OLinuXino and Raspberry Pi compare


A10-OLinuXino-LIME-1RaspberryPi

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:

Similarities:

  • 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

Differences:

  • 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.

26 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. manuti
    Oct 23, 2014 @ 09:59:42

    Good strike !!!

    Reply

  2. walterleonardo
    Oct 23, 2014 @ 10:49:46

    Hi… you have a linux debian version to run in it?
    WHere I will buy it in Spain?
    You have a box to close it?

    This

    Reply

  3. Canol
    Oct 23, 2014 @ 10:52:12

    Currently, we are using Raspberry Pi as a solution because of these reasons:

    – The community is so large. When you have a problem you can almost be sure that somebody else had it as well, and you can find the solution. This might not be much of an issue if you are an expert but it helps when you are a beginner-like.

    – It has well documented high quality standard peripherals like the camera. Camera is high resolution, has a beautifully written Python package and just works.

    – Raspberry Pi and its peripherals like the camera are being sold everywhere here in Turkey. We couldn’t even find 1 distributor that sells the latest Olimex products (there was one but they only sell a few outdated Olimex products). This makes it easy to prototype, especially for startups like us where time and money constraints are high.

    But we have an eye on OLinuXino because of the reasons counted in the blog post, especially them being open source and the power their processors deliver. And when it comes to consistently delivering updated and supported products with help documents Olimex seems to be the closest competitor to Raspberry Pi Foundation.

    Reply

    • SK
      Oct 23, 2014 @ 14:35:48

      Shipping to Turkey directly from olimex.com is na optin. Currently for LIMEs the lowest price is “AIRMAIL R.O.W. 3.66 EUR 2-5 weeks”. Maybe it may take more time but it’s quite cheap. I am not sure what the real time of shipping is – you may ask Olimex at info@olimex.com if they have some real observations on shipping to Turkey. I guess that shipping to the European part of Turkey should not take that much time.

      Reply

      • Canol
        Oct 24, 2014 @ 08:41:42

        The problem with ordering from abroad is that there is a law in Turkey regarding customs, which demands extra money (a lot of money) if you do orders bigger than 100$ (which means rougly 1 Olimex board and shipping). So I would need to pay hundreds of dollars to order a few Olimex boards directly from Olimex or Farnell or anything like those. I need to import hundred or something of units so that a unit’s price becomes acceptable which is not feasible for prototyping.

      • Lumpi
        Oct 24, 2014 @ 22:38:54

        I can very well understand your feelings…
        Paying sales tax on the shipping fees, paying import brokerage fees to the local post, unfair exchange rates to calculate taxes and import duties… i love switzerland for this😉 a lime like this easily tribles in price or even more…

  4. pspeybro
    Oct 23, 2014 @ 11:47:00

    Small correction regarding displays, For raspberry PI, there are a number of LCDs that use SPI as illustrated here: http://www.seeedstudio.com/blog/2014/10/16/raspberry-pi-power-ups-guide-display/

    Still OLinuXino seems like a much better option🙂

    Reply

  5. Radu - Eosif Mihailescu
    Oct 23, 2014 @ 13:56:44

    Canol> Mouser appears to ship to Turkey and they carry most of the Olimex range😉

    Reply

  6. SK
    Oct 23, 2014 @ 14:30:27

    @walterleonardo, Olimex provides official images of Debian and Android for it’s OlinuXino boards – you can find them in the wiki articles for each board – for example for the A20 dual core LIME (only 3 EUR more than A10 single core): https://www.olimex.com/wiki/A20-OLinuXino-LIME#Official_Images_from_OLIMEX

    Distributors are listed here: https://www.olimex.com/Distributors/
    But they may not carry the latest products. You can order directly from Olimex at olimex.com – postal shipping option to Europe is quite cheap (you select option AIRMAIL EUROPE 1-3 weeks – currently states 3.17 EUR to Spain).

    This is the box that is compatible with all LIMEs so far (A10-LIME, A20-LIME, and A20-LIME2): https://www.olimex.com/Products/OLinuXino/A10/A10-OLinuXino-LIME-BOX/

    Reply

  7. Pete
    Oct 23, 2014 @ 15:14:03

    From what I have seen of the RPi community – having 2 Pis myself, a large proportion of people want to know the answer to two basic questions:

    – how well will it run XBMC (and where can I download it from, fully set up and configured)?
    – where’s the Python code to flash an LED?

    With those points fully documented, you have the gateway to the vast majority of PRi users.

    Reply

    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Oct 23, 2014 @ 16:17:07

      1. franky I have no idea for XBMC never have been interested to watch video on this board🙂 I know Stefan Sariev is working to run OpenElec on A20-MICRO but not sure for his progress, I sent him board long time ago but didn’t bother him, he may be complete or not have to check
      By saying that Raspberry Pi community is only interested in XBMC are you saying that the community do not use these board for programming but just for entertaining😉 ?

      2. Python code for flashing LED is on the WIKI for every OLinuXino board

      Reply

      • Pete
        Oct 23, 2014 @ 20:39:34

        Well, I wouldn’t generalise anything as much as “all” or “only”. But it does seem that of the people I know who bought a Pi and have NOT simply had a brief play an then consigned it to the bottom of a drawer, there are a lot who only bought it to run XBMC. Which is kinda odd, as there are (now) much better platforms for running XBMC. I guess they like the “I built this, myself” feeling.
        For the XBMC-ers who I know, most seem moderately techy, but not interested in using the hardware to control anything. They view it just as a cheap computer with one single use.

