback, its very solid considering its still a WIP.

The HD video playback promotion work was mostly (pretty much all of it) done outside of the foundation. People saw the few blog posts containing the RasPi playing HD video then put $25/$35 plus the blog posts and touted RasPi=$25 HTPC.

Form factor well it depends on the application. I can see a ton of applications which only require HDMI, power and nano receivers. Heck a wifi server (using model A) would only need a powersupply lead or battery pack.

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:13 pm

ullix wrote:Yesterday I got my Raspberry Pi (model B) from RS together with a 4GB SDHC(speed 6) card with installed OS (Debian squeeze) and began to set it up with great excitement...
This is not the system I think you had promised.
If you are using an SD card with a pre-installed OS then I'm not surprised you are disappointed. Download and install the latest version of Debian. Also, there are many SD cards that are slow. Before blaming the Pi, make sure yours isn't one of them. That said, the Pi is never going to perform like a desktop and you shouldn't have expected it to.

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:14 pm

ullix wrote:Yesterday I got my Raspberry Pi (model B) from RS together with a 4GB SDHC(speed 6) card with installed OS (Debian squeeze) and began to set it up with great excitement.

The excitement waned quickly, and gave room for deep disappointment - video playback at best was a fast slideshow, and at worst did not work because the cpu was overloaded.

A good part of the Raspi promotion centered around the statement "It also plays high-definition video." (see e.g. the FAQ) with supporting videos. This was the prime key to my interest in Raspi. So I mounted nfs shares via wired Ethernet with video files coded in H264, mpeg2, xvid, and mjpeg, and tried to play.

First I noticed that there was no preinstalled video player. After installing a few updates and attempting to install players, I ran out of space on the chip. Problem is that RS sends a 4GB SD card with a 2GB image, and leaves 2GB unused. Of course, you can't expand your partition into that extra space while you are using that partition to run your OS from. But when you have to use a second computer anyway, and have to understand what you are doing in fiddling with partitions, what is the point of a presumed service delivering that card (except for an extra 200% markup on the card)?

So I downloaded the Debian Wheezy beta and installed it on a new 4GB SDHC(speed 10) (i.e. faster card than the one from RS, but from the same Transcend brand). With command dd it worked well (but usb-writer failed to do the installation, although there were no spaces in the file path). Then updating and downloading video players: totem could not be installed due to missing dependencies, ffplay always responds with "illegal instruction" even with nothing but "ffplay" entered, vlc could be installed, but apparently it needs too many resources, as videos wouldn't play and sometimes it would hang the system. The command line mplayer finally worked.

However, irrespective of the coding of the video file the result was a slow-motion at best (mpeg2 file) or a fast slide-presentation (H264 file). In all cases cpu load was 100%. Sound was missing, except in the case of some H264 files, where non-decipherable sound bites burst in synchrony with the individually visible frames of the video. The big_buck_bunny movie in the h264-720p coding - not even Full HD! - showed single frames you could count by hand, and had no sound whatsoever.

Then I prepared an external USB disk with some of those video files, and connected it to the Raspi via a powered USB hub, and also copied a small file on the SDHC card. Playing videos from either source was even slower than from the 100MB ethernet.

I am interested to hear if anyone can really and reproducibly play any video, let alone HD video, on the raspi. I doubt it after trying the two Debian versions.

In my short testing I ran across many problems which apparently had to do with the very-low-power cpu. I wouldn't mind various bugs this early in development - and I found plenty - , but I don't see how to overcome the power limitation.

To a user, the hardware is a mess! Why on earth was there a focus on shrinking the mainboard to a "credit-card-sized-computer", which has plugs coming out from all sides of the mainboard, of various depths, thereby easily tripling the footprint of the "credit card"? A little bit larger size of the mainboard, and one might have been able to neatly arrange the connectors on one side or two at the most.

So, it is mainly for education purposes, like programming in Python? But why on earth are you setting up a system where you can always become root by simply entering sudo - no password required? What message does this send to the students?

This is not the system I think you had promised.
H264 playback works fine if you use a player that uses the HW acceleration. Please read the Wiki or search the forum - all this has been explained many times.

Keeping the PCB small means the device costs less. Again, mentioned a lot. It meant the $25 price point was maintained. Any smaller would have made it more expensive, any larger would have made it more expensive.

Using sudo to get root access is fairly standard AIUI. If you want to set up your device differently please go ahead. Also, please remember the software is still in beta.

Latest Wheezy beta allows you to resize the image to fill the SD card - its in the config menus that come up on first boot.

