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littlejeem

Advice on new SBC device

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Hello Folks

 

I'm after some advice. I've been an avid user of Raspberry Pi's for some time and just love how good they are for tinkering around with without breaking my larger main system, helps me learn all the time.

 

I've recently started using my Raspberry Pi (3b+) to automate several task. I have three mono and two python services running, well I say running......

 

Essentially if any more than two of these need to process data together the pi can't cope. Top command tells me RAM usage is often 90-100% and the CPU running at between 115-130% before system starts to error out and SSH becomes inaccessible.

 

I feel like I need a device with more grunt and more memory but the plethora of devices out these to chose from makes it really hard to decide.

 

So far I can't make up my mind between:

 

Banana Pi M3

Odroid XU4Q

Asus Tinkerboard S

NanoPi M4

 

Can anybody help me with some advice?

 

Ideally I want something stable....around the £40-£80 mark. Can run a familiar is such as raspbian, Debian, Ubuntu, armbian.......

 

 

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Welcome!

 

Avoid Banana M3 at all costs. Besides that, all three other devices are good, depending on your budget and how good of a deal you can get.

 

Probably Nanopi M4 is still a bit immature on the software side (too new), but if you plan to use it in the long term, it's a good choice.

 

XU4 is rather old, but it is still a great computer, and software support is excellent. Plus, now you can find it very cheap. I recommend buying in Ameridroid and adding a emmc module.

 

Tinkerboard S is a great machine, with very good software support too. Though, you'll need to find a very good microusb cable for powering, which is not always easy, and also this board will probably be the most expensive of the three.

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Hey JMC.

 

Thanks very much for this. Id read that SD corruption was an issue with the XU4 so was thinking of spending a little more to get emmc support.

 

I'm up for seeing if the NanoPi M4 matures (and therefore getting the benefot of the 4gb ram) and the cost of the tinkerboard has dropped in UK to sub £80.

 

I've not heard of the Ameridroid so will check out.....

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For the tinkerboard, if you have a case that can accommodate it, it is good to either power it with 5.25 volts (and 3 amps) or through the gpio header with 5.1 V of clean power.  

 

As JMCC said, all minus the BPi are good choices.  I use an XU4 for my media server on SD, I've never had any issues with SD corruption (anecdotal I know, but I had far more trouble with Pi's, enough to start trying to port a HAT library to literally any other platform rather than just use the Pi I have on my desk)

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On 2/9/2019 at 9:11 AM, littlejeem said:

Banana Pi M3

Odroid XU4Q

Asus Tinkerboard S

NanoPi M4

1,5 years ago I would have cheered in to Tony & JMCC, but  since then my MicroUSB on the TinkerBoard just stopped working. Well, plus still works, but minus is dead and I was always very carefully, rarely unplugged it. I tried to fix with with re-solder and hotair... dead as a parrot (monty phyton). I must power it via GPIO losing safety features - and a pain cable wise.

 

So POWER is key, good software as well. If you need many cores and not all features software wise, the M3 maybe your choice https://linux-sunxi.org/Linux_mainlining_effort

If you have the time to wait, the RockChip 3399 on the NanoPi gets better every two months - how well the power design with USB-C is done, I cannot judge.

I guess Hardkernel Odroid took care of maintaining their software and so you find a good power/software solution here and some proper cooling options.

 

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On 2/9/2019 at 9:11 AM, littlejeem said:

Banana Pi M3

Odroid XU4Q

Asus Tinkerboard S

NanoPi M4

I would choose the NanoPi M4 with 4GB.
It's the least trouble, en it's very well supported.

As @Tido said. There's problems with the Tinker. I also got a broken one. HDMI doesn't work anymore, something burned out. How and why, I don't know. I bought a new one to never use since unstable and gets too hot.
The XU4 was for long one of my favorites, but the M4 does everything that the XU4 did, and better. The XU4 also had some minor problems the M4 doesn't have.

The M4 has better power with USB-C, the best heatsink so doesn't overheat quickly, the most ram, 64-bit, very very fast... The others have some of those characteristics, but none other has them all.

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On 2/9/2019 at 12:11 AM, littlejeem said:

I've recently started using my Raspberry Pi (3b+) to automate several task. I have three mono and two python services running, well I say running......

