Banana Pi: The next generation of single-board computers?

Banana Pi: The next generation of single-board computers?

Summary: Raspberry Pi has a competitor, Banana Pi which is a new single-board computer that is powered by a much faster processor and more RAM.

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The maker community loves the Raspberry Pi Single Board Computer (SBC). But, the $35 Raspberry Pi, which was introduced in 2012, with its 700MHz ARM11 processor and 512MBs of RAM, is looking a little dowdy these days. So, Lemaker.org has introduced the faster Banana Pi.

BananaPi
Banana Pi

Before launching into the technical details, you should know that the Banana Pi is not, in way, shape, or form, an official successor to the Raspberry Pi. It's a Raspberry Pi clone from a Chinese educational group. That said, with its 24-pin header layout, the Banana Pi is designed to be mechanically and electrically compatible with Raspberry Pi add-on modules.

This new credit-card sized SBC costs just over $74 after shipping. That's a good deal more than the $35 Raspberry Pi Model B it takes after. On the other hand, Banana Pi comes with a dual-core, Cortex-A7-based Allwinner A20 system-on-chip running at 1GHz,. That's much faster than the Raspberry Pi’s 700MHz, ARM11-based Broadcom BCM2835 processor. It also includes a more powerful Mali-400 GPU.

The Banana Pi also comes with 1GB of RAM and built-in Ethernet that can handle up to 1Gbps (Gigabit per second). That's ten-times as fast as the Raspberry Pi. This brand-new SBC also includes a SATA port and a micro-USB port. It's also, at 92 x 60mm, a trifle larger than the 85 x 56mm Raspberry Pi.

In theory, the Banana Pi should run all of the software that Raspberry Pi can run In practice, Lemaker only states that their SBC can run Android 4.4, Ubuntu, Debian, Raspberry Pi Image, and the Cubieboard Image. On top of the operating system, the only application the group claims that it will run is Scratch, an educational program from MIT.

This is a very new product from a little-known group, so it's hard to say if will prove just a flash in the pan or a long-term project. The group does have what appears to be a useful quick start guide and active online forums. So, if you want to try your hand at mini-computing with a more powerful system than the Raspberry Pi, I think it's both supported and cheap enough to give it a try. Enjoy!

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Topics: Hardware, Linux, Open Source

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27 comments
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  • My Raspberry Pi

    This looks like it could be fun. My 256 MB arrived on my doorstep the minute that they announced the 512 MB model.
    As underpowered as it is I can use to create documents in Latex. Which is kinda neat.
    JohneKerr
  • My Raspberry Pi

    This looks like it could be fun. My 256 MB arrived on my doorstep the minute that they announced the 512 MB model.
    As underpowered as it is I can use to create documents in Latex. Which is kinda neat.
    JohneKerr
    • Banana Pi

      This is Dual-core 1GB A20 allwinner development board,runs on Linux,Debian,Ubuntu,Andriod.fully compatible with Raspberry Pi,Cubieboard.
      jolin66
  • It should be called Cherry Pi

    That way a person could cleverly mass-advertise it using the classic rock song of the same name.
    Richard Estes
  • A Few Problems Here...

    First, what does "That's a good deal than the $35 Raspberry Pi" mean? If this device costs $74, I think that should be "a good deal MORE than...".

    Second, "also includes a SATA port and a micro-USB port"? That's a "micro USB port FOR POWER". The Raspberry Pi has one of those too. I'ts how you get power to it.

    Third, no applications other than Scratch? None?

    Fourth, no feedback to the community, no educational value added, no XBMC, no, uh... never mind.

    I looked at this, and within a few minutes it didn't leave any doubt in my mind whether it was going to be a "flash in the pan" or not. It will be, and not a very big flash, at that.

    jw
    j.a.watson1
    • No Problems Here...

