Saturday, November 24, 2012

Raspberry Pi vs MK802

There has been a ton on news in the open source world revolving around the Raspberry Pi. It was one of the first low cost, ARM computers to be targeted at the hobbyist and educational markets. I've owned a Raspberry Pi for many months now and while it does an alright job at playing media files and acting as a small server - for most computing tasks it simply didn't have enough resources available to be useful.

My dedicated x86 media PC I'd been using for some time died a few months back and I had been searching for a low cost replacement for the system - I finally found it in the ARM powered MK802 device.


I've been using the MK802 almost daily for close to a month now and it shocks me that this awesome device hasn't gotten more press in the FOSS world. I plan to write a formal review of the device in the next week, but for now I would like to simply do a comparison between the MK802 and the latest RPI Model B device:


MK802
Raspberry Model B
Processor
1.5ghz
1.0ghz
RAM
1 gig
512 meg
Internal Storage
4 gig
None
USB Ports
One
Two
Networking
Wireless
Wired
Video Out
HDMI Mini
HDMI, RCA
Audio Out
HDMI
HDMI, 3.5m
Storage
Micro SD
SDHC
Size
8.8 x 3.5 x 1.2 cm
8.560 cm × 5.4 cm
Cost+Shipping to US
38.50
43.33

In addition to having superior specs at a lower price point than the RPI Model B, the MK802 also included an HDMI mini to HDMI cord, power adapter, and the device is in a case by default instead of just being a raw board. Needless to say I am impressed with the little device. For those interested in picking up an MK802 I got mine from Amazon here.

~Jeff Hoogland

47 comments:

  1. But can it run a media centre like XBMC or MythTV (LinuxMCE is a *brilliant* distribution that turns MythTV into a *brilliant* MC, by the way)?

    Frankly, I don't see much use for it between hosting an IRC bot (we do this for our gaming group) and using it a media centre, unless we're talking about learning things like the ARM assembler language (which most are probably not interested in).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Didn't look up specs, so don't know how identical (except speed) they are, but it doesn't make sense that you compare the processors like that without further information. I currently have a 2.0GHz prrocessor, earlier had a 3.2GHz processor. So I went from a better to a worse processor? Doesn't make sense until I also give the information that the former is an i7 and the latter was a P4...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are both single core devices and while they are not identical chip types the Pi is notably slower than the MK802 at the same tasks.

      Delete
    2. You went from a 3.2GHz single core processor to a 2.0GHz multi core processor (likely 4 cores). As Jeff said, these are both single core processors.

      Delete
    3. I've got both the rPi and an MK802 and love them both. The MK802 is faster for most things I've tried but the Raspberry Pi does seem to have the edge with anything more GPU intensive. There's some benchmarks floating around that reflect this.

      Both computers have single core ARM processors but are different enough that they can't really be compared just on the CPU clock speed.

      Delete
  3. Consider also taking a look at the MK808, which has a dual-core 1.6Ghz processor. I bought mine for about $60, and it's fairly snappy. AnTuTu benchmarks rate it about the same as a Samsung GSII.

    ReplyDelete
  4. On my side - there is no good multimedia centre for Android that would match XBMC and its plugins. So we have to wait for XBMC port for Android or Pi is slower but winner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wait? It's been out since July.
      http://xbmc.org/theuni/2012/07/13/xbmc-for-android/

      Delete
    2. The MK802 comes with Android out of the box but there are several linux distros that can be installed.

      Delete
  5. I do own an mk808 myself, Would be sooooo great to have bodhi running on that, Any chance of that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going to be working on a Bodhi image for the MK802 - not sure how different the MK808 is from that off hand.

      Delete
  6. Well the biggest selling point for me for the raspberry pi is not JUST the price...it is 1) the fact that is designed from the ground up to allow both software and hardware hacking. 2) the fact that a huge community has already started behind it. That is why (at least in the UK) computers like the Spectrum out-sold higher spec computers like the BBC and the C64.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The MK802 uses the allwinner A10 SoC, and has no massive blob of firmware running on an obscure architecture that is doing all the work.

      We actually have working u-boot, kernel and even some binary user-space (but only userspace - nothing happening in the background!) drivers for the Mali (GPU) and for Cedar (Allwinner specific media decoding).

      I am still slaving away at a free Mali driver. -- libv

      Delete
  7. You should definitely check out the Cubieboard http://www.cubieboard.org
    Guts of the MK802 but in a "RasPi type" board form factor with extra ports, GPIO pins and all.
    There are builds of XBMC and VLC for the various ports of GNU/Linux on the AllWinner A10 [ The MK802's Processor ] that take advantage of the hardware decoding for better playback of media.
    There is also a very young [ 1-2 week ] old project for porting GNU/Linux to the MK808 and related devices http://www.slatedroid.com/topic/40717-ubuntu-linux-for-the-ug802
    They use a beefier processor than the MK802 but the company behind it are not very GNU/Linux Friendly
    Also, If anyone is interested, check out the pengpod http://www.indiegogo.com/pengpod, a project to bring desktop linux to tablets using the same processor as the MK802 [ Their "pengstick" product *is* an MK802 ]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pengpod is a bit hairy. This is just someone who found out about existing work being done on allwinner hw, and who decided to buy a load of standard devices from china. These standard devices are usually sold 50% more expensive than the chinese "originals", while they come with just android preinstalled. Some linux is installed at a premium, and the hw support will not be above or beyond what the linux-sunxi.org community can provide you.

      --libv

      Delete
  8. UG802 is also very good. There exist also MK802 III.
    http://tietsikka.blogspot.fi/2012/11/rikomagic-mk802-iii.html

    ReplyDelete
  9. If you like to connect to physical world, try Raspberry Pi, it has 26-pin GPIO,
    while MK802 has none.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cubieboard, olinuxino...

      Delete
    2. So basically different devices to the one compared to the Pi.

      Delete
    3. The devices he listed actually have the same physical specs as the MK802 (allwinner a10 board). I can't speak to their price point though.

      Delete
  10. What about the GPU? Why ommit that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Comparing GPUs is hairy at best. They both decode HD video so they are fairly equal.

      Delete
  11. Please note that the MK802 specification is incorrect (a.k.a. lying). The CPU runs at 1GHz and the GPS at 500 Mhz. This is translated into a processor speed of 1.5 Ghz...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you have a source for this?

      Even if it is true after having used both for a good deal of time, the MK802 is much snappier than the RPI at the same tasks.

      Delete
  12. Could we get an actual website for purchasing the MK802? Upon investigation of the referenced wikipedia article, there is no offer for a < $40 version. Only < $70 versions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008BFXOZE/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&smid=A2XYIDHW2C10EQ

      I agree with this post, this computer is amazing.

      Delete
  13. Have you run other OS's on it. Android is OK but it isn't as good for software as, say, Ubuntu. For example, Android pro Audio is very poor.
    Guy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It runs Ubuntu and other "real" Linux distributions.

      Delete
  14. It looks nice as a consumer device, but the raspberry pi was designed as a learning tool, not a consumer device, so this comparison is just silly.
    For the people that just want to use it with XBMC to watch movies and things like that it is perfect though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, silly comparison. In the UK when the BBC, Spectrum, Commodore, Amstrad and Oric machines were around, programming them was about squeezing as much as possible out of the hardware and being creative with the games and software being produced. The Pi is intended to provide a similar basis for learning, not for being a powerful sub-$50 media system.

      Delete
    2. I'm failing to see how it is a silly comparison. Aside from lacking a wired network connection this device allows for much of the same as the RPI, with more features, a better looking shell, and a lower price.

      Just because it is marketed as a media device doesn't make it useless for other purposes. These are both low cost, ARM PCs.

      Delete
    3. Seriously, its a silly comparison. its like comparing a laptop from a tablet or windows from linux. What i see in the review is more like one sided to me. Have you really look in the capabilities of the Raspberry pi. May i ask you the following question. Can i used the mk802 as a file server? Can it be use as a SSH tunnel gateway? can i attach a camera on it so that i can viewinside my house from my office?

      Again, the Raspberry pi is made for learning not for dedicated multimedia which is where MK802 was made for.

      Again a silly comparison. The title should be "Raspberry pi vs Mk802 as a media PC"

      Delete
    4. Your ignorance on the subject is what is silly.

      The MK802 can run dedicated Linux distros, on faster hardware, at a lower price point than the RPI.

      Just because the RPI marketed as a "learning tool" doesn't make it any different than what it is a - a low costed ARM PC. That is all it is - marketing. These devices are both low cost PCs that can perform the same functions.