This is the system that has been documented. We are not responsible for anyone's misunderstanding of the specifications.
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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:28 pm

It's a pity that you have found it so disappointing; yes, there are a few quirks and bugs but all in all it's pretty damn good for the price. It might have helped you if you had looked at the forum and the FAQs and the Wiki whilst waiting for the Pi to arrive. That way you could have saved some money on the card by buying a cheaper one, downloading the 2GB image and resizing it already to go before the Pi turned up. If you didn't have a Linux machine to do that on, then the Wiki page http://elinux.org/RPi_Easy_SD_Card_Setup tells you how you can resize it on a live Pi. That's what I had to do when my card writer failed and it's no big deal.

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Thu Jun 21, 2012 11:41 pm

raspbmc is a distro with a custom version of XMBC. Image that to your SD card & it boots straight to XMBC. I think it self expands to fill the card too.
The site appears to be down at the moment but you should be able to get it at http://www.raspbmc.com/download/

It plays H264 & other formats fine. As others have said, make sure you

Code: Select all

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
If you are using a SD card from a distributor.

I'd imagine when the XMBC work is completed it may get added to the repositories so that an apt-get can install it on the 'supported distro', but remember this is all early days.

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:01 am

Please don't give up. I too expected highdef H264 out of the box, saw it wasn't available and just followed the instructions for omxplayer. I was convinced that a newbie like me couldn't compile his own ffmpeg components but the instructions got me through it. I can't describe the sense of triumph when it worked first time, with sound. Ignoring the graphical desktop and running it straight from the command line is pleasingly industrial.

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Fri Jun 22, 2012 12:02 pm

Omxplayer is included in the new Wheezy beta version, so that compiling game should be in the past. And it's nice to have video playing capability in Debian, but for just watching content, XBMC is much more user-friendly. If I'm booting my pi just to watch something I'll swap over to the OpenELEC SD card.

One of the main strengths of the SD card boot is you can change over your OS in seconds. Embrace the power of Pi. :shock:
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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:22 pm

ullix wrote: To a user, the hardware is a mess! Why on earth was there a focus on shrinking the mainboard to a "credit-card-sized-computer", which has plugs coming out from all sides of the mainboard, of various depths, thereby easily tripling the footprint of the "credit card"? A little bit larger size of the mainboard, and one might have been able to neatly arrange the connectors on one side or two at the most.
I don't have a Pi yet - so can't comment on performance (and that's something that'll improve as software is updated)

But I really agree with the board layout being a bit of a mess, with cables out of every side... There's just no way to set it up neatly - not so bad for individual tinkerers - but it's going to look a mess in a school computer lab where there's lots of them, isn't it?

A slightly bigger board with all the main connectors along one side would have been so much neater!

But it's still early days for the platform - maybe we'll see 'C' and 'D' models in the future - maybe with a revised layout, and/or wifi, and/or a slightly quicker CPU?

I'll have to admit that I was really excited about the Pi back in around February... But with such a long wait to actually get hold of one, the excitement is fading (I just got my invite to order today - so finally got one ordered - but 10 more weeks for delivery... so September...)

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:48 pm

bluescreen wrote:a slightly quicker CPU?
If you wan't a slightly quicker CPU you can always overclock. (offtopic, but relevant)
{sig} Setup: Original version Raspberry Pi (B, rev1, 256MB), Dell 2001FP monitor (1600x1200), 8GB Class 4 SD Card with Raspbian and XBMC, DD-WRT wireless bridge

ullix
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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Sat Jun 23, 2012 5:46 pm

Thanks for pointing out that a special player is needed to take advantage of the GPU. And no, despite very closely following the blogs, I didn't know this. Perhaps naively, I saw this statement (my bold)
http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/592:
Codecs
Two licensed codecs will be provided at launch, MPEG4 and h.264 .... accelerated by the GPU.
and wrongly concluded its in the libraries by default. The omxplayer is in Debian Wheezy by default. I tried a variety of files either h264 or h264/avc encoded, with containers mp4, mkv, m4v, mov, avi. In particular, I used the bigbuckbunny in the 720p h264, extension mov file, and recoded by handbrake into mp4 and mkv. For most of the files, omxplayer would list some correct details of the file, and end immediately by wishing a nice day. The most I got was sound from some files (but not bigbuckbunny). I never saw a picture let alone video - not even a window would open! And same result whether starting from within or outside the X screen.

