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$5 Raspberry Pi Zero Compared To Intel's NetBurst CPUs & Newer (phoronix.com) 99

An anonymous reader writes: Curious about the performance of a Raspberry Pi Zero, Phoronix has published a number of Raspberry Pi 2 + Pi Zero performance benchmarks with paired power consumption data. They found the Pi Zero performed slower than even an Intel Celeron 320 from the NetBurst era, but that the Raspberry Pi 2 was performing between that Celeron and a Pentium 4 "C" 2.8GHz CPU from 2004. While the Raspberry Pis didn't win in raw performance, the performance-per-Watt of the Raspberry Pi 2 was 220x greater than the Pentium Northwood. The Pi Zero had an average power consumption of 2.7 Watts and the Raspberry Pi 2 was at 3.5 Watts; however, compared to newer Broadwell and Skylake processors, Intel's low-end parts delivered greater power efficiency while the Raspberry Pi had the best value.
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$5 Raspberry Pi Zero Compared To Intel's NetBurst CPUs & Newer

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  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @04:36PM (#51090641)

    The older systems also had more ram and pci / agp / some even had pci-e.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The main advantage of the older systems in my book was that they were available for purchase over 10 years ago. Back then, I couldn't have afforded a 2015 era Raspberry Pi. I don't think anyone could have.
    • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @04:49PM (#51090775) Homepage

      This is my main problem with the Raspberry Pi. It's very well suited to certain tasks. But there are many places where it falls behind even very old technology.

      I had one that I wanted to use as to download my torrents. It turns out that downloading to the SD Card caused the thing to lock up because it was writing data faster than the device could handle it. I was able to get around this problem by writing to a USB stick. It no longer crashed, but there was still a bottleneck writing to disk, which caused the torrents to download significantly slower than they did on my desktop.

      It wasn't even due to bad memory stick or SD card. It was similar SD card and memory sticks that I used on my tablet that allow full speed torrent downloads. But something about the architechture of the Raspberry Pi that caused any kind of extensive writing to the SD or USB to cause a CPU spike every few seconds.

      These tiny ARM computers probably have enough CPU and RAM at this point to run as a desktop. But until they get proper interfaces for hooking up storage and networking, they won't be of much use to anybody.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by TWX ( 665546 )

        This is my main problem with the Raspberry Pi. It's very well suited to certain tasks. But there are many places where it falls behind even very old technology.

        That's my biggest beef with it. It feels like a learning-computer to me, something for a student to use to study very specific aspects of system design. A physical counterpart to Minix. Yet it seems to be touted as something more capable than that.

        What I need in low-end is beyond the capabilities of this device. I'm willing to accept the power consumption penalty of old equipment because I know that the old equipment won't let me down. The Raspberry Pi could be free but if it doesn't do what I need

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The Pis use the usb bus for everything, except Video (HDMI/Composite), Audio, GPIO, and maybe the SD port. Ethernet, wifi, etc. use the USB bus, which doesn't respond well to heavy IO loads, whether due to hardware failings of the broadcom soc, design issues with the board, or power limitations of design.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Why is everyone trying to build a desktop PC out of these things? As a $5 embedded platform they are massively overpowered for all sorts of projects, yet the only thing these articles ever rate it on is PC type tasks.

        • Why is everyone trying to build a desktop PC out of these things? As a $5 embedded platform they are massively overpowered for all sorts of projects, yet the only thing these articles ever rate it on is PC type tasks.

          Actually they may be competitive against old desktop PCs that have been retired to the closet as headless Linux servers. Read/write the data for the device being provided to a NAS box that has been mounted. Might work for a personal/home server. I'm thinking non-media applications, source code control, documentation wikis, etc. Less power and much quieter than a repurposed desktop. Again, note a NAS box has the data, the sdcard only the operating system and configuration.

          • Not if the desktop has other I/O channels other than USB. The R.Pi only has USB, and fails hard at trying to handle multiple devices.

            • Not if the desktop has other I/O channels other than USB. The R.Pi only has USB, and fails hard at trying to handle multiple devices.

              The only thing to plug in are ethernet and a USB cable to the uninterruptible power supply. My pis are older and have ethernet, which I understand is implemented via the USB controller.

              • Using both at once is what causes it to fail.

                • Using both at once is what causes it to fail.

                  That is not my experience. I've used a pi running raspbian as an alternative to a linux box with simultaneously active ethernet and USB ports, transferring data to/from both for weeks at a time. Also with a USB based wifi adapter rather than ethernet. The USB devices plugging in had their own power. Some folks have problems by trying to draw too much power from the pi via USB.

