There are a large number of control boards that you can pick from for your projects. The most popular ones are the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi, so which one you pick?
On the surface these boards look about the same. There are a couple of circuit boards, some chips and I/O connectors, right! In this article, we are going to take a look at the differences between these boards and how you can choose one for your project.
Let’s start by looking at the Arduino. If we visit homepage of the Arduino website, you see that there are many different boards available. In this tutorial were going to focus on the “Arduino Uno” which is based on Atmel Atmega 328. Inside the 328 is 2K ram, 32K flash memory and some timers and hardware that talks serial, I2C and S-P-I, also known as SPI.
Outside of the chip, the Arduino board contains parts like voltage regulators, passive components and some I/O connectors. It is a relatively simple design, with an even simpler software structure. The code that you write in the IDE is the only code that runs in the chip. There is no interpreter, no operating system and no firmware. Your C code is compiled into machine language and then it runs on the Arduino itself. This is as bare-bones as you can get.
Raspberry pi Platform
The Raspberry Pi on the other hand is actually a single board computer or “SBC”. On the board there is a 32-bit microprocessor which supports video output, USB host, Ethernet, SD cards and even an HDMI port. There is also some GPIO headers that look like Arduino pins, kinda like Arduino pins, but we will talk about how they are different here little bit. Overall what this means is that, your Raspberry Pi is more common with your computer than it does with Arduino.
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For example, instead of writing code to control the hardware directly, you are actually writing programs that run within an operating system and in the case of Raspberry Pi, the operating system is typically Linux.
Arduino is a microcontroller and the Pi is microprocessor, so then what is the difference between those two?
They both have a CPU which executes the instructions, timers, memory, as well as I/O pins. The IO pin is where the key difference lies. Microcontrollers tend to have a strong I/O capability so that they can drive external hardware directly, while microprocessors tend to have weak I/O, which need transistors to drive hardware.
Microprocessors are good at processing, so there will be brainier than a microcontroller. So for the sake of comparing the Arduino to the Pi, let’s look at some raw specifications between the two.
Raspberry Pi CPU has a clock speed that is over 40 times faster than the Arduino and is based on a 32-bit architecture. Arduino ram is measured in kilobytes, while Pi is measured in hundreds of megabytes. Both have general purpose I/O or GPIO, but the Arduino can drive source or sink up to 40 mA, while the Raspberry Pi is really limited to more around 5 milliamps.
In terms of power consumption, the Pi consumes more power than the Arduino, but always keep in mind what is the project going to have and why the other hardware cannot be included.
Lastly remember that the Pi usually runs some form of Linux, while the Arduino has no operating system. So first you might look at this article and say clearly the Pi is better, but we have to really talk about how you pick one of these for your project.
It is not all about the specifications!
This often leads to the question, which one is best? There is a simple answer! It does get a little simpler when you add the phrase “for my project”. If you think about projects that execute and control things like motors, LCDs and sensors, they work really well with a microcontroller like the Arduino.
Projects with things like video cameras, complex graphic interfaces and mathematics tend to be better suited for the Raspberry Pi.
Both boards have their place in electronics world, but nor is perfect and neither is going to be perfect for every single application. However, if your application is more about controlling things, the Arduino is probably a better choice, but if you need to process lots of data, the Pi is your best bet.
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