Orange Pi is the new black
Looking for a new Raspberry Pi
So I decided to buy a new Raspberry Pi to use as a web server. I already have a Raspberry Pi 2, but I don’t want to use that as a server, because I am using it as a media center with OpenELEC and it works great. I initially wanted to get the Raspberry Pi 3.
But then I thought that it might be interesting to get something which I could perhaps use as part of a database or computing cluster later on, after buying a few more of those devices. It took me some time to decide which one to pick. I bought the Raspberry Pi 2 in June 2015 and back then I was not so up to date with single board computers, so I got the product that I’ve been hearing the most about at that time.
The Raspberry Pi 3 looked pretty good, but i decided to do some more research. I found that there are so many options now. Wikipedia has a nice comparison of current and past devices. CNX soft, an embedded systems website, also has some nice benchmarks of different development boards that I looked at. For building the cluster, I was interested in something having fast read/write storage, gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 or SATA or any combination of those, but which is also relatively cheap, in case I decide to get a few of them. So the first one I really liked was Odroid C2, because it has gigabit Ethernet and the possibility to get a module for eMMC. It also has twice as more RAM as the Pi 3 and a CPU clock speed of 2GHz compared to 1.2 GHz for the Pi (both quad core). The board is about 50 EUR and a 16GB eMMC is about 45 EUR so that would be 95 EUR in total.
Another cool board that attracted my attention was the UDOO X86, with some nice Intel processor options and lot of other features, which starts from 89 USD. Both the Odroid C2 and the UDOO seemed expensive to me at this point. Still on Kickstarter I decided to explore more campaigns on the same topic, so I found the PINE A64 board, which comes in three options, starting from 15 USD, which is pretty good. Only the two more advanced models have gigabit Ethernet, but they don’t have anything else than microSD for storage and no USB 3.0 or SATA interfaces for example. A cool board (octa-core, 2GB RAM, GbE, eMMC) that has SATA 2.0 interface is the Banana PI M3, which is 74 USD on Aliexpress. Also on Aliexpress, I found a producer called Orange Pi that had a few boards, with prices as low as 10 USD.
The Orange Pi Plus 2e
The single board computer I decided to buy in the end was the Orange Pi Plus 2e. For 35 USD you get both eMMC and GbE, and a nice 1.536GHz CPU and 2GB of RAM. I was a bit sceptical about the quality to be honest, but I decided to try, and I can say that I am happy. I had no problem with it in the short time that I have had it (2 weeks). Another reason to worry for me was that I would have trouble installing the operating system due to the relative lack of documentation, but I managed to set it up quite easily, as I will show you in my next posts.
Here is the box:
And here is the board itself:
I will continue to post different tutorials and prototype ideas on the Orange Pi or Raspberry Pi. For now, I think I will do some projects related to data analytics and visualization, distributed computing, web development and maybe sensors.