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Raspberry Pi finds competition in Banana Pi

Posted: 13 May 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Raspberry Pi  Banana Pi  single-board computer  ARM Cortex 

A single-board computer has been recently announced that claims to rival the Raspberry Pi. Banana Pi is an exact replica of Raspberry Pi, except that it boasts more memory and a faster processor. At $57, it features a 1GHz Allwinner A20 dual-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor and 1GB of RAM, and is said to enable the development of wireless servers, computers, games, HD video, speakers and more, since it is open-source.

Banana Pi also features HDMI and composite video inputs, a 3.5mm audio input, SD card slot, built-in microphone, 2 USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, an IR receiver, SATA port, Micro USB port for power, and Raspberry Pi-compatible headers, including camera connector and 26-pin header.

Banana Pi

Banana Pi. (Source: RasPi.TV)

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi. (Source: RasPi.TV)

On the surface, Banana Pi seems to give the $35 Raspberry Pi a run for its money, as it seems to be the same product. Depending on the intended use and the developer's level of skill, some might prefer Banana to Raspberry. For one developer, however, Banana Pi leaves much to be desired.

The ribbon connectors on Banana Pi feature a different width and pitch, making it incompatible with Raspberry Pi accessories. With this, the GPIO and composite ports are positioned at a larger distance from one another on the Banana Pi, meaning not all Raspberry Pi add-ons will work with the card.

The micro-PC takes longer to boot than its fruity competitor and offers less control, as it automatically logs the user in and goes directly to the LXDE. The Banana also throws quite a fit if an image uploaded so happens to be improperly compressed and resized. Lastly, the card does not yet support a GPU. Don't fret, the user feedback isn't all negative.

The Banana does, after all, have more memory and RAM than Raspberry Pi, thus enabling web browsing and basic navigation at a tolerable speed. It also supports a range of OS, including Android, Android 4.4, Raspberry Pi, Ubuntu and Debian. The computer chip also supports the app, Scratch.

Banana Pi seems ideal for advanced developers that are looking for a more powerful card. While the Banana does not yet have established software, it does offer more powerful hardware, which can certainly be useful to professional developers. Given its present lack of support, however, the Banana cannot compete with the plethora of Raspberry Pi-friendly resources for the average DIYer.

- Cabe Atwell
  EE Times

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