BeagleBone vs. Raspberry Pi: Choosing the right single-board computer

Learning to code with a single-board computer (SBC) can be one of the very first steps towards studying computer science at university or even a professional career in programming.

If you’re thinking about getting one soon, check out our handy guide below to discover the main differences between the BeagleBone and the Raspberry Pi, two popular choices for learners and teachers alike.

BeagleBone: What is it?

Built by BeagleBoard, BeagleBone is a miniature computer, around the size of a credit card. Even though you can use it as an ordinary computer by connecting a mouse, keyboard, and display, it’s more often used for exciting programming projects.

BeagleBone is only compatible with Linux operating systems, and the most popular versions to use are Angstrom and Debian. To make things happen with your BeagleBone, you can either use existing pre-developed programs, or you can build and design your own.

Why choose BeagleBone?

– The BeagleBone boasts multiple pins, and these can be conveniently controlled within programs.
– Despite its small size, BeagleBone is powerful and adaptable, allowing artists and inventors to kickstart pioneering projects at home.
– BeagleBone comes with 2GB onboard eMMC storage in addition to accepting MicroSD cards.
– In terms of GPIO capability, you’ll find an exceptional 65 pins onboard, enabling you to interface with a wide array of devices.
– Lastly, the BeagleBone also works straight out the box, allowing you to set up and start your projects within minutes.

Raspberry Pi: What is it?

Raspberry Pi is also a single-board computer. It’s also capable of doing everything you’d expect a desktop computer to be able to do, but it might be better suited for multimedia projects than the rival BeagleBone.

The Raspberry Pi has a much smaller list of potential interface options. It only has 8 GPIO pins, 1 UART interface, 1 SPI bus and 1 I2C bus. However, this shouldn’t be an issue if none of your projects require external interfacing.

Why choose Raspberry Pi?

– With its integrated Videocore graphics processor, the Raspberry Pi is capable of decoding high quality video streams, and it can even cope with running Minecraft.
– For audio connectivity, the Raspberry Pi offers both stereo over HDMI and from a 3.5mm jack, making it easier to use with headphones and small speakers.
– Raspberry Pi users have formed an online community to share projects and other learning ideas.
– For a graphical learning platform, Raspberry Pi would be more effective thanks to its superior video graphic capabilities.

The bottom line: Which SBC is best for me?

The BeagleBone handles higher processing speeds than its rival, and it’s also a much more reliable choice to make if you’ve not got time for tinkering.

Both of these innovative SBCs work seamlessly for internet-connected projects and diving into the world of Linux. If you still can’t decide which is best, why not try both?

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