Lately we've bought some BeagleBone Black computers for hardware diagnostics. The BeagleBoard is a low-power open-source hardware single-board computer produced by Texas Instruments in association with Digi-Key and Newark element14. While the older variants of of the BeagleBoard have been too big or expensive, the BeagleBone Black is a real competition for the Raspberry Pi.
It is superior in computing power (ARMv7 vs ARMv6 instruction set, 1GHz vs 700MHz frequency), has the same memory (512 MB) and about the same power consumption (2.5(1.0)W). What makes the BeagleBone so special compared to the Raspberry Pi? There are two reasons:
- The BeagleBone offers a lot more IO slots, e.g. I2C, UART, many GPIO, ...
- The board is build upon open hardware principles, which makes it very developer friendly
Of course there are reasons to favor a Raspberry Pi over a BeagleBone Black. The Raspberry Pi has been build with graphics in mind, which is why the Raspberry has the better video (and audio) capabilities.
If you are only interested in embedded, low powered, computation power, then the BeagleBone Black is definitely the superior choice. It also comes pre-configured with a working OS image and a µUSB cable. This way you get a head start, which allows you to focus on working with the device, instead of of setting up the device.
A rather cool project would be do create a BBB cluster, as the 33 nodes Raspberry Pi created by Joshua Kiepert. It would be less expensive, more powerful and as it would probably feature roughly the same power consumption, it would be more efficient (in MFLOPS/W).
Buying a Raspberry Pi or a BeagleBone One way to buy any of the discussed devices is by using the shop from Farnell electronics. They have a huge variety of boards and accessories. Two links are given in the references.