Do you use omxplayer under Wheezy successfully? Does it need additional libraries, which are not included by default? Any other tricks?

Regarding the sd card: The QuickStart says you need class 4 at least; the RS shipped card is class 6, and my own card was class 10. That is the fastest type of SDHC card currently available.

Something else: I often - sometimes at every keystroke - get a fast autorepeat of the last key entered, which continues even with the keyboard unplugged. (The keyboard works fine everywhere else). After some 100 (?) repeats it ends. This comes irrespective of whether the kb is directly connected to the raspi, or via a (powered) hub. This makes e.g. logging in a nightmare. Is this seen by others?

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Sat Jun 23, 2012 6:29 pm

I on the other hand have been pleasantly surprised by its speed as I knew I wasn't buying an intel Core i5 for £29.46, particularly as I already have one.

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Sat Jun 23, 2012 7:00 pm

ullix wrote:Do you use omxplayer under Wheezy successfully? Does it need additional libraries, which are not included by default? Any other tricks?
Well I can't fully answer that without doing a wipe and reinstall (and, sorry, I don't love you that much). But I'll explain myself.

I originally had the 19th April Debian squeeze distro and found a thread on here called Omxplayer. In that thread Dom and spennig give instructions for installing Omxplayer. So I used those instructions to do the install. Played with it for a bit - it definitely runs BBB @ 1080p - and then moved on to XMBC for media playing as it gives you more direct controls and a nice GUI (for media use).

Then, earlier this week I made up a card with a fresh Wheexy beta image, set up a load of stuff on it including wifi and get_iplayer (so I could check that my blogged tutorial was still accurate).
Then, after your initial post I thought I'd install Omxplayer in wheezy, so I typed

Code: Select all

sudo apt-get install omxplayer
and it started to do its thing - but before I knew it there was a message telling me it was replacing an existing version EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK. From which I drew the conclusion that omxplayer was already installed on Wheezy. Unless I image a new card or we get someone else to check, I suppose I can't fully answer you. But anyway, after trying to rectify my error, I purged omxplayer and reinstalled it in wheezy. It now works (but it might well have done so without any intervention by me :oops: )

Code: Select all

omxplayer -o hdmi bigbuckbunny.mp4
Where -o hdmi sends the sound through the HDMI port (and obviously you have to be in a directory containing your media file or input the full path to it.)

To check if omxplayer is installed, just type omxplayer and it will respond.
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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Sat Jun 23, 2012 7:02 pm

The_Saint wrote:I on the other hand have been pleasantly surprised by its speed as I knew I wasn't buying an intel Core i5 for £29.46, particularly as I already have one.
I've got an i7 with wheels and a sandwich. :lol:
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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Sat Jun 23, 2012 7:59 pm

@ullix - what memory split are you using... I suspect the more common 224/32? The GPU needs more than 32MB for video decoding. Change your start.elf to one which allocates less memory to the arm, and more to the GPU.

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Sat Jun 23, 2012 10:14 pm

ullix wrote: Regarding the sd card: The QuickStart says you need class 4 at least; the RS shipped card is class 6, and my own card was class 10. That is the fastest type of SDHC card currently available.

Something else: I often - sometimes at every keystroke - get a fast autorepeat of the last key entered, which continues even with the keyboard unplugged. (The keyboard works fine everywhere else). After some 100 (?) repeats it ends. This comes irrespective of whether the kb is directly connected to the raspi, or via a (powered) hub. This makes e.g. logging in a nightmare. Is this seen by others?
There are a few posts about the SD card speeds, as far as I can make out it seems like the best idea may be to boot from the SD & have the main system partition on a flash drive. I have setup one install to do this, but I haven't done any speed tests. The Pi is IO constrained so you'll never get maximum USB read/write speeds. The Raspbmc site has a walkthrough on SD+USB booting IIRC. It really is worth grabbing the Raspbmc installer & seeing if that works better if you are only interested in video playback.

Either use the Mac/Linux or Windows scripts
http://www.raspbmc.com/download/
or unpack and 'dd' the image
http://download.raspbmc.com/downloads/b ... ler.img.gz

Your keyboard issue sounds like you are not getting enough power - search the for 'power & repeating keys'. I remember reading about it but I can't remember where, sorry. It's probably worth checking your peripherals to see if they appear in the list of supported & unsupported devices.
http://elinux.org/RPi_VerifiedPeripherals

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:25 am

I would not even bother thinking about high-definition video until you get your basic problems sorted out.

The keyboard has to work - reliably.
The mouse has to work - reliably.
The SD card has to work - reliably.
The internet connection has to work - reliably.
The console has to work through the HDMI cable - reliably.

If any of those are not good, it probably relates to the power supply or hub you are using.

Start with the verified good peripheral web page.

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:32 am

alexeames wrote:You need to use a player that can utilise the GPU. The only one that works in Debian is Omxplayer.
.
Just a query, how can you know whether a specific program uses the GPU.

I have never even thought about this but haven't got my Pi yet.

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:40 am

lewmur wrote: the Pi is never going to perform like a desktop and you shouldn't have expected it to.
Whilst I never expected it would the Pi's twitter profile has a post from a guy who wants to run a small brewery using the Pi.

Nobody dismissed this suggestion and many positive replies were posted.

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:49 am

lewmur wrote:there are many SD cards that are slow. Before blaming the Pi, make sure yours isn't one of them.
I recently purchased a Sandisk Extreme, supposedly very fast,

Tested using hdparm -tT /dev/disk it is slower than my slowest USB key.

I checked this on a HP Media Centre laptop and an Acer Aspire One netbook.

Geffers

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:46 am

From my reading of the OP, I don't think he expected a Core i5, 7 or anything of the sort.

I think he had made the mistakte though, as many people do, of looking at the postings made here and elsewhere of the features of the pi and expected these to work as they were sold.

'It plays hi-def video' - yes it does, but only certain types and then with a player that doesn't exist in the default build.
'It play Quake' - Yes, it does, but with no sound.
'Here's a picture of a user running win 8 through RDP/ VNC or whatever' - Many users are just gonig to see this as 'it runs win 8'
'It comes with a browser' - Yes it does, but until someone in the community sorts out x acceleration, it is hardly usable on the modern web
'It runs from an SD card' - It does, but you have to be careful what type you buy, as it is very picky about what cards it runs with
'It uses a mobile phone power supply, you'll have one lying around' - Yep, it does, but you have to do careful research before hand to find one that actually works. (cf SD cards)

Need I go on ?

I am happy with my Pi, as I accept it is a development board with some way to go to have,say, the support of something like the Arduino. However, postings on here, especially when they come from the foundation themselves, can easily lead the unwary to expect something that they aren't going to get or be able to do without a lot of fiddling.

Perhaps for the How-to postings, we could have a rating of Beginner /Average / Advanced to give people some idea of what you need to do to get it doing X

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:50 am

geffers wrote:
lewmur wrote: the Pi is never going to perform like a desktop and you shouldn't have expected it to.
Whilst I never expected it would the Pi's twitter profile has a post from a guy who wants to run a small brewery using the Pi.

Nobody dismissed this suggestion and many positive replies were posted.

Geffers
Why shouldn't there be positive replies? He wants to use the Pi for "process control". Using several Pi's for that purpose is just the sort of thing it's best at.

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Sun Jun 24, 2012 12:02 pm

geffers wrote:
alexeames wrote:You need to use a player that can utilise the GPU. The only one that works in Debian is Omxplayer.
.
Just a query, how can you know whether a specific program uses the GPU.
That's a good question and at the moment the list if pretty short. As far as video is concerned, we're limited to omxplayer and XBMC. I believe XBMC uses Omxplayer. XBMC comes in at least two flavours though, the most known ones (to me) being RaspBMC and OpenELEC.

As far as other programs go, I think that anything which uses OpenGLES can utilise the GPU. Off the top of my head, the only other program I can think of (and I may be wrong about this) that uses OpenGLES is Quake III. There may well be others though.

There is still a very long way to go in terms of software, and the Pi is at a very early developmental stage.

As to the brewery control system, that shouldn't stress the Pi at all. You could do it with arduino too. It's just interfacing, there's no great amount of processing power required. This is one of the things the Pi was designed to do (interfacing I mean, not controlling a brewery). :D
Alex Eames RasPi.TV, RasP.iO

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Re: Overpromised and Underdelivered?

Sun Jun 24, 2012 12:04 pm

babbage wrote:From my reading of the OP, I don't think he expected a Core i5, 7 or anything of the sort.

I think he had made the mistakte though, as many people do, of looking at the postings made here and elsewhere of the features of the pi and expected these to work as they were sold.
X
Sold by whom? The Foundation has never promised any of the stuff you listed. It has been very open about the fact that this first release is a developemental release.. Anyone who read the "hype" coming from outside the Foundation and didn't read carefully enough to heed warnings of many others, pretty much set themselves up for disappointment.

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