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Raspberry Pi alternatives emerge to fill need for speed

Agam Shah | April 24, 2014
Raspberry Pi isn't planning a hardware upgrade of its popular US$25 computer anytime soon, but faster options are emerging for users attracted to such board-like devices.

"If people can get more performance at the same price, they'll go for it," McCarron said.

The extra performance headroom could make the board a better desktop supplement, and allow applications like video to run more "spectacularly," McCarron said. It could also be a better platform for Android applications.

The Banana Pi has an Allwinner A20 ARM Cortex-A7 dual-core processor, a Mali 400 graphics core, 1GB of DDR3 RAM, an SD card slot, two USB 2.0 slots and Ethernet. Other features include a SATA slot (for up to 2TB of storage), an infrared receiver, red and green LEDs, and 3.5-millimeter audio out ports. It also has UART, GPIO and I2C bus connectors. The board is powered through a micro-USB slot. It supports the Ubuntu Linux and Debian Linux OSes, and also Android 4.4, code-named KitKat.

The HummingBoard has an even faster processor — the Freescale quad-core i.MX6 Cortex-A9 — as well as a high-definition graphics core, HDMI output, Ethernet and two USB 2.0 ports. Other components include a mini PCI-Express and mSATA connector. In also includes a MIPI CSI connector and 26-pin connector.

The Pi has already spawned the development of monitors, cameras, cases, software tools and expansion boards to improve the usability of the computer. APlus Mobile wants to expand the usability of Raspberry Pi to control systems for homes, automobiles and devices through an expansion board called MotherBone PiOne. The expansion board has the pins, power relays, ports and firmware features that could make Raspberry Pi relevant to larger electronics.

APlus Mobile has taken to Kickstarter to raise funds for development of the MotherBone PiOne, which is expected to be priced between $200 and $250. If APlus fails to crowdsource the funds, the product will still go on sale, said Amy Ciesielka, owner of APlus Mobile, in an email.

 

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