          • by DamonHD ( 794830 )

            I use an RPI as my primary Internet facing server and for other tasks, and matches the performance of a rackful of old Sun equipment. And runs from off-grid solar power, ie orders of magnitude less than those Sun servers:

            http://www.earth.org.uk/off-gr... [earth.org.uk]

            Oh, and I can shove it in a small cupboard, rather than taking a whole room.

            And I run it fanless with entirely solid-state media, so it's quiet.

            So, smaller, quieter and vastly more energy efficient and cheaper and people are WHINING?

            Gah

            Damon

      • USB based disk and network have alot of cpu overhead. Also if there only 1 USB bus then that will be come a bottleneck.

        Networking needs to be on the pci-e bus or some other cpu bus and not USB. Also maybe disk as well.

        • by tibit ( 1762298 )

          A lot of CPU overhead? I use USB for realtime industrial communications and what you say is true only with completely braindead implementations (either host hardware or drivers for it). From what I can tell, a lot of Linux USB drivers, for both devices and hosts, are written by people who just don't dig asynchronous, realtime, low-overhead streaming of data. It's entirely a software problem, I'd say. Any reasonable USB host will support either DMA or shared memory, so byte pushing is free.

      • But there are many places where it falls behind

        I know, right? If I am spending a whole $5 on a computer, it shouldn't have any limitations.

        • I know, right? If I am spending a whole $5 on a computer, it shouldn't have any limitations.

          That's what I'm trying to figure out here. What exactly were they expecting. This is like buying a scooter and complaining that it fits fewer people than a bus.

      • But until they get proper interfaces for hooking up storage and networking, they won't be of much use to anybody.

        I wouldn't even think of using a Raspberry Pi for storage or networking, that's not what they're for, as you've discovered.

        As a media player plugged into my TV running Kodi, it works really well however. I have another plugged into a monitor displaying a slideshow.

        A desktop or even a laptop is not going to be as good for something like that because they're too big and power hungry.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 )

        What you want is a socket AM1, I use them for all kinds of jobs where you want low power but still need decent performance. you can get a Sempron quad for $33 [newegg.com] that maxes out at 25w (and this really means max, according to kill-a-watt these things are sub 10w most of the time) and for that, the board, and a couple GB of RAM you can easily get it for less than $100.

        Sure its not as cheap as the Pi but you can do a hell of a lot more with it, they even do 1080P over HDMI quite well for those that want a low p

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        To be fair, on a 120Mb (really more like 60-70Mb on a good day with prevailing wind) connection Bittorrent can make even an SSD struggle. Pulling down 10MB/sec of small, random writes and sustaining that for tens of minutes is a pretty heavy load.

        Disk I/O performance is probably the biggest weakness of the Pi. For tasks that are not disk bound though, it can actually do a pretty good job as things like a network server or low power sensor platform. Even as a home file server, using USB drives, if high perfo

      • by tibit ( 1762298 )

        USB is the proper interface. The driver for the SD card basically sucks.

  • While in some benchmarks, the Pi 2 can keep up, it's clear it's overshadowed at times by the P4s.

    What I want to know is, if we have a cluster of Pi 2s that consume the same amount of power as the P4, how different are the results?

    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @04:59PM (#51090859) Journal

      If you had enough Pi boards to use the same amount of electricity as the Pentium 4, the stack of Pis would have 220 times as much computational power.

      One P4 runs a bit faster than a Pi, and uses a LOT more power.

      Of course that fact is probably not of any practical use. There are use cases for which a Pi is the right tool for the job, there are uses for which a typical desktop is the right tool for the job, and there are use cases for which the Arduino is the right tool for the job - and there isn't that much overlap. If you need a lot of computing power, you use a powerful processor, not a bunch of Raspberry Pi boards.

      The power consumption does point out that there is virtually no good use case for a P4 - it's cheaper to buy a newer CPU than to power a P4.

      • There is a footnote to my comment that there is virtually no good use for a P4. It might make sense where the machine is a) free and b) rarely powered on. I actually have such a use case; my Christmas light controller is only powered on for a few hours per year. Therefore the power savings of buying something newer may not offset the cost to do so.

        • There is a footnote to my comment that there is virtually no good use for a P4.

