Arduino vs Raspberry Pi: Which board is meant for you? [Beginner’s Guide]

Arduino vs Raspberry Pi

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Single-board computers have become quite popular in the past decades due to their ability to be used in the development and learning process for beginners. A single board computer is nothing but a single circuit board but works as a complete computer equipped with a microprocessor, a memory and input/output, along with multiple other features. Single board computers were initially used as demonstration and development systems for various industries. Contrasting to a standard desktop computer, single board computers are usually not dependent on expansion slots for expansion or basic functions.

Although there are a large number of single board computers available, Arduino and Raspberry Pi are two of the most popular devices. They have become quite popular among students and professionals alike, along with amateurs and hobbyists. Each board has its pros and cons and professionals know precisely when and where to use which board and when to switch to the other. But programmers who are just beginning to create projects often feel confused between the two, and usually stay indecisive on which board to learn and use for their projects.

Raspberry Pi

Although it is the size of a credit card, the Raspberry Pi (series) is a fully functional computer, as it has dedicated memory, graphics card, and a processor. The board can even run the Linux OS (specially designed version), and it is easy to install in most Linux software. The boards were developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to encourage basic computer science learning in schools, along with developing countries. Even though designed for just teaching, the boards have become popular more than predicted and have been used in high-end applications such as robotics.

Arduino

Arduino is a single board computer consisting of three major features. The first one being the Hardware prototype platform, the second is Arduino language and last but not the least Integrated Development Environment (IDE) & libraries. An Arduino board is more of a micro-controller rather than a full-fledged computer. An Arduino board cannot run an operating system, but the code can be written and executed as their permanent software program interprets it. The primary function of the Arduino board is to interface with secondary devices and sensors, which makes it ideal for projects which require minimal complexity and just function on the sensor or manual inputs.

Difference Between Arduino and Raspberry Pi

Both Arduino and Raspberry Pi have cemented their place in the single-board computer industry and are loved by millions around the globe. While their characteristics are different, along with their capabilities, it all comes down to which board will be perfect for your project. This article will discuss the features of Arduino and Raspberry Pi and draw a comparison between their most prominent characteristics to help you make a choice for the best possible single board computer for your projects. 

1. Learning Curve

As we have discussed earlier, Pi is much more of a computer and Arduino is essentially a doorway into the world of programming. On the whole, Arduino is much easier to learn as it has a much lower entry barrier. If you have little or no knowledge in computers and programming but wish to begin, Arduino is the right choice for you. Below is a speed tutorial for you to learn about Arduino.

 

On the other hand, people with a background of Unix or Linux computing can easily go with Raspberry Pi as it can easily be loaded with a special version of Linux explicitly created for Raspberry Pi hardware. Once the OS is installed, it is like working on any Linux machine.

2. Simplicity

The Arduino board is much simpler to use in comparison to Raspberry Pi. The Arduino board can easily be interfaced with analog sensors and other electronic components using only a few lines of code. Contrarily, there is much hassle for merely reading the inputs from sensors, as it requires the installation of multiple libraries and software to create an interface between the board and sensors and other electronic components. The coding in Arduino is also easier than Raspberry Pi, the latter requiring knowledge of Linux and its commands. 

3. Available Programming Languages

The Raspberry Pi single board computer was designed with the idea to encourage youngsters to join the field of programming. The Pi in Raspberry Pi comes from the Python language, which denotes its use in the computer. Although Raspberry Pi has adopted a number of programming languages in the short time it has been around, due to which it has become the primary choice for a vast group of programmers. Some of the languages that are available for use in Raspberry Pi are Scratch, Python, HTML 5, JavaScript, JQuery, Java, C, C++, Perl, and Erlang.

In the case of Arduino, you will meet Arduino IDE—a cross-platform UI used to write and upload programs to the board. It is written in programming language Java and helps anyone begin Arduino programming rather easily. But in high-end projects, the Arduino IDE acts as a limit on what can be done. If you do not wish to use the IDE, you can code the Arduino using the C++ language.

There are many other tools available for beginners and professionals to use while programming in Arduino. One such tool is ArduBlock, which helps beginners with none to minimal programming experience visualize their code rather than type it, helping them understand the logic. Another visual based tool is Snap4Arduino, which focuses less on programming but more on helping the user understand how it works, as it is built for slightly older audiences. Other languages which can be used directly or indirectly through external communicators are C# and Python.

4. Networking Capabilities

The networking capabilities of Raspberry outpace those of Arduino by a fair distance. The Raspberry Pi 3 has Bluetooth and Wireless connection capability. It can also connect to the Internet using Ethernet. The board comes with 1 HDMI port, 4 USB ports, one camera port, 1 Micro USB port, 1 LCD port, and 1 DSI display port, which makes it ideal for a variety of applications. On the other hand, though, Arduino ports are not built for network connectivity directly. Even though it is possible, it will require an additional chip fitted with an Ethernet port, which will require further wiring and coding.

