It differs from a desktop PC in the first place in size: a single-board card fits in the palm of your hand, but inside it there are all the important components - memory, microprocessor, inputs and outputs for external connections. The most recognized among electronics engineers is the Raspberry Pi line, but this is not the only representative of the single-board family.
Most microcomputers are compatible with Linux operating systems; some are suitable for working with Android and Chrome OS. We’ll talk about the latter today.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of single board computers?
A single-board computer usually costs less than a desktop motherboard. Such a difference in price is due to the compact arrangement of the components and the fact that small printed circuit boards are used in their production.
Single-board is ready to work right out of the box, only the external memory and OS are missing. In addition, microcomputers have reduced power consumption compared to full-fledged PCs. But as regards power and speed, here single-board players definitely lose both to desktops and laptops: launching games of the Playstation 1 or Nintendo 64 level for a budget-level micro PC can be an impossible task.
Another disadvantage of microcomputers is their poor protection: to burn a single-board, one careless action is enough, therefore these devices are clearly not designed for crooked hands.
Single-payers are not upgradeable. For example, you cannot change the amount of RAM, put another CPU or GPU . Nevertheless, a microcomputer is an ideal tool for implementing electronic projects and all kinds of home-made products, ranging from retro gaming consoles to systems for controlling a home. The microcomputer can be used as an energy-efficient media system, home server and much more.
A significant plus of microcomputers is the GPIO connector, which is not available on desktops. GPIO allows you to directly interact with the connected device: you can connect external buttons, assign them any action, control the CNC machine or connect an additional shield to expand the functionality of the microcomputer. GPIO is of great importance in the development and prototyping of new devices, smart systems, educational and entertainment projects.
How to run Android or Chrome OS on a microcomputer?
To run Chrome OS or Android on a single board computer, you need two things: a compatible single board computer and an operating system image.
To run Chrome OS requires a lot of resources. Strong single boards like the Raspberry Pi 4 with 4 GB of RAM and a 1.5 GHz processor can handle it, but for others it will be too heavy. Alternatively, instead of Chrome OS, you can take the Chromium image. This is a lightweight open source OS that allows you to run Chrome OS features on low-power computers.
As for Android, this system has many versions for a variety of devices. For Raspberry Pi and Odroid, you can take the RTAndroid image. Phoenix OS and Remix OS are suitable for devices with x86-bit processor. For other micro PCs, such as Banana Pi, images can be downloaded from sites dedicated to Android and single-board computers.
Ready to create your first working microcomputer on Android or Chrome OS? Then it is time to get to know the best single board computers.
Raspberry pi 4
Price: from 5 637 rubles
Without a “raspberry”, not a single list of the best single-board computers is dispensed with. The Raspberry Pi 4 is the latest model in an extremely sought after line. She is recognizable and respected by electronic engineers around the world.
Raspberry Pi 4 is equipped with a modernized processor with a frequency of 1.5 GHz, 4 GB of RAM, HDMI and USB 3.0 outputs. There are rumors on the Internet about the imminent release of a version with 8 GB of RAM, but at the time of writing this material there is no evidence for these rumors.
Thanks to a decent supply of computing power, the fourth-generation Malinka is able to run Chrome OS. You can install Android on it through RTAndroid images. In addition, the device is capable of running alternative operating systems, including Raspbian, RetroPie or RecalBox.
Price: 8 690 rubles
Odroid N2 is one of the most powerful single board computers. It uses an Amlogic S922X SoC based on the ARM big.LITTLE architecture with four 1.8 GHz Cortex-A73 cores and two 1.9 GHz Cortex-A53 cores.
Depending on the modification, the computer can have up to 4 GB of RAM with a frequency of 1320 MHz, a Mali-G52 graphics accelerator, a microSD card slot and 4 USB 2.0 ports. The disadvantage of this device is the lack of built-in Wi-Fi. If you need a wireless connection when working with a computer, you will have to configure it through the adapter.
A huge number of distributions have been created for Odroid N2 - from Ubuntu to Kali Linux and Android. Despite the fact that Odroid N2 costs two processor cores less than the popular Odroid XU4 (which uses the 8-core Exynos 5422), the performance gain compensates for this difference.
UDOO x86 II
Price: from 13 000 rubles
Another Raspberry Pi alternative that you can use to run Android x86. Since this model uses an Intel processor, you can put an image of Windows 10 and other x86-bit systems on it, including Linux, Android, Yocto, and Chrome OS.