          Yep too loud for a headless server in the closet. I actually left the even older P2 in the closet when the P4 was retired. Still have the P4 in case I have to test/debug on a 32-bit system. As you say its paid for, its here, why bother setting up a 32-bit VM for testing/debugging? FWIW, I eventually replaced the P2 motherboard with some Intel all-in-one motherboard. Approximately $75, add RAM, passively cooled. I did add a low RPM quiet fan inside the cavernous case (the old P2 box, an Antec case with a qui

          • by adolf ( 21054 )

            Just run whatever headless Linux-ey things you need on the NAS box.

            My (inexpensive) Asus router, for example, has many times the RAM, performance, and storage of the first multi-user Linux server I ever hung off of the Internet, at a tiny fraction of the power consumption.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        Of course that fact is probably not of any practical use. There are use cases for which a Pi is the right tool for the job, there are uses for which a typical desktop is the right tool for the job, and there are use cases for which the Arduino is the right tool for the job - and there isn't that much overlap. If you need a lot of computing power, you use a powerful processor, not a bunch of Raspberry Pi boards.

        Well, a desktop from 2004 was far from useless. I'm thinking more in the direction of the Microsoft Lumia 950 + Display Dock, what's lacking is "universal apps" but you got a big screen (1920x1200 @ 60Hz) + mouse + keyboard, a dual core 1.8GHz ARM w/H.264+HEVC hardware decoding + 3GB RAM + GPU that beats Intel Bay Trail and AMD Mullins. Sure you can't compare it to a high end desktop but it might be more than good enough for many. The same kind of people who didn't need a desktop might in the future not nee

        • > Well, a desktop from 2004 was far from useless.

          It WAS not useless at the time. In fact, it was sometimes worth paying $100-$1200* per year to power it and run the air conditioning to get rid of the heat it generated.

          Now, you can get similar performance from a $40 machine that uses $1-$10 of electricity. Given the choice of spending $100+ to use a P4 for a year or spending $41 to use a Pi for a year, the P4 loses.

          Further, rent for apartment or office space is about $1/month or so. The P4 takes up $50

      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        The whole point of these things is that they're cheap and tiny, which means building them into things easy and practical. That in turn creates a community which swaps ideas and designs for them. If you want to talk pathetic computing power, there's the Arduino; but computational power isn't the point of the thing.

      • > the stack of Pis would have 220 times as much computational power.

        Is it time for that old /. meme? :-)

        Imagine a beowulf of pi !

  • The RPiZ is not available online anywhere in the USA or Canada, which means it's not available anywhere else in the multiverse!

    • by lowen ( 10529 )

      If you want to pay more than $5 there are several eBay auctions for RPiZ running right now. Yes, Adafruit is out of stock on them, but they're not the only source, again, if you're willing to pay more than $5.

  • In all fairness, almost everything modern would wipe the floor with the Netburst CPUs in terms of power efficiency, even back then. They were basically slow hotplates, and the Tualatin Pentium IIIs ran circles around the early Pentium 4s. I find it funny that Intel's Core architecture renaissance came from bringing back P6.
    • I look back and wonder what the heck Intel was thinking with NetBurst. Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but how did Intel's product roadmap get THAT messed up?

      And what's crazy is they still sold tons of the things.

    • Wasn't Core derived from Pentium M?

    • by tibit ( 1762298 )

      Tualatin Pentium IIIs ran circles around the early Pentium 4s

      Yup, I remember that, and I was quite puzzled by it for a little while. I had a tricked-out dual-socket PIII system that was really hard to beat for a while.

  • They're just a way to make slower chips look better when they really aren't. If it gets the job done faster, what's the real issue?

    I'll take a Netburst P4 over the R.Pi any day just for spite and proper USB implementation.

    • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @06:49PM (#51091683)

      They're just a way to make slower chips look better when they really aren't. If it gets the job done faster, what's the real issue?

      Not every task needs huge computing power. If the Pi gets the job done fast enough while burning less power than the cooling fans in your P4 system, taking up a fraction of the space and only costing ~$60 (by the time you've added a case, PSU and SD card), what's your issue?

      I've got an original Pi running DNS, DHCP for my home network, and a Pi2 hooked to my lounge TV as a media center frontend served by a PC in the spare room (I suspect the Pi chipset was made for set-top-box use - it can decode 1080p mp4 without breaking a sweat) - the Pi 1 struggled a bit with the i/o throughput but the Pi2 handles the necessary with ease. Dedicating a P4 to either of those tasks - or making your toy robot twice as big so it could take the weight of a P4 heatsink - would be ridiculous unless you also needed to supplement your central heating system.

