Author Topic: Raspberry Pi  (Read 2722 times)

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Offline Avan

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Raspberry Pi
« on: June 27, 2012, 03:23:44 am »
So who else ordered one/has one in the mail/got one? Furtopia itself is running on one now, if you hadn't heard, and I've got one in the mail right now.

What are you planning on doing with yours?

I'm planning with derping around with some devwork as well as using it as a ZNC server - eventually planning on getting some more once they are significantly less backlogged and wiring them up with microcontrollers and using those in some various hardware development projects I've been wanting to mess around with for some time.
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Offline Weisseman

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2012, 03:34:07 am »
Got mine Friday. Going to use it as a 2nd IRC node. Quite interested in the camera they've been testing. Could well make a good IP camera.
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Offline Storm Fox

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2012, 05:21:27 am »
I'm not a fan, and I really think it's kind of a gimmick to catch the eye's of tech headsÖ {New tiny gadget that does stuff, IÖ mustÖ haveÖ oneÖ}

And mind you, my stance is not with out reason, here are just a few things that irk me a bitÖ

The Raspberry Pi uses an ARM processor with a clock speed of 700Mhz, which is roughly equivalent to the integer computation of a 250MHz x86 processor (← approximated figure).

For example, an ARM1176JZF-S has around 1.25 DMIPS/Mhz (875 DMIPS @700MHz)
While an Intel Pentium III has about 3.42 DMIPS/Mhz (2,394 DMIPS @ 700MHz)

Another thing is the storageÖ
Using an SD card as storage for a PC type environment is not reliable for long term use, not to mention that it is one of the slowest and most limited forms of solid state memory with the exception of the mini and micro SD cards.
Some of the fastest SD memory cards (600x), can only transfer at up to 90 MB/s, which is a fraction of the speed of a standard hard drive.
And thatís not to mention the lack of the transfer cache that you would normally have with a proper hard drive, which will make multiple writes an issue and contribute to even lower speeds and performance.
And all of that does not include the fact that SD cards have a limit to how many times a data block can be written to.
If I remember correctly, the general estimate is around a few thousand writes to a given block, which will last years for a camera or a phone.
But for a home computer or a web serverÖ I just canít imagine that being very reliable in the long run, or even just a few months.
I know that these issues have been improved upon a bit over the years, but they are still relevant issues, and the tiny wires and connections inside the card can be damaged over time.
And more so, SD cards can over heat under constant use, such as in a PC type environment where files are repeatedly edited and re-written, like cache and swap files for example.

The only alternative to using the SD all the time with the R-Pi, is to use the SD to boot, and a USB connected hard drive for the main system, which will be limited as the drive is bottlenecked through a USB interface.

Putting a sata port on this thing would have been so much better, and if it absolutely needs to be a memory card for some reason, a CF card would have been a far better choice over the SD card.

And finally, there's the V-ramÖ

The R-Pi's GPU uses shared memory, 128 MB worth, and thatís out of 256 MB of total RAM.
So you wonít have 256 MB of RAM available to you as advertised, but only 128 MB.
(Wonders how hard it would have been to put a proper so-dimm on the back side).

Basically, all these things combined make itís uses a bit limited, and it lacks most anything that would be of any use to me.

I guess it could make an interesting diagnostic tool, something for an automated process controller, or maybe even robotic applications.

But regardless, the lack of adaptability, and features that I would want / need, makes this one a NO for me.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2012, 05:26:43 am by Storm Fox »
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Offline Avan

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2012, 10:45:56 am »
Its not a gimmick; it was designed for educational use; its just that its publicly for sale, and thus it sees a lot more potential use profiles beyond just providing schools with a cheap and simple computer that they can use.

Do note that perf/Hz varies incredibly by architecture, to the point that I'd rather software manufacturers give models or actual throughput stats than say "2Ghz processor" which is utterly useless to me.

Sure, I could haul one of my ancient computers over here to do that sort of stuff (that I'd be using the first for; the later ones, not a chance), I mean I've got tons, but really, there is a reason I haven't done so already. The wattage is much less, it takes virtually no space (so I could just stick it behind the printer), it requires trivial cooling requirements (no fans, not even a heatsink required) - thus no annoying little 40mm fan buzzing away at all hours of the day, and its probably going to have a higher MTBF left than any of the old ones do, even the ones barely used before I got them. Even the pico-ITX x86 systems are stupidly expensive by comparison, and still tend to have massive heatsinks.

