Personal computing discussed

Moderators: mac_h8r1, Nelliesboo

 
DPete27
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
Topic Author
Posts: 3186
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:50 pm
Location: Wisconsin, USA

Help Picking Dev Board

Thu Jan 28, 2016 10:13 am

I've been keeping the Rasberry Pi in the corner of my eye basically since it came out. I'm most familiar with Windows operating environments, so the specs always seemed lacking for mainstream usage. However, I just discovered the Orange Pi Plus which seems to be getting into specs that rival any modern smartphone at least. I'd be looking at installing Linux on one of these, and probably at first doing something like a HTPC with it. Just mess around with stuff, explore new things.

Since I'm new to this whole concept, I'd like something that's got most of the parts there already (the first Raspberry Pi was frighteningly barren), so having a wireless card (unsure about it's effectiveness, maybe not worth the added cost?) and some [common] inputs and outputs is comforting. What I'm not sure about is RAM. I don't have a ton of Linux experience, so how much RAM is recommended? At least the 1GB I'm assuming? There's also a model with 2GB for $10 more.

Is $40 even a good price for something like this?
Are these dev boards up to a point where they're worth using?
What do you do with yours?
Main: i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-M, MSI RX480 8G, 500GB Crucial BX100, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 16GB 1600MHz G.Skill @1.25V, EVGA 550-G2, Silverstone PS07B
HTPC: A8-5600K, MSI FM2-A75IA-E53, 4TB Seagate SSHD, 8GB 1866MHz G.Skill, Crosley D-25 Case Mod
 
Flatland_Spider
Graphmaster Gerbil
Posts: 1324
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2004 8:33 pm

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Thu Jan 28, 2016 11:36 am

DPete27 wrote:
I'm most familiar with Windows operating environments, so the specs always seemed lacking for mainstream usage.


Mainstream use was never the point. It was supposed to be a cheap, unbrickable computer with limited processing power and relatively powerful graphics for game programming.

Windows is also pretty heavy, so it's not a good comparison.

DPete27 wrote:
I'd be looking at installing Linux on one of these, and probably at first doing something like a HTPC with it. Just mess around with stuff, explore new things. Since I'm new to this whole concept, I'd like something that's got most of the parts there already (the first Raspberry Pi was frighteningly barren), so having a wireless card (unsure about it's effectiveness, maybe not worth the added cost?) and some [common] inputs and outputs is comforting.


You should probably get a cheap x86 board first.

DPete27 wrote:
What I'm not sure about is RAM. I don't have a ton of Linux experience, so how much RAM is recommended? At least the 1GB I'm assuming? There's also a model with 2GB for $10 more.

Is $40 even a good price for something like this?
Are these dev boards up to a point where they're worth using?
What do you do with yours?


You're going to be hamstrung by the CPU first. 1GB is more then enough to run headless and maybe drive a display. More RAM is always good, but it's not a requirement.

$40 is about what a complete kit costs.

For what they are intended to do, attach to sensors, run headless, maybe drive a display, get people familiar with embedded programming, yes. A desktop replace, not so much.
 
biffzinker
Gerbil Jedi
Posts: 1937
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:53 pm
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Thu Jan 28, 2016 3:41 pm

It would take you... 2233 continuous hours or 93 days, 1 hour, and 20 minutes of gameplay to complete your Steam library.
In this time you could... Speed run Super Mario Bros (NES) 26,800 times.
 
MarkG509
Gerbil Elite
Posts: 743
Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:51 pm

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Thu Jan 28, 2016 6:00 pm

biffzinker wrote:

@BodaciousCowboy: This post is a prime example of why the ability to up-vote (in some TBD visible way) posts would be valuable for TR.
 
synthtel2
Gold subscriber
Gerbil Elite
Posts: 609
Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:30 am

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Thu Jan 28, 2016 6:11 pm

It depends what you're doing, of course, but I wouldn't consider 1GB RAM a problem at all for such a thing. My daily driver Arch installation isn't quite typical, but I'm using *checks* 657MB RAM right now, of which 463MB is Firefox. It's definitely feasible to keep idle RAM use in the sub-200MB range with a setup designed with that in mind, and even something closer to stock Ubuntu/Mint should fit comfortably within a half gig (assuming Gnome/KDE/whoever haven't been breaking things lately - I haven't checked in a while).
 
localhostrulez
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
Posts: 2481
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:26 pm

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Thu Jan 28, 2016 6:16 pm

synthtel2 wrote:
It depends what you're doing, of course, but I wouldn't consider 1GB RAM a problem at all for such a thing. My daily driver Arch installation isn't quite typical, but I'm using *checks* 657MB RAM right now, of which 463MB is Firefox. It's definitely feasible to keep idle RAM use in the sub-200MB range with a setup designed with that in mind, and even something closer to stock Ubuntu/Mint should fit comfortably within a half gig (assuming Gnome/KDE/whoever haven't been breaking things lately - I haven't checked in a while).