  • I use it in at least one application where I need a simple server that consumes negligible power, has a wired network connection, has no moving parts, read-only FS and for all the above reasons will probably run for years and years without failing.

    I thought about using an old PC or server but the noise, power and space requirements, long-term reliability, cooling requirements and electricity bills are kind of off-putting.
  • "The Pi Zero had an average power consumption of 2.7 Watts and the Raspberry Pi 2 was at 3.5 Watts";
    Ok then compare that with a 3W Intel Atom E3805 [intel.com] if you want a modern performance per watt metric. Guess what the outcome will be?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > Ok then compare that with a 3W Intel Atom E3805

      TDP is a heat dissipation requirement and is _not_ the power draw of the CPU or of a system.

  • the x86-64 won. you can have a low power one, a fast one, a multicored-one, a supercomputer of them. sad since a bit nonlinear architecture but it is what it is.

    • by hvdh ( 1447205 )

      Yeah, but when you want low-power, fast, tiny and cheap at the same time, there's not much offered with x86-64.

  • by WillRobinson ( 159226 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @06:17PM (#51091481) Journal

    Have not played with one of these but I have several A and B+ being used daily.

      One is my voip system using Nerd Vittles PIAF http://nerdvittles.com/?p=1015... [nerdvittles.com]

    The other does my weather station
    http://weewx.com/ [weewx.com]

    The other does my BBQ controller
    https://github.com/CapnBry/Hea... [github.com]

    Sure there are many more uses.
    The new board may save a bit in my new builds will see...

    All running quite fine...

    So yes they have their place, low power, and reliable, no fan.

  • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @06:25PM (#51091547) Journal
    Nothing beats the newest Intel NUCs on performance per watt. I have a bunch of raspberry pi 2 boards and a I Pi Zero i was lucky enough to get, and i paid $5 + tax on it retail. When it came time to build a playback-only HTPC, i used a NUC. I paired the NUC5CPYH (braswell?) with 2 GB of RAM and OpenElec on a class 10 SD card. It also comes in a nice casing, wifi and integrated IR receiver all for about $150 retail. I could build up a pi 2 for about half that cost, but it wouldnt be nearly as performant, look as nice, or be as well integrated. The icing on the cake is that USB and the other internal busses are properly implemented (1GB ethernet vs 10/100, USB 3.0 with UASP vs USB 2.0) AND it can run x86-64 Linux and Windows....
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nnull ( 1148259 )
      The Intel NUC's do have way better performance and power usage. But, the Raspberry Pi price point makes it pretty damn good as well. Depending what you're doing, making a information display would cost me in excess of $300-$400 using the NUC (You realize you have to buy memory for some of the devices?), vs just under $100 with the PI. Not only that, the PI breaks (Never had one break yet), it's pretty trivial and cheap to get a replacement. So really depends what you need. Both are pretty good.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Performance per watt comparisons are only really useful within certain brackets. For example, if you want a solar powered server then an Intel NUC is hopeless, but the RPi works well. It's only useful to compare performance per watt between the Pi and other very low power minimal SoC boards.

  • If you are interested in the power consumption of the Pi, you should probably check out this: http://www.midwesternmac.com/b... [midwesternmac.com]

  • Yes a bicycle uses less gasoline than a automobile, and is far more efficient. But a bicycle is not practical in every situation.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes a bicycle uses less gasoline than a automobile, and is far more efficient. But a bicycle is not practical in every situation.

      But does a bike's rider emit less CO2 than a car?

      Actually, I finally bothered to google that, and yes, it is better. Bike is about 200MPG and walking about 60MPG
      http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/mpg-of-a-human/

      That said, if you stick 4-5 people in a Prius for a long drive, it's better than them all trying to bikes or walk there. Assuming they didn't need the eerrcise int he first place... which is rarely an issue in countries that can afford a Prius.

      • If you include the total cost of maintenance and construction, the bikes will come out way ahead.

    • That's a bicycle analogy, actually.
  • There are lots of other computers in the world, small and large. Plenty are faster or cheaper or bluer than the Raspberry-Pi, but almost all miss the point: R-Pi is not about the hardware. It's about the ecosystem - the images you can install, kits you can buy, the tutorials in magazines and on YouTube, the jams, the general buzz around it that makes people (and their focus is kids in particular) interested in playing with it.
  • Raspberry Pi was never designed for heavy workload, this is why this comparison is ridiculous - it is a bit like comparing apple and oranges. However the comparison is still very interesting, as it tells us how far our technology has advanced.

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