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Hardware Linux

Survey Says: Raspberry Pi Still Rules, But X86 SBCs Have Made Gains ( 82

DeviceGuru writes: Results from's annual hacker-friendly single board computer survey are in, and not surprisingly, the Raspberry Pi 3 is the most desired maker SBC by a 4-to-1 margin. In other trends: x86 SBCs and Linux/Arduino hybrids have trended upwards. The site's popular hacker SBC survey polled 1,705 survey respondents and asked for their first, second, and third favorite SBCs from a curated list of 98 community oriented, Linux- and Android-capable boards. Spreadsheets comparing all 98 SBCs' specs and listing their survey vote tallies are available in freely downloadable Google Docs.
Other interesting findings:
  • "A Raspberry Pi SBC has won in all four of our annual surveys, but never by such a high margin."
  • The second-highest ranked board -- behind the Raspberry Pi 3 -- was the Raspberry Pi Zero W.
  • "The Raspberry Pi's success came despite the fact that it offers some of the weakest open source hardware support in terms of open specifications. This, however, matches up with our survey responses about buying criteria, which ranks open source software support and community over open hardware support."
  • "Despite the accelerating Raspberry Pi juggernaut, there's still plenty of experimentation going on with new board models, and to a lesser extent, new board projects."

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Survey Says: Raspberry Pi Still Rules, But X86 SBCs Have Made Gains

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  • by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Saturday June 24, 2017 @04:54PM (#54683445) Homepage

    Plus who cares about numbers? The pi and x86 boards are meant for totally different applications.

    • by caseih ( 160668 )

      I'm not so sure they are.

      I for one would far rather have an x86 equivalent of the Pi. Being able to interface with lots of GPIO pins but able to use a stock x86 kernel and stock distribution would be so much more convenient and useful to me than using one of the various Pi distros.

      On the other hand, few seem to think as I do, as Intel has canceled their hobby SBCs.

      • One of the problems with x86 SBCs is that they are pretty much solely based on Intel's offerings, which makes them quite a bit more expensive and therefore not as appealing to home-tinkerers and the likes. I suppose that is the primary reason for their apparent unpopularity. That said, I do like the promise of the x86-boards myself, what with proper QuickSync for all sorts video-needs, like e.g. realtime transcoding, and full OpenGL instead of OpenGL ES for any graphical applications and quite mature softwa

        • Re:Dupe (Score:4, Interesting)

          by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Saturday June 24, 2017 @07:40PM (#54684059)

          One of the problems with x86 SBCs is that they are pretty much solely based on Intel's offerings

          That cost problem is actually much more acute when you are talking about the real volume customer for these machines: Commercial products that use the Rpi are on the rise, and already account for more than 1/3rd of Raspberry Pi sales according to my supplier (I use the BBB for my commercial product line, which is much closer to 80% commercial product use now). The extra cost of intel based offerings is absolutely a deal breaker for us, as it does not come with any kind of advantages in exchange for the additional cost. The pi3 is already vastly overpowered for what we need, but the arduino has too little power

          The true story of the market driver for the Pi and its competitors is that IoT commercial space. That is the market Intel wanted in to, and that market is *very* price sensitive. Intel cant compete in that space because their core IP is simply too expensive to actually manufacture. The x86 architecture was shit the day it was created and has 30 years of cluster^&*$ hacks in it That mess brings zero value to the Iot world, but has a huge per unit cost. ARM is winning by default because they have had 15 years without a real competitor in their space, and every new generation of product, they simply abandon the old generations mistakes instead of having to support them in perpetuity.

          If Intel really wants to survive, they need to start making actual plans to abandon x86 and x64, and use their vast knowledge to go back to the drawing board with a squeaky clean design from scratch. That offering would have a chance in the IoT world, since they could probably get the design to be very efficient in both mip/flop per $ and mip/flop per watt if they didn't have to continue to support the legacy x86 garbage. That would be an offering that could compete with the ARM legions.

          x86 is a write off. Intel can abandon it now, or they can try to milk it until its too late, but either way, x86s days are closely tied to Windows and Desktop computers, both of which are facing the beginning of the long slow slide to irrelevancy and eventual abandonment.

  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Saturday June 24, 2017 @05:24PM (#54683539)

    It hits the sweet spot for price/performance/Low hassle.

    Faster and more expensive? I might as well buy a cheap tablet.
    Faster and cheaper? But lacks library support and a user based chock full of not just FAQ but rarely asked obsuratta that is key thing you needed to understand to get your job done

    If your time has any value then there is no computer cheaper than a pi worth the price difference. One can say that almost factually.

    THe ones that do compete are the ones offering more features like beagle bone.

    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Saturday June 24, 2017 @05:27PM (#54683553)

      Add to that:
      Worth your time to develop on because it will be supported 5 years form now. [See Intel or Orange pi for counter examples]

      • Also, if you develop a software project on RPi or a add-on SBC, you can share it with a lot of other people that also have RPis. It is popular because it is popular.

