Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone microcontroller boards

The Arduino popularized the use of microcontrollers by (almost) everyone with an easy to

English: Extract from Raspberry Pi board at Tr...

English: Extract from Raspberry Pi board at TransferSummit 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

use software development system and relatively simple hardware design features. While inexpensive, it is a low end controller board (20 Mhz to 80 Mhz clock speeds) but with plenty of analogy and digital i/o pins.

Since then, newer, faster boards have become available from others including the Raspberry Pi and the BeagleBone Black boards.

The Raspberry Pi features a 700 Mhz processor, 512 MB RAM and a GPU that can decode 1080p30 h.264 video streams, HDMI output, Ethernet and USB ports and 8 digital i/o pins.

The BeagleBone runs a 1 Ghz clock speed processor and is similar but has 63 digital i/o pins. Both support flavors of HD video although only the Raspberry Pi supports up to 1920×1080.

Both of these are quite a bit more powerful than Arduino boards and can be programmed in most any programming language including Java, C, C++, Python, Perl, etc since you can install Linux on the boards. Obviously, these high end boards target a different need than the Arduino.

A comparison of the Arduino, Raspberry Pi and the  BeagleBone Black is here at MAKE.

You need an HDMI input TV or monitor (potentially with an HDMI to DVI converter); the Raspberry Pi also supports a composite video output.

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