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Battle of the Pi: Banana vs Raspberry

13 May 2014  | Cabe Atwell

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Single-board computers abound in the market, but Raspberry Pi remains the most popular. So it is not surprising to see imitations of this product. However, one seems to bring a good competition to the popular computer. Developers, meet Banana Pi.

Banana Pi is an exact replica of Raspberry Pi, except that it offers more memory and a faster processor—all for $57. Banana Pi features a 1GHz Allwinner A20 dual-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor and 1GB of RAM. The card 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, two 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 26pin header.

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.

 Banana Pi

Figure 1: Banana Pi. (Source: RasPi.TV)

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.

 Raspberry Pi

Figure 2: Raspberry Pi. (Source: RasPi.TV)

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 operating systems, 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 who 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.

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