Does the Dog eat the pie?


Electronic Design magazine had interesting interview few days ago with Jason Krinder about BeagleBone Black. The new $45 ARM board backed by the TI heavy marketing artillery.

According to Krinder they are selling now over thousand per day.

There is big silence in RPi corner since BBB release, there are no new bombastic announcements for round numbers in sales anymore, so does this means BBB ate the RPi sales? We are about to see by the end of the year.

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David Ross
    Jul 12, 2013 @ 16:36:46

    even at that rate and using the last numbers that the raspberry pi foundation mentioned around the beginning of june it would take the BBB over 4 years to catch up with raspberry pi numbers. personally though i don’t think they are even really in competition with each other. they both have their pros and cons and people should use whatever is better for their needs. you have to remember though that the raspberry pi is more than the hardware and they don’t “cheat” by being a skunkworks project to falsely lower the price of the hardware to try to squash the competition like TI does


  2. Morgaine
    Jul 12, 2013 @ 19:39:39

    David Ross writes:

    > “raspberry pi is more than the hardware and they don’t “cheat” by being a skunkworks project to falsely lower the price of the hardware to try to squash the competition like TI does”

    So TI’s assistance to is “cheating”, whereas Broadcom’s assistance to Raspberry Pi Foundation is not, right? Careful, your bias is showing, better tuck it in before it trips you.


    • David Ross
      Jul 12, 2013 @ 20:02:48

      oopsy Morgaine your bias is showing too. You are a known anti-raspberry pi troll of long standing. I seem to remember you were taken down a peg or two on the E14 forums so much so that in fact you seemed to disappear for several months to lick your wounds.

      While Broadcom engineers may work on the raspberry pi in their own time the only financial support Broadcom has given the raspberry Pi foundation is standard wholesale price that all customers get at smaller volumes than would be normally required although that is pretty much a moot point. TI on the other hand is subsidising the BBB so that it falls within the <= $45 price range, if it was being sold at true cost the silicon alone would be at least that.


      • Drew Fustini (@pdp7)
        Jul 13, 2013 @ 04:46:24

        According to the FAQ, there is no subsidy:

        “We removed some expensive components, added a few low cost components, purchased in lots of 100K instead of 2K (MAJOR cost reduction),
        automated the testing (MAJOR cost reduction), and upgraded the manufacturing process with automated assembly techniques removing a lot of manual labor. And as usual, all
        parts are bought through distribution. There is no subsidy on the board by anyone. Everyone makes a few bucks, except We don’t take money out of the community.”

        Gerald Coley (gerald _ would be good person to contact for further details.

  3. Morgaine
    Jul 13, 2013 @ 02:07:44

    Oooh, nasty, your first post above was blatantly biased by willfully ignoring the help that Broadcom has given and continues to give RPF, and when I pointed that out, you now bring in ad hominem attacks to hide your ill-founded statements here. Nice try. 😛

    As it happens, I think all boards have their place, you just have to look where each one is better and choose accordingly.

    Pi used to be the only board around in its price niche so it had the whole place to itself, but now that BeagleBone Black is in the same price niche the two have to be compared on merit. So how do the two boards compare on merit?

    BBB’s CPU is better than Pi’s (Cortex-A8 vs ARM11), BBB is better on hardware interfacing (vastly more GPIOs etc than Pi) and on expandability (capes versus a very limited P1 header) and on realtime capability (two PRUs vs nothing), and in USB handling (normal USB operation vs a broken USB controller) and in out-of-the-box experience for newbies (on-board eMMC boots immediately vs separate card needed).

    This leaves Pi with only one area in which it is better: as a media centre, which is no surprise really because the BCM2835 is essentially one huge GPU+DSP for media handling with a little old ARM11 tacked on the side. So, that’s where Pi still excels. In all other respects, BBB is the superior card. It’s nothing to feel hurt about. New products leap-frog previous products like that all the time.

    Pretty soon, some other company will upstage BBB in the same way that BBB has upstaged Pi, and those of us who are engineers and not fanbois will accept this and make it clear how BBB has lost some benefits. Fanbois in contrast will instead accuse the new competitor of “cheating”, because it’s yet another board that has upstaged their precious. It’s funny.

