There were many complete computers built on a single circuit board before and after the Raspberry Pi. A cheap price, low power usage, a large community and ease of use make it a very good buy for the do-it-yourself generation of makers.
Now, there are choices for makers who want more processing power and more options – Banana PI from Le Maker.
In this article, I have no intention to go straight to the Banana Pi specifications and make a fruit salad with its powerful processor and connections. This article is more as a commentary beside Banana Pi and its existence in a world dominated by Raspberry Pi. It’s about the distinctions and how to fill holes. It is about two sweet single board computers: Banana Pi ($49.99) and Raspberry Pi ($45.95).
Some consider Banana Pi an evolution of Raspberry Pi while others see it as a clone of Pi with improved performance. The BPi has a layout very similar to the RPi and it’s with 10% larger due to a great variety of connectors.
Speaking in general terms, for makers and hackers who need more Mhz, a good amount of RAM, better networking, and more stable power, Banana Pi is better than Raspberry Pi. But, even so, the Pi board failed at the community test. It does not have enough support from a community of users and developers, and this is probably the biggest problem with this board.
All these aspects and many more will be explored further in this article. Keeping this in view, I promise that I would not complain if you leave your positive or negative opinion in the comment section and share this article with your friends.
Let’s get to work and understand what is Banana Pi and the plans of expansion of the DIY district.
Banana Pi is an open-source hardware and software tool engineered for those who want to play in a garage with electronics, robots, and automation. At the same time, all these makers want to use a prototype board with Linux or Android operating systems. In general, the BPi is a board powerful enough to take the control of the world, the control of the personal world.
Banana Pi has enough resources to run a full version of Ubuntu, Debian, Raspberry Pi Image, or Android. A powerful Allwinner A20 dual-core processor at 1GHz and 1GB DDR3 DRAM take this job of running the most dominant operating systems in the makers community.
The aim of Banana Pi is to be a starting point to design and build new prototypes and software. For this reason, many more prototyping boards are trying to take a part of the Raspberry Pi, and most of these are failing miserably.
If anyone tries to make a real Raspberry Pi alternative, it has to be perfectly designed for additional ports, features, and all tolerances matched. The Allwinner CPU is great, more RAM memory than RPi, more connections, but higher numbers cannot equal better specifications. Would you say yes, probably yes, probably no, or no?
Let see what Banana Pi can do and what the Raspberry Pi can’t do.
The Banana Pi Advantages
The Banana Pi does not impress me much with its name and probably it is not a surprise to anyone accustomed to the Raspberry Pi name.
The Banana Pi impresses me with its processor, with more RAM memory than RPi, SATA and LVDS connector, and the ARMv7 architecture.
The SATA interface
The SATA interface is a killer feature, and most users can find it very useful.
The ARMv7 acrchitecture
The Raspberry Pi runs under the ARMv6, which is a great architecture that can do a lot of things. And because the Banana Pi uses the ARMv7 architecture, this minicomputer is much more compatible with applications like Skype than any other single board computer.
A lot of accessories
Yes, a lot of accessories but not from Banana Pi. How? This is easy. The engineers behind the BPi project design the connectors based on the Raspberry Pi’s connector layout. This is a shortcut to a wide range of accessories that allows the makers to move the RPi parts and modules to Banana Pi without any inconvenience.
A power button
The power button is not a very important feature, but the BPi has one.
Disperse the heat
If you’re looking with attention to the Banana Pi board, you can see a very interesting detail – the location of the processor. Almost all the single board computers have exposed on the same side all the components. This is not the case of BPi. The heat is better dispersed in the atmosphere with the processor located on the back side of the board.
The Banana Pi Disadvantages
The Banana Pi has a big disadvantage in front of Raspberry Pi: the community. Without a large community, the BPi can be a big fail because the community support for a prototyping tool makes the difference.
One of the biggest reasons why Raspberry Pi is so successfully is due to its large community. When someone put a question, it has an answer. The Banana Pi does not have any of that.
Probably is too soon to take a conclusion about the success or the failed of this single board computer. The new versions of Raspberry Pi, the model B+ and Pi 2 Model B, are going to put an obstacle in the path of newest prototyping tools. But even so, Banana Pi can be an alternative to RPi for everyone interested in more Mhz and more RAM memory.