        Personally, I don’t know of any RPi user who has _become_ interested in electronics after using a Pi. The ones who do hack it were hacking other things before the Pi. So it’s more of a transference (to the Pi) than increasing the number of people hacking hardware. The thing that seems to attract them is as Canol says: the large base of software examples and the ease of finding answers to problems.

        But that’s only my limited personal experience from the people I know. It could be that some schoolchildren do use a Pi and do become interested (and who wouldn’t have got into electronics by some other route). It’s just that I don’t know any of them.

  8. xxiao
    Oct 23, 2014 @ 16:07:31

    Two questions:
    – Do A20 support MIPI cameras? I thought it’s a parallel interface only?
    – The design files are good for reference but will KiCAD be usable one day for this project?

    Reply

    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Oct 23, 2014 @ 16:13:18

      1. you are right about MIPI I was confused with A31 we work on now🙂 will edit the post

      2. I hope so, on OSHW summit I spoke to KiCAD maintainer/developer and we prepare wishlist for KiCAD features our developers missing when try to use it

      Reply

  9. Dim4ev
    Oct 23, 2014 @ 16:27:53

    Good comparition, but RPi is educational product, while OlinuXino is for hackers.
    It will be good also to compare Olimex euro 18 product with “RPi A”.

    Reply

  10. Customer
    Oct 23, 2014 @ 17:07:04

    @OLIMEX Ltd
    Would it be possible for you to update your products on amazon?
    For example I can only find the LIME single core and not the dual core.
    Thanks.

    Reply

  11. Mattias
    Oct 23, 2014 @ 23:40:29

    I think that depending on what people want to use their computer for, and their level of knowledge, a lot of the instructions for the Raspberry Pi can be applied to the Olimex boards. I have two RPi’s, one is a camera set-up and one is for ‘everyone’s’ favorite use, an XBMC computer🙂 I don’t really use them much, but after I got my A10 LIME board I have gotten stuck in to Linux properly. I now have my own domain and I am running an ownCloud instance on it, and I am in the process of setting up a mail server. A lot of the instructions for the setup actually came from RPi resources. So the vast amount of RPi information out there can be quite easily used for the Olinuxino boards as well.
    Personally as a beginner, I have found very good instructions here as well. Using instructions in the Olimex blogs I compiled my own Debian system for my server, something I wouldn’t have dreamt of doing only a few months ago.
    Between the vast amount of Debian resources out there, and the RPi community resources, I think most things will be achievable🙂
    The one area where I feel (I haven’t researched this…) the RPi community is much stronger is on the hardware interfacing side of things (think robots, automation, measuring etc.). That said with these resources, https://olimex.wordpress.com/tag/python/, and the vast amount of RPi projects available in Python, I am sure that the RPi community knowledge can be largely applied to the Olinuxino boards, and with people documenting what they do, I am sure there will be no reason not to use the more powerful Olinuxino boards for any project🙂. (I used to be an RPi fan, but I am now an Olinuxino fan)

    Reply

  12. tissit
    Oct 24, 2014 @ 21:12:50

    Another difference, I can buy an rpi at the corner store😉

    Reply

  13. yoannq
    Oct 26, 2014 @ 11:27:22

    Reblogged this on Yoann's Blog and commented:
    RPi / Olinuxino comparison, i agree this point of view, the Olinuxino card are better for complex dev and more powerfull (more IO)

    Reply

  14. DW
    Oct 26, 2014 @ 16:34:08

    @Olimex: You mention in the article that you have the RK3188 board ready for production. In the context of OSHW, this might not be the best place to put that, since from what it seemed earlier, you only have a SOM, that you decided not to make OSHW, so once you stop selling this, people won’t have alternatives (besides designing a new SOM on their own). It would at least make sense to assure customers to make some (any?) product you sell OSHW once you stop selling it, if that product didn’t start as OSHW.

    Reply

  15. Pete
    Oct 27, 2014 @ 16:38:30

    We hear that over the weekend (Oct 25) at MozFest 2014 in London Mozilla demonstrated Firefox OS running on a Pi. [ courtesy of a report in The Register ]
    Has there been any interest in porting it to an OSHW A20 board?

    Reply

  16. Volker Hett
    Oct 27, 2014 @ 17:00:10

    I use RPis for digital signage with omxplayer on 24″ touchscreen monitors and with XBMC in a “cinema” which is a room in our exhibition with a HD-Ready beamer.
    I tried the A20-Olinuxino-Micro for a 55″ touchscreen but switched to an Intel NUC with i3 CPU because I had to put everything on the computer, my original approach was a server with wordpress and SBCs for the screens in our exhibition.

    The RPi is slow but beats Allwinner when you need to play videos, in this regard I’m totally disappointed with Radxa Rock and promised myself to never ever touch a Rockchip based SBC again🙂

    Another pet of mine is the RPi Camera, it just rocks!

    This side from digital signage and my “delivery guy does not ring early warning surveillance camera” I really like the A20 Olinuxinos and have two Micros in my home and office and will try a Lime2 as soon as I get my hands on one.

    P.S.: I haven’t looked lately, do I get it right, there is a current Ubuntu hopefully with Kernel newer than 3.04?

    Reply

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