    Anyway, you haven’t even bothered to do your research on pricing and are quoting fantasy. Try looking up TI’s statements about AM335x volume pricing, and you’ll see why you shouldn’t repeat other people’s comments without verifying them first. It’s been stated many times that everyone in the BBB manufacturing chain makes a few bucks, and there is even a breakdown of how they cut back on the original BeagleBone to bring the BBB’s price down. The info is all there if you cared to look.

    Olimex’s A20-OLinuXino seems likely to become the best low-cost board soon. I wonder, are you going to accuse Olimex of “cheating” because it rivals the Pi as a media centre and Allwinner has given them a good price on A20? I look forward to your comedy. Meanwhile, I’ll just focus on the engineering specs, and when one board is better than another, I’ll say so. I recommend that approach to you too. Fanboism has no place in engineering.


  4. Justin
    Jul 13, 2013 @ 03:57:43

    Blarg, I get so tired of seeing you pop up on Pi articles, make some pot-shot lie about Broadcom’s present day involvement with the Raspberry Pi and then claiming some argument technique about the other person. I don’t think I can go 5 posts on any forum you’re in without seeing the phrase “false analogy” “strawman” or “Ad hominem”. I definitely can’t go 5 without you attacking the people who make the pi. Can someone say “bitter troll?”


  5. Morgaine
    Jul 13, 2013 @ 11:56:06

    You can say anything you like, but you’d be factually incorrect. I’m an engineer who states things as they are and is not a fanboi of any product nor company, which is why I warmly welcome the continual leap-frogging of one manufacturer over another.

    Olimex’s blog post suggested that the better feature set of BBB seems to have taken the wind out of Raspberry Pi. Well, comparisons on the RPF forum certainly dried up fast once it became clear that BBB was better in many areas that are relevant to training budding engineers, which was a key goal for Pi. That said, as I pointed out above, Pi has one feature remaining where it continues to be unrivaled, namely media handling, so it’s still better for media consumers. I’m happy to point out the engineering advantages of any board, regardless of the board or SoC manufacturer.

    The march of technology will put an end to that remaining advantage before long though, it is quite inevitable. Only fanbois seem unable to handle that totally normal occurrence because they’re emotionally attached to a product or company and not able to be objective. If the aim is to create a new generation of engineers, it’s important to leave fanboism aside and deal with engineering issues objectively.

    Olimex’s forthcoming A20-OLinuXino is by its specs expected to be better than BBB in several important features as well as providing the top-end media handling which is Pi’s only remaining claim to fame. I welcome that, because it is only by improving on what went before that the state of the art moves forward and everybody gains.

    To recap, Olimex’s observation about BBB eating Pi’s lunch is strongly supported by examining the two board specs which are almost entirely to BBB’s advantage, and you can see Drew Fustini’s comment above for information about how BBB met its target price through effective engineering choices.

    If you have anything useful to say about this, please address the engineering topic of the comparative specs because those are nicely objective, instead of attacking the messenger to avoid addressing the topic. Fanboi responses have no place in engineering discussion.


  6. Michael Horne
    Jul 14, 2013 @ 01:31:49

    I have never seen the word “fanbois” used so many times… Let’s all take a breath, shall we?


  7. JamesH
    Jul 14, 2013 @ 22:44:49

    Just because I can, thought I would mention that according to the last figures I was made privy to, the Raspi sales figures have not dropped since the BBB was launched and went on sale. It’s still selling in a day many more than the BB is selling in a week. Which is actually quite surprising, since the BBB does have a faster ARM, that’s obvious, but its media facilities are woeful. What it doesn’t have is the large support community or the general attention that the Raspi has gained (without it should be noted, actually spending very much on advertising – it’s all very viral).

    So the BBB is not ‘eating the Rapsi’s’ lunch. Far from it. Lack of press releases does not imply lack of sales.

    Also, as a Broadcom employee I can categorically say that they give no financial assistance to the RPF barring some employee time (and not a lot of that, two or three blokes, part time). I have no idea where this conspiracy theory came from (hey, it’s the internet), but its is blatantly incorrect.