      • There is no certainty the RPi will exist in it's present form five years from now. It is dependent on a mobile CPU that is single sourced from a relatively minor vendor who one of the foundation members happens to work for.

          It is a quite praiseworthy project, but it's aims are pedagogical, and trends in education could shift significantly. Five years is a long time, and the R Pi Foundation has a lot of opportunity to grow in that five years.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      No, the REAL reason for RPi's success is the community.

      There are faster boards, there are better boards. But they don't have community behind it. This means the software stagnates and is out of date on release. But for RPi, there's plenty of community support such that software stacks keep getting updated. And there's lots of people to ask questions to.

      Community is probably the #1 factor in whether something will be around a year from now or not. If people aren't using your boards in any significant degree,

  • The Pi is great and all but its woefully underpowered. I've tried a number of different boards, the ODROID has way better specs and in the same price class.

    But every other x86 and even ARM boards I've tried are unstable. UDOO, Intel Compute Stick, UP Board all worthless as they crash from overheating within 48h of operation. And on ARM boards I can find little under $200 that has anything better than a Mali 450 GPU which is already nearing a half a decade old.

    • They aren't underpowered but they also aren't intended to be used as workstations. If you want the performance of a workstation then you should buy a workstation.

      • If they come with an HDMI output you would expect it to be able to compose a display at 1080p beyond a single stream movie.

        • No, I look at the specs and expect them to do what is listed because I understand it's an SBC, not a workstation.

          • by guruevi ( 827432 )

            That doesn't we should be happy with poor thermal design and crashes. If you give a board certain features, then using them for any period of time should not cause them to overheat and crash.

            You can't expect certain things from an SBC but not crash every 48h because there is some load is one of them.

        • If they come with an HDMI output you would expect it to be able to compose a display at 1080p beyond a single stream movie.

          compose a display?

          Honestly I've never checked. I only ever use the HDMI port for debugging. Generally they run headless for me and on the rare occasion I've built a gadget with a screen, then I use the official screen. The graphics (which I freely admit were pointless animations that I did for fun though amazingly actually increased the usability of the device) ran smoothly.

          So, works f

    • I've had good luck with Pine A64+. It has the crappy old GPU you're complaining about, but it's pretty cheap.

    • mini ITX celeron J1800, more expensive though, but at least you have something useful after playing.
  • Intel just killed it's IoT platform line, [] so there are going to be fewer x86 options for SBCs.

  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Saturday June 24, 2017 @05:33PM (#54683585)

    On the whole, people don't want open specifications more than they want something that is well-supported. Open specifications are a good thing, don't get me wrong. But given the choice between something that's a huge hassle to get working (and keep working) smoothly that's open and something that just plain works...well, I offer this survey's results as Exhibit A.

  • The article little to do with x86 vs ARM market share. It is basically a comparison of different single board computers (SBC). To bring up x86 is kind of pointless - especially considering that Intel just killed the majority of their boards.
    • You do realize that there are vendors who do x86 SBCs other than Intel? It's totally not pointless to bring up x86 SBCs in a discussion about, you know, SBCs.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Code might exist for x86 that is useful. Code has to be created or found and re created just for non x86 systems.
      Thats the difference. A lot of code that exists or a person has to learn to write code or to hope a nice person has the time to make code for a very different non x86 system.
      It would have been better to use x86 for hobby use and then to desktop and smaller networks.
      Lots of good code exists for the x86, skills can scale to different existing systems. Now people have to learn a new set of ski
      • by jeremyp ( 130771 )

        The Google search you need is "high level language". /they are a fairly recent invention, but they allow you to write your code in a non machine specific notation and it is covered to machine code by a tool called a compiler - or an interpreter.

  • The 40nm process the Pi is fabbed on is now nine years old.

    The Pi 3 is very thermally limited. Overheating and power supply related problems are very common. It's also only a ~30% improvement over the Pi2 while the Pi 2 was more like a 700% improvement over the original Pi. All of this would be very different if the Pi 3 had been fabbed at 28nm.

    Yes, it doesn't make sense to try to push the Pi onto a leading edge process like 10nm, where per-transistor costs are going up rather than down and FinFET design ge

  • The deal-killer with the r.pi is the still-unfixed USB bandwidth bug that has plagued the platform since the first generation.

  • I was surprised by the Raspberry Pi 3 stability. I constructed a light on/off switch to switch on light in the apartment via internet when I am on holiday. It can run without reloading for long time. I do not know for how long as the system never has got any issues.
  • And four of the top ten. Well done RPF! (Raspberry Pi Foundation.)
    I believe that one of the most important factors is the same thing that makes the Arduino so popular amongst embedded controllers: Community. Both have vibrant active communities where newcomers can share ideas and get help. Both provide support for those getting started.
    With the Pi Zero and Zero W we have a ridiculously inexpensive platform that runs a full blown OS. True, it is not up to snuff for replacing your desktop and costs do add up

IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out becoming pure energy. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.