Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Move over, raspberry

In Hardware, Linux on Jun 4, 2013 at 00:01

The Raspberry_Pi is a great little board at an amazing little price. But as mentioned yesterday, it’s not very fast as a server. I suspect that a lot of it has to do with the SD card interface and the SD card itself, so I started looking around for alternatives.

And boy, there sure are lots of ’em – still well below €100. I’ll single out one system, the Odroid U2 – knowing full well that there must be over a dozen others out there:


It’s smaller than a Raspberry Pi, but it comes mounted on a “big” (6x6x6 cm) heat sink.

The specs are pretty impressive:

Screen Shot 2013-06-01 at 11.45.13

And the board is neat – the result of a huge mobile phone market driving size down:



Could this be used as central web / file / home automation server?

  1. You read my thoughts :) I noticed this thing a while ago, too.

    I currently have my own alert system running using Jeenodes with reed switches and PIRs as detectors, one Jeenode with an RFIDReader and another Jeenode with an ether card as a relay to an Odroid U2 running a Grails based alert server application. Far from finished, yet, but when the alert system is turned on using an authorized rfid tag and a window is opened my android based cell phone makes a lot of noise ;)

    It’s a lot of fun! :)

    I tried using a raspberry but it was too slow. The Odroid U2 is running debian, tomcat and my grails app and it rocks. No performance issues.

    Stay tuned for more :)

  2. Well, with no SATA port and ethernet connected via USB it will not be much of a file server. Given that you’re looking for low power consumption it might be a good choice for home automation. But then again the Raspberry Pi offers GPIO and this board doesn’t.

  3. There are certainly lots of choices. Things to consider apart from base hardware will be what community and support goes with the platform. BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi have huge communities and therefore lots of support. These other platforms less so, it will be interesting to see how software support – new kernels, drivers etc… goes. Popular chip sets will probably see ongoing support, but I predict a lot of orphans along the way side ;-)

  4. If you haven’t gotten one of these yet, get it. They are fast. Not just fast, ridiculously omg fast. You will be shocked. I have moved to odroid because my automation platform runs on ASP.NET MVC (mono) and it is the first arm platform that is fast enough to not feel slow.

  5. You guys must be running heavy stuff. I find the raspberrypi plenty fast enough ;-) I use twisted (it’s event loop integrates nicely with serial) and I find it’s fast and uses very little memory.

  6. I used Cubox for my central web / file / home automation server – GLAN and SATA.

  7. The system I’m eventually going to run everything on is a Guruplug, which currently works as my file/networking server because of its 2 gigabit ethernet ports, wifi and eSATA port. A lot of the slow feeling is due to the slow flash, but an external disk on eSATA speeds things up considerably.

    The problem with the Guruplug is support, getting a new kernel for it is a bitch. I also have a Pi which looks like it will be better supported, but it really is very slow.

    But, lots of toys to play with :)

  8. For my home automation system the raspberry is fast enough even with php apache and mysql running. ( I don,t use the graphical interface) All file storage is nfs-based to a (Solaris11.1)file server. So I don,t have any issues with the sd card performance. jeroenb@raspberrypi:~$ uptime 07:13:59 up 44 days, 15:16, 1 user, load average: 0.14, 0.15, 0.14

  9. If you want something capable of being a fileserver, buy a … fileserver. Something like the HP Microserver at ~£100 beats these noddy boards hands down. Especially once you start doing anything even remotely computationally intensive (even as light as SSH webproxying). It’s also man enough to run several VMs so you can make a logical split between fileserving, webserving etc.

  10. Hello

    A cute board with a lot of gpio, ethernet sata, 4GB of nand flash, 1GB of ram is the cubieboard

    More powerfull than the raspberry and with an ARM power consuption :)

  11. There are many options. I have been looking at the andriod tv sticks recently. A quad-core ARM is very attractive, but power consumption will be up from the 2.2W of the RPI.

    Dual-core RK3066 sticks have linux support. Those SoC are really fast. The Q-core version RF3188 does not have a linux distro yet. An interesting option is also the Q-core freescale: Zealz GK802 Freescale i.MX6 Quad Core Which can be found for 54 euro and can run linux.

    Finally, Some NUC’s idle under 10W, and future Haswell version will further reduce that. Then we are really talking processing power.

  12. Have a look at performance/power consumption, performance/price and performance/size comparisons of some small platforms at And have a look at

  13. My vote is still with the PI (or even PI’s) for automation, like housemon etc. I have a number of android boards like APC Rock, 8750, Wandboard Dual/Quad, ODROID-X etc and I have tracked them for about 18 months.

    [rant] Whilst they are ‘very’ capable (and majority now have gpio, i2c, spi etc) I find that just like the mobile phones in their lineage, they are stepping-stones for the manufacturers – their support and more importantly ‘longevity’ is seriously suspect. As example my 8750 is now almost unsupported by manufacturer, it arrived almost at same time as Model B PI’s, by contrast the PI ecosphere is massive. So, I have concluded if you want a ‘file-server’ buy a low power NAS with stable storage and backup, and if you want ‘processing units’ get some PI’s. If you want a games/media device, look at ‘Ouya’, as it can probably help with both or something similar. If you want a desktop, by a pc/mac/atx based device and switch it on when you need it. BTW: I have one of my PI’s connected to an old 8G SSD (usb interface) booting off SD, and whilst my pi disk i/o will never reach native SSD speeds (pi usb limited) its still more than fast enough for home automation (assuming you use a well designed automation controller). My only wish would be another USB Host on the PI, bandwidth separated from the ethernet etc, and perhaps another direct UART interface (or two). I would bet a sizeable chunk of money that the PI’B’ and its compatible progeny will be well supported in 2015, whilst with most of the above you’ll be squeezed to ‘upgrade’ to the latest 16-core derivatives running android 7.0 drawing more than 2Amps. [/rant]

  14. For a project I’m working on, I needed a small box with more oomph than the RPi, hence my choice to use this thing for it – now on order. Nowadays, I’m happy with anything that will run Node.js (which currently rules out MIPS), and have several RPi’s running here to doodle with.

    Longevity of these units doesn’t worry me that much – there’s new stuff coming out all the time anyway. As long as Debian or Ubuntu is available for ’em, switching over ought to be easy and quick. Atom boards would be great because they could run my current x86 VM’s, but for now ARM seems to be ahead in the game of small low-cost / low-power boards.

  15. I have an Odroid-U2 running here as “Homeserver” and am quite happy with it.

    You can decide between Linux, Android or some bootstrapped Debian on top of Android:

    If you want to setup a server, have a look at “Servers Ultimate”, together with the debiankit solution i got everything i can think of at the moment (DLNA,Subversion,NFS,FTP and SSH Server…)

    Measured power usage is about 2 Watt Idle and max. 6 Watt (playing some Android Games) for me with the Android+bootstrap Linux solution.

    I know all this is also possible with the cheaper Raspberry Pi, but the Odroid is a real alternative…

    As far as i know, you can connect via UART, GPIO is not possible. The Ethernet is 100 MBit max and connected internally via USB.

  16. There’s also the very interesting UDOO – their Kickstarter project is about to end (they’ve hugely exceeded their goal). The interesting bit is that it includes a dedicated Atmel ARM chip for physical interfacing and real-time stuff.

  17. maybe a little late but sure an alternative – –

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