I booted up a 64-bit linux distro for cloning/partitioning a while back (though it probably had Firefox as well), and it was using 130MB of RAM or so. On a machine with 12GB. Yep, 1%. :lol: Windows never comes close to that - the graphics RAM allocations alone (for the IGP and the Firepro dGPU on the laptop)... I end up with 512MB permanently taken for the dGPU (set in the BIOS), and Windows 7 uses 2GB on idle (1GB seems to be itself, the rest seems to be the IGP stealing system RAM). Yowsa.
 
Flatland_Spider
Graphmaster Gerbil
Posts: 1324
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2004 8:33 pm

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Thu Jan 28, 2016 7:57 pm

biffzinker wrote:


Here's the home page for Odroid. http://www.hardkernel.com/main/main.php

Just keep in mind you're dependent on the community and more obscure things have smaller communities.
 
DPete27
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
Topic Author
Posts: 3186
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:50 pm
Location: Wisconsin, USA

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Thu Jan 28, 2016 11:41 pm

You definitely have a point about the community. Orange Pi seems...lacking in that department. Their own webpage barely works!

Interesting read on the 8-way comparison. I expected the quad A7 in the Orange Pi to beat the quad A5 in the Odroid since the A7 is a more robust core (from my understanding) and the clock speed is slightly higher. I guess the Mali 450 on the Odroid gave it the advantage against the Orange Pi's Mali 400

I'm still on the fence as to what platform I should get though.
Main: i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-M, MSI RX480 8G, 500GB Crucial BX100, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 16GB 1600MHz G.Skill @1.25V, EVGA 550-G2, Silverstone PS07B
HTPC: A8-5600K, MSI FM2-A75IA-E53, 4TB Seagate SSHD, 8GB 1866MHz G.Skill, Crosley D-25 Case Mod
 
malicious
Gerbil First Class
Posts: 184
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2002 1:12 am
Location: California, USA

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Thu Jan 28, 2016 11:53 pm

The Raspberry Pi and Beaglebone product lines are still the single board computers to beat for tinkering and hobbyists in my non-expert opinion. Between those two, Raspberry Pis are better suited for HTPC roles.

Other SBCs have superior hardware but those two have the large, active communities which are indispensable for researching a project and troubleshooting. Equally important is that the companies and foundations behind the Pis and Beaglebones support their products. It's common practice for "open source" SoC manufacturers to release source code for only one Linux kernel version plus binary blob driver modules. Users eventually must chose between an EoL kernel no longer receiving patches or a current kernel without hardware drivers, if one is even available. This wiki page for Allwinner SoCs is a good example. Boards based on Rockchip and Amlogic chips suffer from the same problem; the user communities need to pick up the slack or they become effectively abandoned products fairly soon after release. It's a shame because some of them have nice hardware for the cost. By contrast, official disk images for Pis and Beaglebones are regularly released with updated kernels and software packages.

Is $40 even a good price for something like this?

The $35 or whatever board prices are a bit deceptive because they will probably need at least a few accessories. A power plug will be several additional dollars because your phone charger may not provide enough voltage and amperage to keep the board and peripherals(like a wireless adapter) happy, a case will be another several bucks, maybe a new SD card also, and so on.

Are these dev boards up to a point where they're worth using?

As light duty servers, network appliances, media streamers, or brains for a hardware project, sure. As general purpose computers or HTPCs that are expected to transcode on the fly, entry level x86 machines are probably better bargains despite higher cost, and they have the option for Windows should the open source operating systems not work out. There are x86 SBCs but I personally would rather have a low end NUC or mini-ITX system for the price.
 
biffzinker
Gerbil Jedi
Posts: 1937
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:53 pm
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Fri Jan 29, 2016 1:07 am

DPete27 wrote:
You definitely have a point about the community. Orange Pi seems...lacking in that department. Their own webpage barely works!

Interesting read on the 8-way comparison. I expected the quad A7 in the Orange Pi to beat the quad A5 in the Odroid since the A7 is a more robust core (from my understanding) and the clock speed is slightly higher. I guess the Mali 450 on the Odroid gave it the advantage against the Orange Pi's Mali 400

I'm still on the fence as to what platform I should get though.

All of the benchmarks ran in the 8 way roundup were cpu bound the gpu wasn't touched. If I had to guess why the Orange Pi didn't do so well I would point to the A7 cores being heavily overvolted, and overclocked on the Orange Pi, thermal throttling perhaps?
It would take you... 2233 continuous hours or 93 days, 1 hour, and 20 minutes of gameplay to complete your Steam library.
In this time you could... Speed run Super Mario Bros (NES) 26,800 times.
 
DPete27
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
Topic Author
Posts: 3186
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:50 pm
Location: Wisconsin, USA

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:06 am

You don't suppose they tested the Orange Pi without the optional heatsink?....would they? As shown in the pictures, the Odroid came with an installed heatsink, both Orange Pi's didn't.

