The battle of the fruits: Raspberry Pi vs Banana Pi
20 September 2017
A few years ago, the small, inexpensive and versatile Raspberry Pi conquered the developer community. Can the new Banana Pi M2 Berry be a contender?
Mini computers are a popular choice for creating your own electronics projects. Whether you want to install your own smart home system or experiment with robotics, the Raspberry Pi has established itself as the go-to computer. Even beginners can set it up in just a few steps, but it’s also suitable for advanced electronics projects thanks to its various functions.
Banana Pi is a similar minicomputer, developed by ‘Sinovoip’. With the new Banana Pi M2 Berry, the Chinese manufacturer has developed a much-respected competitor that will appeal to technology buffs.
Fruity names aren’t the only things these two computers have in common: The Banana Pi M2 has the same size and arrangement of connectors as the Raspberry Pi 3. This Banana Pi model is the first to be fully compatible with the Raspberry Pi accessories, making it possible to use the large range of expansion boards and housings available for Raspberry Pi’s.
The Banana Pi M2 Berry is equipped with a 32-bit Quad-Core ARM-Cortex-A7-SoC, of type Allwinner V40. It has a dual core Mali 400 MP2, 500MHz graphics chip. With a RAM of 1GB DDR3 SD and 733MHz, so it can keep up with the performance of a Raspberry Pi 3. However, it does not have 64-bit support.
The Banana Pi M2 Berry’s greatest strength is its internet connectivity. In addition to pre-installed Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, it also provides a port for 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet, covering all conventional network standards. With the Gigabit LAN interface, Sinovoip has an advantage over the Raspberry Pi which only offers 100Mbit/s.
Another important difference between the Banana Pi M2 Berry and the Raspberry Pi is the SATA interface. A hard drive, SSD or optical drive can be connected via the SATA port, therefore, the new single-board computer is suitable for projects that collect or require a lot of data. In addition, the Banana model provides a 5-volt power connector for a 2.5in hard drive. However, the power supply is not sufficient for an additional hard drive. If you install an extra hard drive, you should always arrange another adaptor for the power supply.
What other interfaces are there?
In the Banana Pi M2 Berry’s main slots there are: the 40 PIN GPIOs (compatible with Raspberry, UART, I2C, SPI, PWM and I2S), the integrated CSI camera interface, the DSI display interface and USB OTG. It also supports a MicroSD memory card. For audio and video, there is a HDMI connection as well as a 3.5mm jack for headphones or a microphone. The Banana Pi M2 Berry, however, does not have a composite video output like the Raspberry Pi. This is not a problem though since the fully HD-capable HDMI output can be used for video broadcasts. Furthermore, the Banana Pi M2 Berry also supports 1080p video output, meaning its limitations are minimal. The Banana Pi also has two buttons for practical use (a reset and a clear button) – one more than the Raspberry Pi.
The Banana Pi M2 Berry has everything to convince a die-hard Raspberry Pi fan and a bit more. With the Gigabit Ethernet port and the ability to expand the Banana Pi with a hard disk drive, it offers developers the functions they have been waiting for. The biggest advantage is, that the changeover from using a Raspberry Pi is almost effortless. Not only can components and instructions for the Raspberry Pi be used simply, the software also won’t need a major rethink, as Raspbian is also supported alongside the operating systems, Debian Linux, Ubuntu Linux and Android.
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