      It's more like 50$
      Allwinner A20 has OTG on microUSB. So it's basically another fully functional USB port.
      What do you mean other than scratch? Debian and Android has plenty of apps. Also most Cubieboard2 apps should run fine.
      Xmister
      • Edits

        Many writers on ZDNet when blatant mistakes are in their articles fix them right away. They do that because we point it out and the author reads the Talkback for at least a little bit to pick up the worst errors and care a little bit about their readers. I have notice that SVN just throws the stuff out there and never fixes any thing. I guess that means...

        The error I am referring to is the one j.a.watson pointed out as the very first item in his post. Why is it to much to ask a writer or ZDNet to fix mistakes like this? Where is the quality control?
        MichaelInMA
        • Fixed

          I contacted him directly and it was fixed the most blatant problem that j.a.waston identified.
          MichaelInMA
    • What's do you mean...

      ...no feedback from the community? "active online forums" sounds like it to me.
      PreachJohn
    • hmm

      just seems better than Raspberry Pi in every way.
      Jimster480
      • 'better'

        Hi :)
        it does look good but i wouldn't say "better".

        The Raspberry Pi has infrastructure and is more widely known and gaining momentum and it's a whole lot cheaper.

        This new one might gain some of those advantages in time but isn't there yet and the price is unlikely to get much better.

        I never understand this obsession with 'better' when 2 products are similar but offer different advantages. It's like asking which flavour of ice-cream is 'better'.

        If i had 2 kids i would probably buy 2 Raspberry Pis rather than 1 of these otherwise i'd be in deep trouble. Also the Pi is within easier reach of loose change for more people. This one might be 'better' in some ways but it gives more people more cause to pause before buying.
        Regards from
        Tom :)
        Tom6
  • Needs a GPU driver to be a hit

    If someone can create a " Raspberry Pi Image" but with the Mali driver then I would definitely buy one.
    frank0-3f91e
  • Super Pi for $50

    Quad core Tegra 3 with 12 core GPU, 1gb RAM, 32gb EMMC storage, micro SD slot, USB, wifi, bluetooth, built in uninteruptible power supply that can allow it to run for 9 hours during a blackout, dual camera, GPS receiver, HDMI out.
    Also known as Android tablet/phone with broken screen.
    I've bought quite a few in this price range. My favourite is the Asus TF201 & TF300. If you need 3G/4G, get something like a HTC One X or Galaxy S3 with busted screen.
    Using LinuxOnAndroid, Ubuntu 13.1, multitasking with Android apps.
    Bang for buck, it blows Raspberry into the weeds.
    Except for educational purposes, the Raspberry concept is not good value with cheap broken ARM devices on the market. It was good value when the Xoom was $700 and the cheapest Android garbage was $300, but not today.
    warboat
    • thats true

      you can buy an entire A8 based tablet for around $35 these days... that gives you a screen, battery and other things too! Aswell as an array of ports.
      Jimster480
  • Video

    Video is spelled video.

    Smart idea there Warboat.
    MoeFugger
  • This Pi clone is also fully compatible with the new MotherBone PiOne

    The MotherBone PiOne super I/O motherboard (on kickstarter right now) also works with all pin compatible Pi clones as long as they have a pin compatible header. Check it out! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/532391021/motherbonetmpionetm
    Timothy Comments
  • If it's a clone, how can it be "the next generation"

    "Before launching into the technical details, you should know that the Banana Pi is not, in way, shape, or form, an official successor to the Raspberry Pi. It's a Raspberry Pi clone from a Chinese educational group."
    HypnoToad72
    • Coulda chosen a better word

      Right, clone wasn't a good choice. He should have said "pin compatible, souped up competitor."
      kenaaa2
  • I'd be interested in a little Android desktop system

    but probably not at what it would cost to box and wire this up. Not when Amazon is selling refurb 2MHz, 2gb RAM and 250gb HDD running W7 for $180.
    I2k4
    • Also when AM1 is out

      AMD just released AM1, you can build an entire new system for $180-$200 with windows... and it will have 4GB ram and you can use an SSD. Nevermind having GCN graphics...
      Jimster480