  8. Peter Green
    Jul 15, 2013 @ 01:11:21

    People have already listed advantages of the BBB, now for the disadvantages

    1: While the ethernet is better in theory it seems in my experiance (which is admittedly a month or so old now so things may have been fixed in the interim) it has been tempramental. It comes up fine on boot but it seems to have problems being brought up later (including when it’s brought up in the debian installer which makes getting debian on the thing a lot more painful than it should be).
    2: The community seems to be focused arround angstrom. Personally if the board has the resources to do it (as both the Pi and BBB do) i’d much rather be running a regular distro like debian than an embedded one like angstrom.
    3: When you look more carefully at the IO you discover that a lot of the IO pins on the BBB conflict with the new EMMC and HDMI framer.
    4: it’s more expensive though this is partially offset in some applications by the onboard EMMC boot media.
    5: According to the documentation. the HDMI output on the BBB is limited to 1280×1024 or 1440×900 which is insufficient to drive many modern monitors at their native resoloutions and while the hardware supports audio over HDMI the software apparently doesn’t yet.


  9. Murray
    Jul 15, 2013 @ 02:20:17

    Morgaine is well known for making personal, anti Raspberry Pi attacks on the Element 14 forum some time ago (including spiteful attacks based purely on on looks, dress sense and personality — bullying, basically) and encouraging others to do the same (and then abusing his position there to have any replies he didn’t care for disappeared). Coming back after his breakdown nothing seems to have changed.

    Yes, Morgaine is objectivity personified.


  10. Max
    Jul 15, 2013 @ 10:39:20

    Attack his attitude all you want, but Morgaine does have some valid points – and personally, I find his tone more civilized than that of many of his critics. And yes, when people call you a troll in their first paragraph it’s called an “ad-hominem” (a gold standard of actual trolls) and its use for simply voicing a differing opinion is called “fanboism”, whether you like that term or not. As such, the next (in)appropriate move would be to accuse me of being his sockpuppet merely because I happen to agree with him. By all means, do go ahead…

    Personally, I haven’t used either board, but I did definitely keep an eye on both – since back when Pi was only an announced project. The only special thing (in a positive sense) going for it is its low price point – and the apparent determination of the Pi crew to push it as an educational tool and the buzz they managed to generate around it (much in the way the popularity of Arduino has nothing to do with any extraordinary feat of engineering of the boards themselves, which are basically breakout boards for the Atmel MCU with an LDO, an xtal and a serial adapter). On technical merit alone, the Pi is nothing to write home about – neither as a SoC nor as a PCB – and it actually does have some faults some of which have been noted above. By now there are better (and more hackable) options than the Pi for practically any intended application – and there’s actually a good chance one of the best places to pick some of it up is right here, from Olimex…


    • Justin
      Jul 15, 2013 @ 19:31:47

      Actually, he called Mor a troll in his second post and did so in response to Mor first attacking him and claiming him to be biased without actually providing an corroborating evidence. Conversely, it is a well known fact that Mor is a troll. And I’m not just talking about the fact that he got kicked off the RPF forums for attacking them one too many times after they didn’t bow to his wisdom on how they should be running their company. A quick google search on the guy returns results like this

      The guys a troll, regardless of factual information he sometimes provides, he uses it to try and support his anti-pi agenda rather than letting actual facts speak for themselvess.


      • Morgaine
        Jul 15, 2013 @ 21:33:51

        Justin: Please get your facts in order before trying to make an argument out of them.

        David Ross made a severely biased statement in the opening comment, calling TI’s support of “cheating” despite the widely known fact that Broadcom helped RPF in the early days and now continues to provide developer resource. The situations are not identical, but they’re similar enough that calling one “cheating” and the other not represents very obvious bias. There’s nothing particularly wrong with such help. Companies help outfits who make them look good, why shouldn’t they? But trying to make an issue out of it for one company alone was clearly not being even handed.

        I accused David of bias, which it clearly was, and I provided the reason right there in that first reply, the fact that Broadcom also provided assistance. End of story, or it should have been the end once he’d seen the symmetry and the silliness of calling it “cheating”. I suspect he simply wasn’t aware of Broadcom’s involvement at the start and continued involvement in development now, which JamesH confirmed above. No problem, maybe he learned something new from the exchange.