They've also significantly improved the number of writes you can get per block on an SD card over the past few years, so I doubt that is an issue anymore, especially when the system is used in cases where it won't be needing swap, and will only be writing a small quantity of data, if any at all, meaning you wouldn't need to worry about running out of room & having to delete things.

edit:
Cheapest Pico ITX board I could find for $300 at one store (other stores were even more expensive), http://resources.e-itx.com/axiomtek-pico821/pico821.pdf - note the larger thermal dissipation and thus the need for a heatsink which covers most of the top of the board. Sure, it'd probably get better raw perf on an OS of equal optimization, but sending pings and maintaining logs of two low-traffic IRC channels is not going to really require that much perf to begin with.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2012, 11:07:27 am by Avan »
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Offline Storm Fox

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2012, 02:56:46 pm »
Do note that perf/Hz varies incredibly by architecture, to the point that I'd rather software manufacturers give models or actual throughput stats than say "2Ghz processor" which is utterly useless to me.
I realize that it varies, but I wasn't referencing a difference in frequency, but a difference in instruction processes, and that while the Raspberry Pi's clock rate is comparable to that of a mid range Pentium III, it's misleading to most people as it's instruction processes are more comparable to an early Pentium II.
And that's something you probably won't read about on their website. 

They've also significantly improved the number of writes you can get per block on an SD card over the past few years, so I doubt that is an issue anymore, especially when the system is used in cases where it won't be needing swap, and will only be writing a small quantity of data, if any at all, meaning you wouldn't need to worry about running out of room & having to delete things.
Maybe, but all I know is that my MP3 player likes to eat SD cards.
I put songs on the card, and over time, it gets slower and slower to read the songs, then some songs stop playing, or disappear all together, (and mind you, once the songs are on the card, it's read only from there on out, yet the card still ages).
Similar things happen with the cards that I use in my cameras as well, though on a longer time scale.
Either way, it's enough for me to consider such cards as consumables, like how batteries are.
The only exception that I've noticed so far is with CF cards, I use them more than the SD's, and I've yet to have a problem with them.

edit:
Cheapest Pico ITX board I could find for $300 at one store (other stores were even more expensive), http://resources.e-itx.com/axiomtek-pico821/pico821.pdf - note the larger thermal dissipation and thus the need for a heatsink which covers most of the top of the board. Sure, it'd probably get better raw perf on an OS of equal optimization, but sending pings and maintaining logs of two low-traffic IRC channels is not going to really require that much perf to begin with.
If I did go for the minimalist approach, something like this would be more up my alley → [Intel D2500HN Mini-ITX with an Intel Atom D2500 1.86GHz Dual Core for $69.00].
And itís [$240.00 ready to run with 2GB DDR3 and a 160GB hdd].

It's still very minimal as far as I'm concerned, but I can do a lot with something like that.
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Offline Avan

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2012, 09:49:57 pm »
Right; which is why I go after measuring raw capabilities (Perf).

---

I have only ever lost one flash memory based device to actual failure; the others that were lost were literally lost; I misplaced them.  :P - I use my phones as MP3 players, and they use the micro SD cards, but I have yet to encounter this problem.

---

$240.00 is still nearly 10x as much as $25.00, the price of the model A (no Ethernet, targeted at schools) - not to mention the form-factor is significantly bigger.
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Offline Storm Fox

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2012, 02:11:27 pm »
$240.00 is still nearly 10x as much as $25.00, the price of the model A (no Ethernet, targeted at schools) - not to mention the form-factor is significantly bigger.
Yes, but thatís just what I would prefer, (for myself), as I would rather have something that can be modded and upgraded with standard parts, or parts that are easy to get.
(*Whispers* guess what, I donĎt like Apple products very much either.) ;)

Also, the price is kind of irrelevant, because the more features you take away, the lower the cost will be, and that's true for most anything.
Add a hdd and a power supply to your Raspberry Pi, and a $25 computer becomes a $105 computer. ($65 hdd, $15 psu).
And since the Raspberry Pi may not be able to power the hdd through USB, a sata power adapter may be needed, so add another $15, for a total of $120. :o

As for form-factor, IĎm going to have a proper hdd or ssd on any computer I build, so since the casing size will need to be big enough to hold at least one, having the main board so small serves little or no purpose for me, as the case will hold a larger board anyways.
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Offline Avan

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2012, 11:35:49 pm »
My point was being that you're comparing two things that are too much not alike. Sure, I could say that an i7 kicks the pants off of an atom, but... that's hardly a fair comparison given that they aren't anywhere close to the same use profile. While the difference here isn't quite as extreme, the point still stands.