5. Processor Speed

The difference in processor speed between Raspberry Pi and Arduino is quite clear and vast, which is due to the fact that the former is a fully operational computer while other is a microprocessor. Comparing the clock speed of Arduino Uno board and Raspberry Pi Model B board, we see the values 16 MHz and 700 MHz respectively. Therefore, the Raspberry device is 40 times faster than the Arduino board. Moreover, the Pi board has a staggering 128,000 times more RAM than the Arduino board, which has a RAM of 0.002 MB.

One important thing to remember is that Arduino is just a plug and play device and can be turned ON and OFF at any time without any damage. But the Raspberry Pi runs on an operating system and is a full computer in itself, which requires a proper shutdown before power is withdrawn. Improper shutdown(s) of Raspberry Pi might damage the board, corrupt the applications and may even affect the processor speed.

6. Input/ Output (I/O) Pins

The I/O pins on your single board computer are what allow it to talk to other devices connected to it. For example, if you wish to activate a motor or light up an LED using your single board computer, you need these I/O pins to perform these tasks. The Raspberry Pi (Model 2) has 17 I/O pins to offer, while the Arduino (Uno) board packs 20 pins.

Another critical thing to note is the temporal resolution at which the board can control these pins. As the Raspberry Pi is a full computer, its CPU might be hogged up by multiple other tasks, which can cause difficulty in getting the control timing to a minimal. In the case of Arduino however, the input can be monitored to a minimum value of time to change the output to the desired level.

7. Power Consumption

Due to its powerful (comparatively) processor, the Pi board requires a continuous 5V power supply and may or may not run ideally when powered using batteries. But the Arduino can run seamlessly with a battery pack, due to its low power requirements. Although, the power consumption may vary as the number of connected devices increase.

8. Storage

The basic Arduino board comes with 32 KB storage to store the code, which provides the boards with instructions. This is just enough as the storage will not be used for applications, videos and photos. The Pi, however, does not come with any storage, but it supports a micro SD port which allows the user to add as much as storage they like.

9. Availability and Popularity

Both Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards have garnered acclaim from a large number of people from around the world. Due to such high popularity, Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards are readily available for purchase. In comparison, the Arduino is way cheaper than the Raspberry Pi boards due to limited capabilities. The Arduino boards are generally $20 and above depending on the version, whereas the Pi board will cost you around $35 and above depending on the version. The cost might increase with high-end boards. Here is global interest in Arduino vs Raspberry Pi on Google Trends:

Arduino vs Raspberry in Robotics and IoT

Choosing the correct single board system for your project is very important, as it will determine how fast and efficiently your task is completed. While both the Arduino and Raspberry Pi board have a set of pros and cons, choosing the correct board will depend entirely on your requirements.

For instance, if your task is to read sensor data and react to it in real time, an Arduino board will suit you more than a Raspberry Pi. This is due to its low power requirement and low maintenance. Arduino is ideal for projects which need to run continuously with little or negligible interaction and reaction. An excellent example of such a task would be recording the temperature outside and flashing it on a screen. Arduino boards are perfect for beginners who are just starting and are not attempting any high-end projects.

On the other hand, Raspberry Pi should be used for projects which are more complicated than the example mentioned above. The Pi board should be used when a number of tasks need to be performed at the same time, and some or all of them are complicated. For example, if your project is recording the temperature of a particular area, analyzing the temperature trends of the past weeks and forecasting the weather for the next few days, along with deciding if the weather will be optimal for irrigation, then a Raspberry Pi board is what you need. Simply put, the Raspberry Pi board is for professionals who are building a complex and robust project which requires the capability to perform multiple tasks at once, a feature lacked by the Arduino.

Overview

Device ArduinoRaspberry Pi
FamilyAlf-Egil Bogen Vegard Wollan RISC microcontroller (AVR)Advanced RISC Machines (ARM)
Memory (RAM)0.002 MB (Uno)512 MB (Model B)
Clock Speed16 MHz700 MHz
Operating SystemNoneLinux Distributions
I/O Pins2017
Storage32 kb storageNo onboard storage (SD card port)
USB PortsNone4
Languages UsedC/C++Python, HTML 5 and JavaScript 

Conclusion

Raspberry Pi and Arduino showcase some sparkling differences, which are both subtle and significant. Both boards have a considerably long list of pros and cons, but they will fit perfectly if the requirement is right. But no matter how different they may seem, there exists a scenario where they can work together to help maximize the output of the project. You can compare the Arduino board to the spinal cord of the body, which makes small-scale decisions such as lighting an LED or taking the temperature of a liquid, while the Raspberry Pi board is the brain, which takes the complex decisions, such as analysis of the past values and predicting the future values.

In the end, as we have discussed, the Arduino board is ideal for you if you are a beginner and wish to learn about electronics or someone who hails from an electronics background and wishes to take up simple projects. Raspberry Pi is perfect for you if you have Linux knowledge and want to build upon it by creating complex networking electronic projects.

Whichever board you choose, Hackr.io has community-curated tutorials and courses for both Arduino and Raspberry Pi:

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