While we have been on Linux Con lot of people came to our table where we had our OLinuXino boards.
One of the most asked question was: What is the difference between OLinuXino and Raspberry Pi?
This is self understandable as Raspberry Pi is the most popular small Linux board and it’s natural people to have heard of it – RPi Foundation with the Broadcom support made sure it’s all over the news, while OLinuXino is still small project.
As we hear this question again and again I though it would be good idea to blog about it so people can read and instead to tell them one and same thing again and again to just refer them to this blog post.
Raspberry Pi Foundation goal is to teach kids programming for this purpose they have created small and low cost Linux board, which helps them to reach their goal. Many people use this small computer for other purposes as well, this is not the best design in the world, nor fastest and the richest in features, but it’s just good enough for RPi foundation to achieve their targets and this is why they do not develop/improve it more since their start.
What they have is one board which they were selling half populated as Model A and completely populated as Model B, then recently they made some small improvements and named the model B+ to name the changes they add some more GPIOs and replaced the linear power supply with DCDC to make it more power efficient, sure they have also module which though is with almost same price like the Model B but having less functionality as complete product, so I guess its not so popular as less usable for most of RPi community.
When we designed our first OLinuXino based on imx233 we wanted to make Linux board which everyone could make even alone at home (the project was inspired by Raspberry Pi, but looking from aside all the troubles they had with deliveries and manufacturing at the beginning we wanted to give option to people to MAKE their own LINUX computer at home).
OLinuXino is Open Source Hardware project so soon after we made our first boards we got lot of feedback, tips and suggestions from our small but efficient community which was formed around OLinuXino, so we continued to experiment and went to less DIY chipsets as our collaborators wanted to see more and more power, so we switch to A13 SoC which is the first TQFP Cortex-A8 processor, then to A10s, A20 Dual Core chips and this process don’t stop even at the moment.
For the last 2 years we made more than 20 different OLinuXino boards with prices from EUR 18 to EUR 65 and with processors from ARM9 to Dual Core Cortex-A7.
Now We have Rockchip RK3188 prepared for production with Quad Core Cortex-A9, in the design pipeline is our first big.LITTLE octa core Cortex-A15/A7 A80 design and probably next year we will have Cortex-A57 64 bit ARM OSHW board.
So let’s start with the major difference:
OLinuXino project is completely Open Source Hardware project, this means everyone can look at our CAD files, see how we have done them, learn, study and modify them for his own need, and even later to manufacture and sell products based on it. For these two years there are hundreds of derivative designs made by individuals and companies, thousands of people learned that to create Linux computer running at 1Ghz is not so difficult!
OSHW business model is more attractive not only for hobby users, who benefit from the knowledge sharing, but also for companies as it gives them INDEPENDANCY. They are FREE to buy from the creator Olimex, or to make the project themself, or if they can’t manufacture to HIRE someone else to make it for them! This secure their business. Even if Olimex decide to stop producing OLinuXino (hypothetically) at one moment of time, this will not hurt them as they have ALTERNATIVES.
If I have company which want to make commercial product I would go with project where everything is UNDER MY CONTROL and this is what OSHW gives to the business.
To get back to the comparison, A10-OLinuXino-LIME selling for EUR 30 is close to Raspberry PI $35 selling price so let’s see what are the similarities and differences:
- both boards run Linux
- have SD-card for boot
- both boards have native HDMI with Full HD for connection to TVs
- two USB hosts, Ethernet
- about same size
- Cortex-A8 1Ghz ARMv7 processor vs. ARM11 ARMv6 obsolete technology makes A10-OLinuXino-LIME to run up to x4 times faster than Raspberry Pi
- OLinuXino can run standard Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch etc as use ARMv7 and is officially supported and have access to the standard repositories and packages for these distributions
- USB hosts can source up to 1A current for the USB devices connected, allowing such devices like USB-3G modems to be connected
- OLinuxino have USB-OTG
- OLinuXino have Native 100Mb Ethernet interface not USB to Ethernet converter like RPi
- OLinuXino have Native SATA and SATA power supply which allow Hard disks to be attached directly!
- OLinuXino have 2
MIPI parallel camera interfaces
- OLinuXino uses power efficient DCDC converters, while RPi uses linear regulators (fixed in Model B+)
- OLinuXino have 160 GPIOs available for the user while RPi have 17
- OLinuXino can drive directly LCDs with parallel and LVDS and touchscreen, while RPi count only on HDMI displays
- OLinuXino have build in Lithium Polymer battery charger and step up converter, so when you attach LiPo battery to OLInuXino it will charge it, and if external power supply is removed the battery power will be used to generate all power voltages includein these for the USB host and SATA, i.e. you can run OLinuXino for hours on single 3.7V LiPo battery.
- OLinuXino can run Android 4.x while PRi have no power to do this
- OLinuXino community is smaller
- OLinuXino LIME can have DUAL-CORE Cortex-A7 A20 SOC which not only increases the speed with 40% but also decreases the power consumption by 30% vs. A10 Cortex-A8 processor
- OLinuXino LIME2 have 1GB RAM memory and Gigabit Ethernet interface.
So overall OLinuXino offers more security for the business, more different products with different features which to match different use cases.