Sure a full range+oven is going to be quite a bit more expensive, powerful, and versatile in comparison to say, a toaster, but they aren't meant to do the same things from the outset. The toaster isn't going to be bad because it can't make omelets; it would be bad if it couldn't make good toast.

Why would you add a PSU to the pi? For the harddrive? You can get a nicely sized external/portable external for ~50USD if you know when and where to look. And why would you need a Sata power adapter? That... doesn't even make sense. If you get a modern PSU without a Sata power cable, its a worthless piece of junk that is likely an ancient 1990's era 100-200W PSU that is liable to blow up even under that load because the people who make those nowadays cut so many corners it went all the way from not funny to hilarious to not funny again. And any external harddrive that needs it will have a separate power cable.

Don't get me wrong; I do realize that you don't want it because its use profile isn't for you, but the whole comparison thing you are trying to do just doesn't make sense in this context. Its like you're trying to use that toaster to make spaghetti or bake pies or something; in such a context, you generally just say 'the toaster doesn't make spaghetti, thus it doesn't work for me', and not go into a technical discussion of why the toaster is not able to make spaghetti.
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Offline Dusty

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2012, 06:38:22 am »
I too think it is pretty gimmicky - if it's what you're after you can buy second hand servers that are only a few years old for less than $50, in my experience. Of course the Raspberry Pi is smaller, less power hungry and is a bit more fashionable than having a jet engine rack server laying on the floor of your room, but whatever. I'll probably end up getting one but I do not trust at all a device which uses an SD card for primary storage, especially if I'd be doing something important on it. Sounds like a recipe for disaster when you've got no data redundancy whatsoever.

Offline Weisseman

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2012, 11:53:11 am »
Raspberry Pi was not designed to be a Server replacement. It was designed to introduce kids to programming. But in typical fashion it's being used to see what it can do by experienced people. It just so happens that the Pi can be used for a server and those that like it will build around it to increase performance in this area.

It's only just been released so a lot of issues will crop up as it's put through it's paces but I can see them being ironed out.
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Offline Storm Fox

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2012, 12:05:00 pm »
Why would you add a PSU to the pi? For the harddrive? You can get a nicely sized external/portable external for ~50USD if you know when and where to look. And why would you need a Sata power adapter? That... doesn't even make sense. If you get a modern PSU without a Sata power cable, its a worthless piece of junk that is likely an ancient 1990's era 100-200W PSU that is liable to blow up even under that load because the people who make those nowadays cut so many corners it went all the way from not funny to hilarious to not funny again. And any external harddrive that needs it will have a separate power cable.
I think youíre misunderstanding me when I use the term PSU, itís a general term, and it doesnít necessarily mean the power supply is some multi-hundred watt metal box.

The Raspberry Piís ďPSUĒ is some AC to DC 5V USB adapter, I think itís around $15.
And there are a lot of computers, (namely laptops), that donít supply enough current through USB to support a hdd, and I figure that the Raspberry Pi is no different.
And in the case of these hard drives, whether in an external casing or not, would require power support, (connected to the drive, not the computer), which is an AC to DC adapter that has a sata power adapter for internal drives, or a power jack for the power input on an external case.
Doing this makes sure that the USB controller(s) donít get fried by going over current, and is the proper way to run a hdd on computers that don't supply enough current.


My point was being that you're comparing two things that are too much not alike. Sure, I could say that an i7 kicks the pants off of an atom, but... that's hardly a fair comparison given that they aren't anywhere close to the same use profile. While the difference here isn't quite as extreme, the point still stands.

Sure a full range+oven is going to be quite a bit more expensive, powerful, and versatile in comparison to say, a toaster, but they aren't meant to do the same things from the outset. The toaster isn't going to be bad because it can't make omelets; it would be bad if it couldn't make good toast.
Don't get me wrong; I do realize that you don't want it because its use profile isn't for you, but the whole comparison thing you are trying to do just doesn't make sense in this context. Its like you're trying to use that toaster to make spaghetti or bake pies or something; in such a context, you generally just say 'the toaster doesn't make spaghetti, thus it doesn't work for me', and not go into a technical discussion of why the toaster is not able to make spaghetti.
Well maybe, maybe not, The Raspberry Pi is advertised as a computer, not a server, a router, or anything else.
Mind you I realize that computer is a general term, and what I mentioned are all computers in one form or another.
But on the website, itís advertised like a mini PC, so my comparison is to that of a PC.