        That should have been the end of it, but he came out with all fanboi guns blazing and taking ad hominem attacks to new heights of absurdity. At least Drew Fustini put him straight on his unfounded allegations about TI, and I’ve tried to steer the topic back to technology before Olimex explodes and am glad to see that it’s catching on. Stick to tech, it’s much more interesting, and after all that’s why we’re here on this site.

      • Justin
        Jul 15, 2013 @ 22:05:53

        No, he made a biased statement in your opinion based off a slew of half baked assumptions you listed above. Moreover, you’re continuing to push this idea that engineers volunteering time to help out on the Pi equates to direct broadcom support (dare I say you imply financial support?). You’ve been pushing this idea for a year over on e14 and while you have enough support over there to bully away posts that call you out on it, you lack that off their site. Just do everyone a favor and stop trying to poison the pi community like some jilted ex-lover.

  11. JamesH
    Jul 15, 2013 @ 12:10:10

    I did try to post some information here yesterday, but it seems to have failed moderation. I’ll try again.

    My information is that Raspi sales have not noticeably suffered since the launch of the BBB. It’s still selling considerably more than the BBB (if the thousand per day figure above is correct). The BBB is NOT eating the Raspi’s lunch according to the figures.

    I work for Broadcom, and know that they do NOT subsidise any part of the Raspi project, except with a small amount of engineer time. (2-3 engineers part time) i.e. No money flows from Broadcom to the Raspi Foundation. The Brcm2835 is also NOT subsidised – Broadcom make money on each chip sale.


  12. Morgaine
    Jul 15, 2013 @ 13:34:29

    I would like to highlight the very on-topic, polite and reasoned response made by JamesH [July 14, 2013 at 22:44] above. That’s a very good example of an engineering answer on this technical topic (plus some marketing).

    I tend to agree with what you wrote, JamesH. There are many factors contributing to the success of Pi, as a result of which it’s largely immunized from better boards appearing. In addition to that, CircuitCo seems not to have the production capacity of Pi’s Sony plant, so even if everything else were equal, BBBs sales can’t rival those of Pi on production grounds, at least for now. I suspect this won’t change.

    As things stand, it’s quite likely that only those who want a faster ARM or non-USB networking or who need a greatly expanded interfacing capability are buying the BBB in preference to Pi. And as you point out, it provides no interest to the many people who enjoy Pi for its media capabilities.

    To the others who responded with nothing but the fanboism I described in previous posts, please learn from JamesH. That’s how a sound defense is done. It’s the only kind of response that has merit in a technical discussion.


  13. Morgaine
    Jul 15, 2013 @ 15:29:05

    Peter Green provided a good list of issues that may be relevant to prospective users of BBB. I especially agree with his point 2), use of Angstrom as the default BBB O/S. This is the source of considerable woes for beginners and considerable extra effort for Linux experts as well. For example, one continually has to port packages to Angstrom because its maintainer has a narrow view of what needs to be directly available for installing. Thousands of users having to do their own distro maintenance in parallel is very poor use of one’s time, and it’s inefficient. That’s what an O/S maintainer should be doing.

    Using a more standard and well-known distro like Debian would have addressed those problems easily and effectively. From my personal experience, Pi’s Raspbian is considerably more effective than Angstrom as a host O/S. The fact that a lot of BBB users choose to run Debian or Ubuntu on BBB’s microSD card suggests that the above is a widely held view.

    On the bright side, the niggles that were evident in BBB’s first weeks (eg. networking issues) seem to be in Angstrom alone and nowhere else, and even the initial HDMI resolution limitations seem to have been partly overcome now with improved software. This does not make BBB into a media board, Pi still reigns supreme for that, but high resolution is still useful for highly detailed desktops and UIs without media, which seems to be BBB’s target area for graphics.

    In summary, I agree. Some of those BBB limitations are disappearing as the software improves, and moving away from the default Angstrom O/S solves a lot of problems at a stroke.


  14. Ros Wilson
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 07:33:35

    Is there anyone in this discussion that isn’t either a mod or someone who’s been banned at the RasPi forum? Hilarious! Let’s call it the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.


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