 

Essentially if any more than two of these need to process data together the pi can't cope. Top command tells me RAM usage is often 90-100% and the CPU running at between 115-130% before system starts to error out and SSH becomes inaccessible.

 

I feel like I need a device with more grunt and more memory but the plethora of devices out these to chose from makes it really hard to decide.

 

Irregardless of the candidate boards - you might want to look at your applications... PI3, no matter what others might mention, is good enough for a certain load, and all the other *Pi single board machines are going to be similar - if you're pushing a Pi3 that hard, not much more can be done...

 

Hardware will only get you so far...

 

Tinker has a lot of horsepower, as perhaps the NanoPI M4 - but might not solve your ask at the end of the day. That and the Rockchip mess that is with upstream...

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42 minutes ago, sfx2000 said:

PI3, no matter what others might mention, is good enough for a certain load,

 

Mine wouldn't reliably make it through a movie...  :'(  I had to put my media center back to my Pi 2.  That was before some of the "magic" secret VC4 blob updates that limited clock speed, and did who knows what else...  So maybe it works as stable as my Pi 2 now.  :lol:

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On 2/11/2019 at 7:07 PM, TonyMac32 said:

Mine wouldn't reliably make it through a movie...  :'(  I had to put my media center back to my Pi 2.  That was before some of the "magic" secret VC4 blob updates that limited clock speed, and did who knows what else...  So maybe it works as stable as my Pi 2 now.  :lol:

 

Yeah, the initial release firmware for pi3b+ was a bit buggy - as mentioned, the firmware for Pi3+ is fairly stable... There were driver issues related to the USB Hub/Ethernet controller that impacted stability, and that's sorted - 4.14.98 is the current raspbian production kernel (with associated vc4 firmware)

 

With the development kernel* (4.19), there's some issues with WiFi, as upstream moved locations in 4.15 for the wireless-regdb, but they have bug reports, and I'm sure someone is working on it.

 

Current state is stable enough for me - I use it mainly has my headless jump server for ssh inbound and a dokuwiki instance for internal notekeeping. It's not the same level of board that Armbian supports - but it's stable, and works well enough.

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2 hours ago, littlejeem said:

Thanks everybody for all the advice and opinions, it's a minefield out there!

 

......perhaps I should wait for a the RadpberryPi 4! :D

 

Going to keep my eye of the NanoPi.

 

For Armbian supported boards - I really do like the FriendlyARM h3/h5 boards - they're well understood, FriendlyARM has very good documentation, and the linux-sunxi community is one of the more active ones compared to what we see with Amlogic or Rockchip.

 

RPI folks have some plans post BCM2835/6/7 (VC4 based), as they've already indicated that the 3+ updates for Pi3B+/A+/CM3 is the end of VC4 - rumors are interesting where it might be VC5 and some kind of ARM 64bit, but I've heard other chatter about maybe being RISC-V, which I don't give too terribly much credibility to... VC5 with Broadcom B53 seems to make the most sense for an RPi4...

 

Early looks at Quad B53 cores on the HND platform for routers (BCM4908) - strong performance clock for clock over similar Cortex-A9/Cortex-A53 based SoC's...

 

I really can't see Raspberry Pi folks moving away from the VideoCore platform, given Eben Upton's relationship with the VideoCore - he was part of the team that developed that platform long before Raspberry Pi was even an idea...

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51 minutes ago, sfx2000 said:

he was part of the team that developed that platform long before Raspberry Pi was even an idea...

I can't help but think this will be a cyclical issue for that community then, he is far too sentimental (tunnel vision perhaps), and the platform is far too closed hardware wise.  Typical market forces will render them noncompetitive over and over as they cling to the familiar.

 

As always, the "open source platform" would be on a non-distributor SoC with a most likely closed source VC5, with all the typical paywalls up to be "permitted" to use the HEVC/etc.  Since Eben was willing to hide his camera tuning behind DRM on the VC4 devices, I can only imagine the uses for the improved security core...  <_<

 

Again, not a problem, except they sit their in their tiny little hardware sandcastle with the tide coming in and claim to build unquestionably superior supercomputers.