[Edit] SoB! I think they did test the Orange Pi's without a heatsink. Even the Banana Pi with the same A7 but @ 1GHz outperformed the Orange. The Banana came with a small CPU heatsink.....come on people.

I'm still torn. The Odroid's community is SIGNIFICANTLY more established than the Orange Pi. Although for the same price, the Odroid lacks included Wifi ($10 USB nano adapter), doesn't have a SATA port (never know what you might want to do with the board), and doesn't include any onboard storage(?) which Odroid wants $25 for an 8GB card (I suppose you could put the OS on a microSD card). Suddenly the cost of the Odroid just doubled.
Last edited by DPete27 on Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
Main: i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-M, MSI RX480 8G, 500GB Crucial BX100, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 16GB 1600MHz G.Skill @1.25V, EVGA 550-G2, Silverstone PS07B
HTPC: A8-5600K, MSI FM2-A75IA-E53, 4TB Seagate SSHD, 8GB 1866MHz G.Skill, Crosley D-25 Case Mod
 
meerkt
Gerbil Elite
Posts: 810
Joined: Sun Aug 25, 2013 2:55 am

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:27 am

What's the intended use?

HTPC: perhaps the way to go is one of the Chinese mini-computers based around some video-decode capable chip.

Embedded/mini-PC: If processing power isn't the prime concern (though v2 should be rather capable), Raspberry Pi 2 has the largest community.

Real embedded/cheap/low power: Some Arduino.
 
Flatland_Spider
Graphmaster Gerbil
Posts: 1324
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2004 8:33 pm

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Fri Jan 29, 2016 11:18 am

DPete27 wrote:
I'm still on the fence as to what platform I should get though.


x86. :) You should get familiar with Linux before wading into the the dev board waters.

Cheap x86 boards:
ASRock C70M1 AMD Dual-Core Ontario C-70: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... gnorebbr=1
BIOSTAR A68N-5000 AMD A4-5000 Quad-Core APU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... gnorebbr=1
 
biffzinker
Gerbil Jedi
Posts: 1937
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:53 pm
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Fri Jan 29, 2016 2:50 pm

Flatland_Spider wrote:
DPete27 wrote:
I'm still on the fence as to what platform I should get though.


x86. :) You should get familiar with Linux before wading into the the dev board waters.

Cheap x86 boards:
ASRock C70M1 AMD Dual-Core Ontario C-70: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... gnorebbr=1
BIOSTAR A68N-5000 AMD A4-5000 Quad-Core APU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... gnorebbr=1

Also this board from Biostar if you went the X86 route:
A68N-5200
It would take you... 2233 continuous hours or 93 days, 1 hour, and 20 minutes of gameplay to complete your Steam library.
In this time you could... Speed run Super Mario Bros (NES) 26,800 times.
 
DPete27
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
Topic Author
Posts: 3186
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:50 pm
Location: Wisconsin, USA

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:00 pm

I'm not interested in ultra low power x86 embedded motherboards. I have plenty of much more capable systems around the house that I can use to mess with Linux anytime I please. I want a super small little toy to play with and try to make my own Roku/Compute Stick/Fire TV/etc etc media streamer. Then see where I can take it from there.
Main: i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-M, MSI RX480 8G, 500GB Crucial BX100, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 16GB 1600MHz G.Skill @1.25V, EVGA 550-G2, Silverstone PS07B
HTPC: A8-5600K, MSI FM2-A75IA-E53, 4TB Seagate SSHD, 8GB 1866MHz G.Skill, Crosley D-25 Case Mod
 
biffzinker
Gerbil Jedi
Posts: 1937
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:53 pm
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:26 pm

DPete27 wrote:
I'm not interested in ultra low power x86 embedded motherboards. I have plenty of much more capable systems around the house that I can use to mess with Linux anytime I please. I want a super small little toy to play with and try to make my own Roku/Compute Stick/Fire TV/etc etc media streamer. Then see where I can take it from there.

I've been messing with a Raspberry Pi 2 for the same intended purpose myself, although I would rather have picked the ODROID C1+ for the added CPU performance.
It would take you... 2233 continuous hours or 93 days, 1 hour, and 20 minutes of gameplay to complete your Steam library.
In this time you could... Speed run Super Mario Bros (NES) 26,800 times.
 
Flatland_Spider
Graphmaster Gerbil
Posts: 1324
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2004 8:33 pm

Re: Help Picking Dev Board

Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:39 pm

If you really insist, check out SolidRun's CuBox series. It's designed for exactly what you want to do.

https://www.solid-run.com/freescale-imx ... y/cubox-i/
http://cuboxtv.com/

If you want a bare board, there is the Hummingboard which uses the same SoC.
https://www.solid-run.com/freescale-imx ... mingboard/

The prices are higher, but it's a much more advanced piece of hardware.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest