A Little Throwback
Arduino hails from Italy, and it’s said that it was named after a bar where the developers usually meet to discuss the board. The first Arduino was developed in 2005 and aimed to provide students at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Italy with an inexpensive microcontroller board. Its cost and simplicity also piqued the interests of hobbyists and professionals; it wasn’t long until it reached a wider community of makers. Many other varieties of Arduino boards have been created since then. In 2013, around 700,000 Arduino boards were already sold .
Raspberry Pi was born seven years after Arduino when Eben Upton invented a low-cost, modular, the single-board computer that will help improve the programming skills of his students. Like Arduino, it soon reached a wider audience due to its cost and versatility. The first Raspberry Pi board cost only $35, far less expensive than the existing computer boards that usually cost five times higher. The small board got even smaller and cheaper after the Raspberry Pi Foundation created the Raspberry Pi Zero, the smallest Raspberry Pi board to date, which costs only $5. Raspberry Pi progressed rapidly that millions of boards were already created from the initial target of just 10,000 boards years after its first release.
Raspberry Pi and Arduino: Key Differences
Raspberry Pi and Arduino have grown by leaps and bounds over the years. Because they’re both a favorite among students, DIY enthusiasts, and project builders, these boards are often compared head-to-head despite having different platforms; Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer while Arduino is a microcontroller. Although they both find their niches in DIY projects, robotics, and electronics, they have many differences in performance, cost, software, and functionality. Read on to know the main differences between these two miniature boards to help you decide which one will be suitable for your future projects.
Raspberry Pi is built as a mini-computer and thus seats all the basic components of a computer. At the heart of all Raspberry, Pi boards is a 32-bit or 64-bit Broadcom ARM CPU, from the 700MHz single-core CPU of the original Pi to the much faster 1.5GHz quad-core CPU of Raspberry Pi 4. Broadcom Videocore GPUs are also integrated on the board for graphics processing. The RAM ranges from 256MB to 8GB, depending on the model. USB ports for data transfer and HDMI ports for display are also embedded on the board. Some models also consist of Ethernet ports and have wireless capabilities as well. There’s a microSD card slot for storage reserved for the microSD card containing the operating system. All Raspberry Pi boards include a 40-pin GPIO header, save for Raspberry Pi Zero and Raspberry Pi Zero W, where you need to solder the header yourself.
On the other hand, Arduino is a circuit board built as a microcontroller. Its computing power is far less than that of Raspberry Pi. 8-bit Atmel microcontrollers are at the core of every Arduino board, which are often less than 100MHz. The RAM ranges from 2KB to 64MB. Storage is based on flash memory, from 32KB to 128MB, depending on the model. Some models have a USB port that serves as a communication link and as a power supply. Those without the USB port use the Atmel microcontroller’s pins for communication and can be powered up using a battery pack. Not all boards have built-in networking features. Some would require additional hardware, known as Arduino Shield, which is usually attached to the board to connect to a network. Like the Arduino Uno WiFi, other boards have included WiFi support due to the increasing demands for IoTs.
Unlike Raspberry Pi’s, Arduinos don’t need an OS to run. Arduino systems are much more simple than Raspberry Pi’s. It would be best to program the microcontroller, although the programming languages you can use are limited to C and C++. Arduinos are plug-and-play devices, which means, once you power it up, it will run the program you’ve encoded and will terminate the program once you shut it off.
When you embed a Raspberry Pi in your prototypes or projects, you’re embedding an entire computer to perform many different tasks. Due to its lower computing power, Arduino is limited to just one or two tasks and repeatedly runs the same program. The Raspberry Pi is more complicated than the Arduino, but its complexity is a huge advantage for a multi-functional project. For example, to interact with sensors, you would need to install libraries and other software in a Raspberry Pi, whereas you need a simple code for the Arduino to do the same task. You can build simple projects, like sensing the temperature in a room, using an Arduino, but you can build more complex projects like a DIY drone using a Raspberry Pi. Because there are more components on a Raspberry Pi, it generally costs more than an Arduino.
As you can see, the Raspberry Pi and Arduino are two very different boards, and both have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. If you’re working on a project that requires you to fulfill only one or two tasks, you can go for an Arduino, but for projects that require more complicated tasks and programming, then the Raspberry Pi would be a better option.