 

 

I was a lot less sarcastic on this topic before I started reading their forums and seeing the excuses they give for basic lacking functionality, the technical 1/4 truths, some outright deception, hiding behind "millions sold" numbers instead of engaging technical questions...  The GbE one was too much, their assertion was that achieving 30% Gb throughput was irrelevant since it was attached to the network at GbE bit rates.  That's like me putting 300 kph rated tires on a Lada Riva and claiming to compete with Ferrari because the physical contact between the car and the street was capable of high speed operation...  (to be fair, the Lada may be more reliable than a Ferrari...  :ph34r:)

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15 minutes ago, TonyMac32 said:

I can't help but think this will be a cyclical issue for that community then, he is far too sentimental (tunnel vision perhaps), and the platform is far too closed hardware wise.  Typical market forces will render them noncompetitive over and over as they cling to the familiar.

 

As always, the "open source platform" would be on a non-distributor SoC with a most likely closed source VC5, with all the typical paywalls up to be "permitted" to use the HEVC/etc.  Since Eben was willing to hide his camera tuning behind DRM on the VC4 devices, I can only imagine the uses for the improved security core...  <_<

 

Again, not a problem, except they sit their in their tiny little hardware sandcastle with the tide coming in and claim to build unquestionably superior supercomputers.

 

 

I was a lot less sarcastic on this topic before I started reading their forums and seeing the excuses they give for basic lacking functionality, the technical 1/4 truths, some outright deception, hiding behind "millions sold" numbers instead of engaging technical questions...  The GbE one was too much, their assertion was that achieving 30% Gb throughput was irrelevant since it was attached to the network at GbE bit rates.  That's like me putting 300 kph rated tires on a Lada Riva and claiming to compete with Ferrari because the physical contact between the car and the street was capable of high speed operation...  (to be fair, the Lada may be more reliable than a Ferrari...  :ph34r:)

 

Yeah - it's all good - they have their place, and to be honest, if they were not successful at it, we wouldn't have the vibrant SBC community that we see now...

 

RPi is going to go down the path that they see works best for them and their objectives as a business - and so far, it is working well for them.

 

And there will always be folks that complain about the "FOSS" vs. closed blobs - and this is a Mac vs. PC argument all over again - or Unix vs VMS, or... you get the picture I'm sure, one can be focused on a platform to get the best use, or waste time throwing stones... it's not good form to throw rocks at others when one's own house isn't really in order - which is an opportunity for the Armbian team to sort - one model (RPi) with somewhat vigorous sponsorship, vs a rag-tag team of smart motivated independent developers and enthusiasts....


I'm ok with focusing on a platform to get the best usage - I've been thru the holy wars - one of the big ones was CDMA vs GSM in the wireless space...

 

FWIW - I drive a car that is actually more rare than a Ferrari 458... they sold over 18,000... My Acura TSX Sportswagon - less than 8,000...

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14 minutes ago, TonyMac32 said:

The GbE one was too much, their assertion was that achieving 30% Gb throughput was irrelevant since it was attached to the network at GbE bit rates.

you shouldn't read me arguing against RPi folks on their forum anymore.. :ph34r::lol: Sarcasm is something people mostly don't get online.. :D

 

16 minutes ago, TonyMac32 said:

Since Eben was willing to hide his camera tuning behind DRM on the VC4 devices, I

at least their cameradriver works with overlayFS :ph34r::lol: whereas rockchips doesn't..

 

1 hour ago, sfx2000 said:

Yeah, the initial release firmware for pi3b+ was a bit buggy - as mentioned, the firmware for Pi3+ is fairly stable...

The whole thingie is still problematic with dump hubs which don't provide flow-control... Fun-fact by using the 'hated' network manager, a simple dispatcher script could solve it (e.g. if flowcontrol = off then lower to fast ethernet).. Cause raspian doesn't use it I wouldn't mess with it's configuration..

 

The cryptochip on RPi cam v2 is just a shame.. There's no reason for not releasing their schematics.. You can't buy the SoC anyway so why hiding how this thingie is glued together?

