Thursday, January 26th 2012

$25 Raspberry Pi Hobby Computer Doubles iPhone 4S GPU Performance And Beats Tegra 2

We have previously reported on the super cheap ARM-based Raspberry Pi hobby computer that's been under development from the Raspberry Pi foundation. However, it's now going into production and is generating a lot of interest, so gamesindustry.biz interviewed its founder, Eben Upton, about it (free registration required).

The computer's primary purpose is as a computer science teaching aid in schools and colleges and also for home brew use by enthusiasts who want to tinker with it and make specialized solutions out of it. However, it seems that enthusiasts will have a nice surprise in that the onboard GPU is surprisingly good. The actual ARM implementation is a Broadcom BCM2835 System on Chip (SoC) containing an ARM 11 CPU and a custom graphics core, which has been designed by the Raspberry Pi team, including Upton. In the interview, Upton claimed that it can double iPhone 4S performance and handily beats NVIDIA's Tegra solution, because of its tile mode architecture.

"Q: We know that you have a 700MHz ARM11 core in the Raspberry Pi SoC. However, you've described the Broadcom chip as a GPU with ARM elements grafted on. Can you give some idea of the rendering power of the graphics core? Is it true that it comprehensively outperforms NVIDIA's Tegra 2? If so, how?

Eben Upton: I was on the team that designed the graphics core, so I'm a little biased here, but I genuinely believe we have the best mobile GPU team in the world at Broadcom in Cambridge. What's really striking is how badly Tegra 2 performs relative even to simple APs using licensed Imagination Technologies (TI and Apple) or ARM Mali (Samsung) graphics. To summarise, BCM2835 has a tile mode architecture - so it kills immediate-mode devices like Tegra on fill-rate - and we've chosen to configure it with a very large amount of shader performance, so it does very well on compute-intensive benchmarks, and should double iPhone 4S performance across a range of content."

There don’t appear to be any objective benchmarks to prove this at the moment, so we will have to take his word for it for now. Of course, this little computer isn't a one trick pony and can do many other things, such as offering full support for 1080p30 Blu-ray h.264 files, making it a competent media player. Also, it runs Linux, which is highly customizable and has a good selection of interfaces, such as USB 2.0, SD, HDMI, RCA video, analog audio and a 10/100 Ethernet port. It is also capable of supporting various expansion boards.
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25 Comments on $25 Raspberry Pi Hobby Computer Doubles iPhone 4S GPU Performance And Beats Tegra 2

#1
Delta6326
This sounds pretty cool Would be sweet to use for just surfing the web. Use Linux and put it on a Sandisk 64 GB SDXC or SandDisk 64GB Micro SDXC and put some music and movies on it. Hook it up to your TV. People will ask where are you streaming all your stuff from and point to a little box.

EDIT: ... I'm confused is it SDXC/SDHC/SD or Micro SD?

More INFO here http://www.raspberrypi.org/faqs I really wan't one its only $35 or less
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#2
Play3r
I will definitely be purchasing at least one of these. You can get XBMC on one of these and have yourself a little HTPC for very very cheap.
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#3
JrRacinFan
Served 5k and counting ...
Quite interesting, I'll take 2 please.
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#4
Jizzler
Nice, right on track for when they expected to be ready. Will nab a couple Model B's!
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#5
Delta6326
Don't forget you can only buy one till they get more later.


I really want to make a custom stained wood box for this just need to figure out how to do the ports. I'm getting all my dimension from that Google Sketchup.
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#6
Bluefox1115
yeah I definitely want a couple of these upon release..
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#7
Completely Bonkers
WHAT A SHAME there aren't 2x ethernet ports. Would make a nice router or firewall. Now, didn't I read somewhere that there will be an ARM flavour of Windows 8? :D
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#8
deleted
by: Delta6326
I'm confused is it SDXC/SDHC/SD or Micro SD?
It has a slot for a full size SD card on the back of the board. Most Micro SDs come with an adapter, though, so you can use either.
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#9
boomstik360
Way cool. I can't wait to tinker with something like this. Definitely have my order. My only
Gripe is the 256mb ram but it should be okay with Linux.
Posted on Reply
#10
_JP_
by: Completely Bonkers
WHAT A SHAME there aren't 2x ethernet ports. Would make a nice router or firewall. Now, didn't I read somewhere that there will be an ARM flavour of Windows 8? :D
It has an SD card slot, so you could use one of those new SD wireless adapters.
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#11
R_1
Too excessive power for me. I will consider to buy one when they use at least ARMv7. That ARM11 is too much powerful for my taste. It is for lunching rocket into space , breaking DNA code and other advanced stuff. :laugh:
Posted on Reply
#12
KieranD
Ive known about this for awhile. I dont think i will be able to get one as too many people know about it, it will definitely sell out fast.
All the Yanks and Europeans want them, its supposed to be an education project for the UK so i was hoping they would release the first batch to us UK'ers but i get a feeling its going to be first come first serve... AH!

