Retro Future Electrics

A page about retro electronics, from the introduction of electricity until 1970-something. We refit old gadgets with new tech, and wonder at the makers who came before us.

Raspberry Pi 3 vs Pine64 (and Pi 2)

The most popular page this site ever posted was the comparison of the Pi 2 and the Pine64. A lot of people rightly criticized the post for not comparing the Pi 3, which is also 64 bits. Since then I have got a Pi 3 in the RFE headquarters and have put it thru some tests!

 

General setup: I used the most recent downloads for each of the boards. On the Pis that means the following:

 

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ uname -a

Linux raspberrypi 4.4.9-v7+ #884 SMP Fri May 6 17:28:59 BST 2016 armv7l GNU/Linux

I didn’t even create a new user! so that this would be a fair, stock comparison.

On the pine64:

Linux pine64 3.10.65-7-pine64-longsleep #28 SMP PREEMPT Sat Apr 23 20:13:25 CEST 2016 aarch64 aarch64 aarch64 GNU/Linux

Pine64 does use a bit of an older kernel, as they are developing for an older LTS ubuntu.

Networking:

For the networking test I used iperf, connected thru a dumb 1G switch, to a modern iMac with 1G ethernet. I did a simple iperf -s on the server, and an iperf -c Server.IP on the clients. I then ran three tests with all the machines unloaded. In addition the pi3 contains a built in wireless chip! A big bonus. It quickly confiugred via the instructions located here: Raspberry Pi 3 Wifi Configuration. I connected it to my asus wifi router at a distance of about 0.5 meters.

Pi 3 wired: 94.2 Mbit/sec

Pi 3 wireless: 44.8 Mbit/sec

Pi 2: 94.1 Mbit/sec

Pine64: 886 Mbit/sec

This is where the Pine64 stands out, really the only stat in all the tests where there was an “oh my gosh that’s different” difference. The Pine64’s hardware gigabit ethernet port beats the pi’s by almost an order of magnitude (9.4x faster for those pedants) .  These results bear out my antidotal evidence reported in my first comparison of just the Pi2 and Pine64. Running Arduino over X-windows was much faster, and it makes sense as sending graphics over the network is network heavy.

CPU Speed:

For this I uses sysbench with the following command:

sysbench –test=cpu –num-threads=4 –cpu-max-prime=20000 run

The results were (lower times are better)

Pi3: 121.31 seconds

Pi2: 172.44 seconds

Pine64: 7.98 seconds

This is a shocking test. The Pine64 scores 7 seconds, while the Pi3 gets 121? It really makes me think that the downloaded version for raspian isn’t 64bit compiled. This is a 64 bit test, which means you would expect to see a 64bit processor blow away a 32 bit processor (for a 32bit processor to do 64bit math, it has to break it into parts, which normally take 10-20 times as long). I would really expect the Pi3 to be closer to the pine64 in this test.

In more general purpose tests both the Pine64 and Pi3 were about 20-40% faster than the pi2, which is expected because of the processor and speed bumps. I’ll update when I can find a 64 bit test that properly runs on the Pi3. You can search around the web for tons of pi3/pi2 comparisons and compare for yourself to my pine64 readings.

Conclusion:

All three boards are capable single board computers. Similar to my previous comparisons, the Pi3 has a huge improvement of the Pi2 in 64 bit math, a small bump in general purpose use. The Pine64 is a similar speed to the Pi3 in everything except networking, where it blows it away. If you’re primary use for the board requires high bandwidth (Network storage, web serving(although all the boards might bog down serving over 100Mbit a sec), or X-windows, I would go with the Pine64. Otherwise it’s a toss-up. The Pi’s are a little more expensive, but they have an enormous maker community behind them for help and support building almost anything.

Pine 64 Pros:

  • Cheaper, faster than Pi2 by ~10%
  • Much faster networking support
  • 4k video support
  • additional GPIO pins for expandability/making

Pi3 Pros:

  • Faster than Pi2 about, about the same speed as pine 64
  • Built-in decent WiFi (Saves $10 and a USB port!)
  • 64 bit math support (x10 speed increase in pure 64bit math over pi2)
  • bigger support community
  • 4 USB ports vs 2 on the Pine

Pi2 Pros: 

  • Should be cheap now that it’s “last gen”
  • slightly lower power than Pi3
    • although neither of these boards is good for ultra low power or battery use, something like the Pi Zero is where you should look.

In short it’s hard to recommend the Pi2 now for anything, the Pi3 is better in every way except power (and not that bad there) and the price is probably similar. The Pi3 also keeps the now famous and de-facto standard pinout (which the Pine64 copies) for GPIO accessories. If you project requires fast networking or the lowest price (again stay away from the non-supported and now malware hosting OrangePi) the pine64 is your clear choice, otherwise whatever makes you most comfortable.

Additional Tests:

If you have any additional tests you’d like me to run, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to run them within 48 hours. Please be specific, tell me the program, how to apt-get it (or where to download it) and the command line you’d like run.

Plugs:

If you’ve enjoyed this article, consider helping out the site buy purchasing your devices with the below amazon links, I get a few %, it costs nothing more to you, and you can know you’re helping a maker buy more things to test and share. Everything below here is an ad, but they are hand picked and  linked by me.

Raspberry Pi 3 at Amazon with free Prime Shipping:

Bel Aire Case for Pi 2 and 3:

Pine 64 Case (reviewed by me on this blog here):