Honestly, the Raspberry Pi is an interesting little gadget, but as a PC, Öit just seems excessively limited.

Though in any case, to each their own.
After all, Iím not here to denounce anyone or anything, Iím just mentioning my thoughts and opinions on the matter.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2012, 01:43:16 pm by Storm Fox »
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Offline Dusty

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2012, 12:30:33 pm »
Raspberry Pi was not designed to be a Server replacement. It was designed to introduce kids to programming. But in typical fashion it's being used to see what it can do by experienced people. It just so happens that the Pi can be used for a server and those that like it will build around it to increase performance in this area.

It's only just been released so a lot of issues will crop up as it's put through it's paces but I can see them being ironed out.

I understand that it is meant to be a toy, more or less. I just don't really think that it is the sort of thing that is suited to a 'serious' environment (not that I want to have a go at anyone who wants to try it out in such a way - experimenting is always good).
« Last Edit: June 29, 2012, 12:58:22 pm by Dusty »

Offline WhiteShepherd

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2012, 02:09:30 am »
Benchmarks are poor tools at best.  Different processors do better or worse depending on what they are processing.  But also you make it sound like it can't do "anything" serious because it's not the exact same as a equal MZh x86.  When you are comparing the speed of a computer you really need to compare it to the application.  If the computer runs a application quickly (say a word processor or web server) then the rest of the spare cpu cycles are wasted and the computer is plenty fast enough to do the task at hand.  Putting the same task on a quad core cpu with 64GB of ram will mainly have the computer waiting longer. 

The advantage is the pi is that it is a micro computer.  Aside from low space and being quiet the big deal is power which compared to a desktop system can save you a LOT of money each month for a system that runs 24/7.  The system though not as fast as a top end PC is plenty fast enough to run several internet services at once under a decent load.  That doesn't make it the "fastest ever" but it makes it very suitable for this task.

The SD card for me is the biggest question.  I do worry about the limited writes.  However the beta testing has shown very positive results on SD longevity.  Data on our database is most of the time written once  and new data (like expanding mysql message message base) takes up new blocks.  Temp writes are written to RAM.  I use Sandisk for a long lasting SD card.  In "theory" it should last a very long time but this has not been done before so we won't know till later.  However I can replace a faulty SD card for $15 which makes replacement simple.  As far as not having any redundancy a daily rsync does a decent job for SDs as well as hard drives.

I do have my old server turned off and on standby because this is a new test of hardware and application.  But the Raspberry Pi so far shows all the signs of being a VERY good server that could replace many (of course not in all situations) desktop servers saving businesses a LOT of money in utility savings. 

As far as the memory you are wrong.  You do get the full 256 minus several MB for video.  I have been tracking memory used very closely as I layer more and more servers onto the same pi for testing. ;)

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Offline Storm Fox

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2012, 07:45:42 pm »
As far as the memory you are wrong.  You do get the full 256 minus several MB for video.  I have been tracking memory used very closely as I layer more and more servers onto the same pi for testing. ;)

  WhiteShepherd
Iím not sure which website I read that on, so I rechecked the handful of sites that I got my info from in order to quote what I read, but the text has either been removed or changed, (or it was on a site that I didn't bookmark).

Since you actually have the computer and I donít, Iíll just take your word for it on that part.
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Offline Avan

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2012, 11:39:41 am »
Benchmarks are poor tools at best.
Not if you are testing for performance in the specific tasks you need (using the application in question is generally the best indicator)
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Offline WhiteShepherd

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Re: Raspberry Pi
« Reply #15 on: July 04, 2012, 11:58:07 pm »
My point exactly.  A benchmark "loop" program often does not reflect many applications performance.

The key with performance on the Pi is not to go over available memory.  If you do you will be a sad panda.  Otherwise it's quite quick.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6oqTmpxdY4   <-- A really good review (about half way into the show) that discusses some pros as well as cons of the Raspberry Pi.
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