Model B is actually $35.
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#13
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
by: KieranD
Ive known about this for awhile. I dont think i will be able to get one as too many people know about it, it will definitely sell out fast.
All the Yanks and Europeans want them, its supposed to be an education project for the UK so i was hoping they would release the first batch to us UK'ers but i get a feeling its going to be first come first serve... AH!

Model B is actually $35.
All the more reason for them to print more. :D

I hope they do anyway.
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#14
HalfAHertz
It's NOT more powerful than either tegra2 or the A5...The ARM11 core is 2 generations old...the GPU does look sound tho.
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#15
brandonwh64
Addicted to Bacon and StarCrunches!!!
Just noticed this was a LINUX only device. Wished it could atleast run a miniXP or android OS if all possible.
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#16
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
by: brandonwh64
Just noticed this was a LINUX only device. Wished it could atleast run a miniXP or android OS if all possible.
I don't think it'll take that long for Android to come to it.
Posted on Reply
#17
mandis
by: qubit

"Q: We know that you have a 700MHz ARM11 core in the Raspberry Pi SoC. However, you've described the Broadcom chip as a GPU with ARM elements grafted on. Can you give some idea of the rendering power of the graphics core? Is it true that it comprehensively outperforms NVIDIA's Tegra 2? If so, how?
Of course it can!! It was hand built by ALIENS!!! OBVIOUSLY!!!



by: qubit
Eben Upton: To summarise, BCM2835 has a tile mode architecture - so it kills immediate-mode devices like Tegra on fill-rate - and we've chosen to configure it with a very large amount of shader performance, so it does very well on compute-intensive benchmarks, and should double iPhone 4S performance across a range of content." .
YEP! AND I'M ...BATMAN!! :rolleyes:
Posted on Reply
#18
Esse
by: brandonwh64
Just noticed this was a LINUX only device. Wished it could atleast run a miniXP or android OS if all possible.
Well it's not a Linux only device it's just using an ARM processor.

Windows CE and Android will work. Other than CE, Windows has never supported ARM processors.
Posted on Reply
#19
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: Esse
Other than CE, Windows has never supported ARM processors.
Windows 8 does.
Posted on Reply
#20
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: _JP_
It has an SD card slot, so you could use one of those new SD wireless adapters.
Or just use a USB Wireless adapter, or USB ethernet adapter.

by: qubit
Windows 8 does.
Windows 8 will, but I doubt it will work with only 256MB of RAM.
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#21
Trackr
Does this take BIOS soldering to use, or is it something anyone can do?

I'm sort of in the middle right now ;)
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#22
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: newtekie1
Windows 8 will, but I doubt it will work with only 256MB of RAM.
Oh, quite. Probably even 512MB is pushing it. I'm simply making the point that the upcoming one does support ARM.

Hey, I'm tempted to use MSCONFIG and see how my 64-bit Windows 7 boots with onlu 256MB RAM on my current rig just for giggles. However, it won't boot, I'm in a bit of a catch 22, aren't I? lol
Posted on Reply
#23
jmcslob
by: qubit
Oh, quite. Probably even 512MB is pushing it. I'm simply making the point that the upcoming one does support ARM.

Hey, I'm tempted to use MSCONFIG and see how my 64-bit Windows 7 boots with onlu 256MB RAM on my current rig just for giggles. However, it won't boot, I'm in a bit of a catch 22, aren't I? lol
Nah just make sure you "create a system repair disc" by typing that into the start menu and the type "create a restore point" into the start menu which brings up "system properties" with the system protection tab already open and all you have to do is click create and name your restore point and if it doesn't start up, flip in the system repair disc you made and restore to the restore point you just created...

LOL
Posted on Reply
#24
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: jmcslob
Nah just make sure you "create a system repair disc" by typing that into the start menu and the type "create a restore point" into the start menu which brings up "system properties" with the system protection tab already open and all you have to do is click create and name your restore point and if it doesn't start up, flip in the system repair disc you made and restore to the restore point you just created...

LOL
Nice one, I'll give that a go. :toast:
Posted on Reply
#25
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: qubit
Oh, quite. Probably even 512MB is pushing it. I'm simply making the point that the upcoming one does support ARM.

Hey, I'm tempted to use MSCONFIG and see how my 64-bit Windows 7 boots with onlu 256MB RAM on my current rig just for giggles. However, it won't boot, I'm in a bit of a catch 22, aren't I? lol
http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/showthread.php?t=108777

I got it down to 160MB of RAM booting just fine. However, it won't install with anything less than 512MB in the system, the installer requires that much space to load itself into memory.
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