 

1 hour ago, sfx2000 said:

but I've heard other chatter about maybe being RISC-V, which I don't give too terribly much credibility to..

why should they? Performance wise chances are high that it won't compete with an arm.. And the RPi isn't knonw as a ferrari.. :D

 

But I'm close to merge those posts with the RPi thread..  ;) Cause we're a way off-topic here.. :P

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3 minutes ago, sfx2000 said:

And there will always be folks that complain about the "FOSS" vs. closed blobs

 

Well, like I said, my point isn't about the blobs, that's fine.  But don't bring my highly polished brass and sell it as gold.  My entire issue is the whole truth in advertising bit.

 

4 minutes ago, sfx2000 said:

My Acura TSX Sportswagon

 

I'd take that over a Ferrari, TBH.

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, sfx2000 said:

to be fair, the Lada may be more reliable than a Ferrari...

 

Lada's are actually pretty decent, all told - the root there was FIAT, and the Russians built enough of them over time to fix the bugs...

 

A Ferrari is a Fiat in nice clothes...

 

I have a Danish friend - in conversation - Porsche made in Italy or a Ferrari made in Germany - he said neither, as he own an NSX...

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1 minute ago, sfx2000 said:

the root there was FIAT, and the Russians built enough of them over time to fix the bugs...

 

Well, they doubled the thickness of the sheet metal, beefed up the suspension, never added any new features, so yeah, I can see it.

 

I had a German designed engine in my Ford, it had all the inexcusable failures my friend's BMW had, and now the small truck sits in my driveway dead waiting on an American engine with almost twice the mileage to be swapped in...  :ph34r::P

 

OK, end of #offtopic.

 

For boards, honestly the rockchip boards should all be leaders, but their manufacturer seems to enjoy causing frustration.  They have modified their behavior somewhat, and community members are stepping up on media, we will see.  Amlogic performs pretty well, but again, some of the strangest decisions and a magic blob of doom that is impossible to control...  and questionable advertising of capabilities (perhaps that's getting better).  Allwinner is solid, but the processors are all quite old and some are apparently being EOL'd

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27 minutes ago, TonyMac32 said:

For boards, honestly the rockchip boards should all be leaders, but their manufacturer seems to enjoy causing frustration.  They have modified their behavior somewhat, and community members are stepping up on media, we will see.  Amlogic performs pretty well, but again, some of the strangest decisions and a magic blob of doom that is impossible to control...  and questionable advertising of capabilities (perhaps that's getting better).  Allwinner is solid, but the processors are all quite old and some are apparently being EOL'd

 

China/TW Chips...

  • Rockchip - I'd agree... consistency is their problem, and one that AllWinner actually solved to a big degree - what's odd with RK is the Kodi folks and the VPU/GPU stuff, and some of that is community/politics...
  • Amlogic - concur, and they're also going to do what they do - Android seems to be a priority, but the S912 is in many ways, the king of A53's... linux-meson is getting some momentum - great STB chipsets
  • AllWinner - predictable and generally work - wasn't always this way, but stability and the efforts of the sunxi community
  • Mediatek - well - it's a pretty closed world there, even inside Android

Looking at NXP/Qualcomm/Broadcom/Marvell./TI/NXP...

 

Same challenges there -

  • Marvell is a bit more open when they want to be
  • Broadcom is a hot mess
  • Qualcomm is obviously focused on high end, just like the
  • NXP i.MX and 
  • TI Sitara...

 

It really comes down to the level of suck/pain.... some boards and vendors are going to be easier to work with.

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23 hours ago, sfx2000 said:

Mediatek - well - it's a pretty closed world there, even inside Android

I wouldn't fully agree on this one.. It seems that they slightly change their opinion for a few SoCs

https://patchwork.kernel.org/project/linux-mediatek/list/

e.g. the BPi R2 runs fully mainlined (kernel & u-boot, except wifi and maybe HDMI - no idea, never tested it) with only a few patches (nothing critical)..

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2 hours ago, chwe said:

I wouldn't fully agree on this one.. It seems that they slightly change their opinion for a few SoCs

https://patchwork.kernel.org/project/linux-mediatek/list/

e.g. the BPi R2 runs fully mainlined (kernel & u-boot, except wifi and maybe HDMI - no idea, never tested it) with only a few patches (nothing critical)..

 

Really depends on the Mediatek chip - as a company, they're as obtuse as Qualcomm, maybe even more...

 

In general - just not worth chasing them down...

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