UDOO x86 II is available in two versions. The UDOO x86 II Ultra comes with a quad-core Intel Pentium N3710 2.56 GHz, an optional Intel Quark SE processor, 8 GB of DDR3 RAM and an Intel HD Graphics 405 graphics chip.
The alternative version of UDOO X86 II Advanced Plus is based on the quad-core Intel Celeron N3160 with a frequency of 2.24 GHz and Intel Quark SE. RAM 4 GB, its type is DDR3. The graphics processor is presented in the form of Intel HD Graphics 400. In terms of power, it is slightly inferior to what is in the Ultra.
Banana pi m3
Price: 6 990 rubles
Banana Pi M3 is a miniature computer with very good performance. With the Linux Debian distribution installed, it shows good results in a variety of performance tests, including John The Ripper password cracking tool, ray tracing, and Himeno and Smallpt benchmarks.
The presence of an eight-core Allwinner A83T processor (ARM Cortex-A7 core) with a frequency of 1.8 GHz and the PowerVR SGX544MP1 graphics processor allows you to run many distributions on the Banana Pi M3, such as Debian, Ubuntu and Raspbian. The dimensions of the M3 are the same as those of the older Banana Pi M1, and the performance jump is clearly on the face.
Price: 20 700 rubles
For the performance of the BeagleBoard-X15, the Sitara AM5728 processor is responsible, based on two ARM Cortex-A15 microcontrollers and four Cortex-M4 microcontrollers. Thanks to this, single-board has a decent level of performance. Its features include 4 GB eMMC memory, HDMI output, 157-pin GPIO, eSATA and two gigabit Ethernet ports.
There are many distributions suitable for running on the BeagleBoard-X15. These include Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Android, and Windows Embedded. Good technical equipment and wide software capabilities make BeagleBoard-X15 one of the best alternatives to Raspberry Pi models.
Price: 2 790 rubles
The composition of this micro PC includes a quad-core Cortex-A53 processor with a clock frequency of 1.5 GHz, a Mali-450 MP2 graphics accelerator, DDR3 RAM with a maximum capacity of 4 GB and a 40-pin GPIO.
The graphics capabilities are enough to handle 4K video at 60 FPS. ROCK64 can be called an inexpensive alternative to the Raspberry Pi 3, especially considering the fact that this micro PC has a 64-bit processor. The plus is that ROCK64 is able to work with various Linux distributions, as well as Android.
ASUS Tinker Board
Price: 7 325 rubles
The ASUS Tinker Board is based on the SoC Rockchip RK3288, and the GPIO pin layout is designed to be compatible with the Raspberry Pi. The computer is capable of working with 4K video, and its technical capabilities are supplemented by 2 GB of RAM and a gigabit Ethernet port.
Under the Asus Tinker Board, there are special Linux distributions, for example, Debian-based Tinker OS, as well as Armbian, Android and Flint OS.
Orange Pi 4B
Price: 6 990 rubles
Orange Pi 4B is an operational project that is capable of running Android, as well as Ubuntu and Debian distributions from the Linux family. The 4B model is very different from previous releases of Orange Pi. It uses the Rockchip RK3399 system-on-chip with a six-core cluster in the big.LITTLE configuration.
The device also contains a powerful graphics accelerator Mali-T860MP4, 4 GB of RAM LPDDR4, 16 GB of internal flash memory, 40-pin GPIO and a set of ports USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB Type-C . Since the graphics chip supports 4K at 60 FPS, the Orange Pi 4B can be a great option for creating a media center or console with retro games.
Best Single Board Computer for Android and Chrome OS
We will not deprive Raspberry Pi 4 of the title of the best microcomputer in terms of price / quality / community, but we note that the “raspberry” has plenty of alternatives that are also suitable for installing Android and Chrome OS. Alternative micro-PCs may contain additional functionality, which means they will find application in specific projects.
Nevertheless, the Raspberry Pi remains a favorite tool for developers and homemade. A huge selection of distributions, ready-made project ideas and free resources - these are the reasons for the incredible popularity of “raspberries”. Maybe the new NVIDIA Jetson Nano will replace the Raspberry Pi? In this article, we did not talk about the new microcomputer from NVIDIA, as well as about many others, but you can read about them on the Internet and get acquainted with customer reviews.
Source: www.makeuseof.com .