      The difference? The MK802 is useful OOTB and the RPI isn't.

      Delete
    5. Jeff, I don't think you're completely wrong, but you do seem to be ignoring the GPIO aspect of the RPi.

      It may be possible to achieve something similar with the MK802 using a google IOIO addon or similar, but that would up the price.

      I would argue slightly with "MK802 is useful OOTB and the RPI isn't" to some extent. Yes, you have to make sure you have all the peripherals/connectors you'll need - this applies to both devices, but more so the Pi - but the RPi is a functioning Linux PC OOTB. According to the reviews I found on Amazon UK for the MK802, some people had a lot of reliability/usability issues and had to hack about a lot to get it working.

      I guess with more maturity in this market these devices will all be a bit more polished, but RPi already feels like it's there to me. Ultimately the community will need to be the big selling point for RPi as it has been with Arduino (vs clones).

      Delete
    6. Anonymous, you're babbling biased nonsense! If you want to be pedantic Android IS Linux with a proprietary Java-based window/desktop manager on top of it. Given root you can drop down to a shell and do all the Linux-y stuff your nerdy heart desires, including compiling with the full gcc tool chain, running ftp/smb/your-custom-protocol servers, etc.

      More to the point of the OP though, despite the RPi being meant as a learning/hacking tool, I dare say that the number of websites and blogs detailing how to load XBMC or other media servers on it, shoehorn in various remote control systems, and velcro/ziptie/superglue it to various sides of TVs or entertainment furniture greatly outnumber the sites telling you how to use its GPIO pins. IOW, it may have been meant as one thing but its overwhelming use in the nerd community is as a cheap media player. Besides, if hacking it what you want and you have an actual hardware application in mind one of the myriad atmega boards available will do it more cheaply and with more gpio pins and in a smaller form factor. Let's face it, while nerds like to think they're a breed apart in intelligence and imagination most of them are really just one rung up from a plebian consumer and are cheap to boot :D

      So Jeff's comparison was entirely valid and can only be faulted for not having been updated with the latest hardware and XMBC build info.

      Delete
  15. It runs Android which to be frank makes it pretty useless as a general purpose Linux box. You can bootstrap Debian but you'll lose the ability to use the OpenGL graphics drivers, this is because the userland OpenGL drivers are closed source and compiled against the Android BIONIC libc clone rather than glibc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RPI graphic drivers are just as closed source and there are folks working on the drivers for the A10 chipset.

      Delete
    2. At least the mali has a chance of becoming free, whereas the videocore will always have this massive blob of own RT-OS running everything for you behind your back. --libv

      Delete
  16. thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'd love to see a dozen or so of either/both devices in a cluster, especially an SSI cluster.

    ReplyDelete
  18. You forget to mention also that the RPi is an ARM11 (ARMv6) core, which is the past generation of ARM and has it's limitations compared to ARMv7. The MK802 is an ARMv7 device (ARM Cortex-A8) which is much more powerful already not including the 500MHz bump.

    Not to mention that most of the resources of the Broadcom chip on the RPi is locked out by NDA/general unavailability of information from Broadcom; it's actually a completely awful choice for a hobbyist and I still can't understand why people are dumping themselves over the damn thing.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is awesome Jeff! Thanks for sharing this!

    Do you know if these devices have JTAG exposed on the board (just the pads)?

    ReplyDelete
  20. So far I'm still holding out for Mali t604 for OpenCL support.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Rockchip has dual core systems like UG802. There will be quad core systems from China soon.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have both the Raspberry Pi and the MK802. they are both great, but for different things.

    Linus Torvalds also commented on the Raspberry Pi recently. I think a common assumption is that the Raspberry Pi can be a functional PC. It can't. It is too slow for many commonly assumed computer tasks, even standard web browsing. I wish this was conveyed better, because it makes some people disappointed in the product.

    One can easily find interesting uses people have done with the Raspberry Pi (and I contend the range of uses is far wider in scope than we see for the MK802). That doesn't make the MK802 bad, just better in a different "useage realm".

    My biggest complaint of the MK802 is that these things seem to be replaced with better units so fast; I expect most will be unsupported my imaginative people. I am very pleased that we will see Bodhi Linux for the MK802...

    ReplyDelete