It’s a fantastic little device, a low-spec computer available for less than $30 — but how long will the Raspberry Pi dominate the small PC hobbyist market? Are there competitors ready to take his place?

Raspberry Pi available 512MB RAM (258MB on older models) and 700MHz GPU is one of the most amazingly versatile models on the market today. Offering flexibility in setting up a media center retro game system NAS box or even desktop The Raspberry Pi and — along with its stated goal of providing a platform for kids and students to learn about software development — it’s being attacked by a range of competing alternatives that offer more processing power and connectivity options.

So what are these competing devices, and do they stand a chance of pushing the Raspberry Pi out of its beloved position as king of minicomputers?

What makes a Raspberry Pi successor?

The specs of the Raspberry Pi are modest but effective. The small PC measures 85.60mm × 53.98mm (3.370″ × 2.125″) with a depth of only 15mm. An unmodified Raspberry Pi weighs 45 grams (1.6 ounces) before being placed in its case.


While the more popular Model B was originally released with 256MB of RAM, it now ships with 512MB; other changes to the system specification should be expected as costs are reduced. Perhaps the real strength of the Raspberry Pi lies in its connectivity options, allowing you to output HDMI, RCA, audio, and connect various USB devices, an SD card, and an Ethernet cable. There are also GPIO pins for custom extensions and cable connections.

It’s understandably modest, and any computer with a similar form factor will need to take a look at those specs. Likewise, a competing device will need to have additional connectivity and storage, as well as a good selection of operating systems, and perhaps even an affordable BIOS or embedded OS for low-level tasks. Competitors who decide to take down the Raspberry Pi should also look to price their hardware in the same $50 zone.

One last word, before we look at the alternatives, you’ll notice that the Raspberry Pi’s overlooked competitor is missing. However, we omitted mention of the Arduino, mainly because it’s not really a competitor. Its feature set is quite different and indeed Pi and Arduino can be linked to work together on some projects.


Israeli company CompuLab is releasing an ARM Utility-based miniature computer later in 2013, equipped with a Freescale i.MX6 system-on-a-chip with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor and support for up to 4 GB of RAM. In addition, there are four USB 2.0 ports and one USB OTG port, two Ethernet ports, built-in 802.11 WiFi and Bluetooth, as well as I/O and HDMI and DVI-D connectivity options.


1080p H.264, VC1, RV10 and DivX decoding is available, positioning this device as a multimedia solution is possible, and GPUs support OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0, OpenVG 1.1 and OpenCL EP.

Available operating systems include Android and Linux, with CompuLab saying the device will be «offered with full-featured desktop-class Ubuntu Linux or Android operating systems for a rich media and PC experience.»

Looking like one of the many PC-on-a-stick solutions that currently exist, the Utility looks like a computer that could become popular. However, the $99 price (and that’s for the base model) takes it out of the Raspberry Pi’s target market.

The chances of Cream Pi are 6/10

beagle board

Closer to the Raspberry Pi style is the BeagleBoard. Of the four models available, the most basic version is the BeagleBone Black, priced at $45.


In terms of hardware, the BeagleBone Black uses the same package-on-pack (POP) CPU/memory chip concept as the Pi, saving space on the 86 x 53mm board. Able to run Android and various Linux distributions, the BeagleBone Black is equipped with a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 Core processor, PowerVR SGX 2D/3D GPU (with dual display support) and 512MB DDR3 memory.

Connectivity to this device is provided by microHDMI for audio and video output, a built-in 2GB eMMC flash drive, and one host-capable USB port (hence capable of connecting hard drives, mice, keyboards, etc. via a USB hub) . Loading time is less than 10 seconds, which is quite impressive.

Produced by Texas Instruments, the original BeagleBoard actually predates the Raspberry Pi, with the first device being released in 2008. However, the current BeagleBone Black appears to have been designed to appeal to the same enthusiastic market as the Raspberry Pi.

Can the BeagleBone Black compete with the Raspberry Pi? Well, it shares some of the ethos of the Pi, and is intended for developers and hobbyists alike. This has a good chance.

Chances for Cream of Pi — 8/10


Available for just $63 (£40 in the UK), the Gooseberry sits just above the Pi’s price range and is widely marketed as a «Raspberry Pi alternative». How true is this?


With a single 1GHz A10 processor (overclocked to 1.5GHz), a 400MHz Mali GPU, and 4GB of internal storage (expandable up to 32GB via microSD), the Gooseberry has built-in Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, one 3.5mm audio jack, one mini USB port, HDMI output and microSD slot. The operating system is Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and while Ubuntu may work, it does require some upfront work.

The Gooseberry is a curious piece of kit that can be directly plugged into a USB port from a standard desktop computer. At first glance, it looks like a much flatter Raspberry Pi, although it’s slightly larger (unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a record of device dimensions on the official website or elsewhere, so I’m relying entirely on peripheral sizes). connectors). However, like the Utility, this device seems to be less for development and more for entertainment. The fact that it is derived from a Chinese PCBA often found in tablet computers is a good indicator of this.

The Gooseberry is a solid computer, but it’s not quite in the same league as the Raspberry Pi when it comes to flexibility, development, and passion.

The chances of Cream Pi are 6/10

What does the Raspberry Pi creator think?

Any of the above candidates can prove to be a dangerous opponent for the Raspberry Pi, provided there is support, PR, and a strong spirit of presence. But will any of them succeed?


When I met Eben Upton in early 2013 he was sure that it would be some time before anything came to challenge Pi. Pointing out that there was nothing else in the $50 space, he remarked that «the threat problem is interesting, I don’t recognize anything threatening, but our goal is to build a lot of small, programmable computers.» , If someone builds a lot of small programmable computers, that’s good.»

Conclusion: who will win the Raspberry Pi?

The companies listed above have clear goals for their computers to offer more power and features than the Raspberry Pi. But it’s hard to say whether they’ll be able to steal market share from a non-profit project.

Despite the strength of the BeagleBone Black, I’m inclined to think the Raspberry Pi is here to stay, maybe upgraded with extra RAM and CPU cycles every year or so, and even maybe an extra USB port.

But what do you think? Raspberry Pi is in an unassailable position? Does its nonprofit status mean that any company trying to replicate its success is wasting its time?

Let us know about it in the comments.

Image credit: Cowjuice, Jadonk

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