Test and review of the Banana ft, clone du Raspberry Pi

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When I was offered to test the Banana ft I have to say that I got a bit as a kid for a few days of Christmas : “OWL a new toy”. So when today, I have a phone call telling me “Hey you got a package, It must be your thing machin pi”, I went all crazy, Press to test. And it was him !

Raspberry Pi Home Server - Banana Pi board

Once unpacked, I asked myself the question of : How to test and share with you on something that has already been seen and reviewed on various sites … Ben I not found. So I'll give you my impressions as they came.


Here, You surely know all, Banana Pi is more efficient than Raspberry Pi. The main differences for me :

  • The CPU which is a ARM Cortex-A7 dual-core clocked at 1GHz by default.
  • The memory of 1GB in DDR3
  • An Ethernet port 10/100/1000 MB
  • 2 USB ports directly managed by the A20 therefore no sharing of bandwidth with Ethernet !

It is already making a beautiful difference. After you have some additional new features like for example a USB OTG port, SATA port, three buttons (which one to do a reset) and an infrared sensor.

Brief, for the moment on paper is well tempting.

Side similarities, We find an exit HDMI (v1.4), one output Jack 3.5 mm, a Composite video output, a LVDS port (for LCD monitors) and a CSI port (for cameras).

The big common point, and it is a great news, It is the 26 GPIO ports that are identical to those of Raspberry Pi ! So in theory the maps that go over the Raspberry will on the Banana (later, we'll see if theory joined the practice !)

Side gap, as Raspberry Pi, no clock RTC ! Je trouve ça dommage pour les projets de robotique ou de ballons dans l’atmosphère 😉 Autre petit point négatif vu sur différents sites, the GPU (a Mali 400) would be less efficient than that of the Raspberry. Finally no port DSI, an LVDS instead.

You'll understand, Coté equipment, Banana Pi is really attractive. Those looking for the raw performance will be served.


Raspberry Pi Home Server - Banana Pi GPIO

I wanted to look a little on this side of a little more precisely because it is important on the Raspberry. Even if you can see in my different blogs that I am more “specialist” software and electronic, for me it is the element that makes all the difference and that gives often outstanding projects ideas.

That said, the first step was to check the compatibility of the existing maps on the Raspberry on the Banana. Finally when I say the cards it is rather those that I have at home :

  • A Gertboard
  • A Gertduino
  • A PiFace

Results :

Raspberry Pi Home Server - Banana Pi additional boards

The Slice of Pi is fine so no worries. The Gertduino has a small buffer that is based on the USB ports, as for the Raspberry.

Finally the Gertboardne does not totally but there also fit as on the Raspberry. Welds keys USB ports and with static electricity there may be a risk ? I do not know but I find it kinda weird.

Side software, lemaker has released a new release of its distribution that ensures the compatibility of map with libraries wiringPi and RPI.GPIO. So, you should be able to reuse your programs without fear.


Here's how I proceeded.

  • New configuration
    Installation from the official distribution (1.3GB to download) and see if it happens as well as for the Raspberry. If you want you will find images of Fedora, Lubuntu, ArchLinux, OpenSuse and even Android (version 4.2-2.0).
    Once the downloaded 1.3 Gb image, unpacked (3.6GB !) copying on the SD card is done as for the Raspberry. Then login. Galley to find the right user : root/bananapi.

    Raspberry Pi Home Server - Banana Pi free memory

    La mémoire de 1Gb est bien là 🙂

    Raspberry Pi Home Server - Banana Pi gigabit ethernet

    Flow of 1258 kb/s for the update of the system.

    Raspberry Pi Home Server - Banana Pi kernel update

    The kernel 3.4.90

    For the rest, We find everything that makes the happiness of a possessor of Raspberry : raspi-config, the RPI Bookstore.GPIO, wiringPi, etc.
    PRaspberry Pi Home Server - Banana Pi running raspi-configour fun I took the SD card to insert it into a Raspberry Pi model B. No worries for the start. The kernel passes in version 3.12.22, X is well launched and SSH works without worries.
    Screenshot 2014-08-14 from 19.21.14

  • A map of an existing Pi Raspberry
    I told myself that if it was so consistent that much with the Raspberry if I take an SD card with already a distribution, will it work ? I took the card I had made for This article on Owncloud 7. Connecting the NIC, Food and …. nothing. Just the Red led that lights up, nothing more. I used nmap to detect the Banana on the network but it is not apparent. So I did other tests but take a Pi Raspberry SD card and put it in the Banana doesn't seem to work. On the other hand, the official distribution of the Banana is compatible with the Raspberry. So if you want a day pass on the Banana, use instead this distribution (If it is fairly stable !).
  • Performance
    Then there don't expect to tests and other benchmark, I give you just my impressions with no scientific value (Yes nothing that it). The boot is fast. Less than 10 sec with the version that contains X 11. Reducing the AC distribution must be able to start much faster.
    There where the difference arises it is for downloads. On a wired connection, flows are really more important and it smells. For me it is a significant comfort.
  • XBMC
    Bon là c’est un peu un test pipo car j’en connais à l’avance le résultat 😉 Mais c’est toujours bon de le signaler : No XBMC support for processors A20. So don't buy a Banana if you want to put it behind your TV !

OK this isn't the best tests but I think ca represents the capabilities of the Banana ft.

And support in all ca ?

Because Yes it's nice this card but in the end in case of problems how do I ? Was easily the documentation or information about what is specific to the Banana ? There is a wiki that resembles or rather tries to resemble eLinux but many pages are empty at the moment. Suddenly when I'm looking for information on the I2C bus (initially there is not one), Ben I find not necessarily much information. For me it remains a big brake to make the toggle.


Despite very good performances for a slightly higher price than Raspberry Pi, I think that Banana Pi target specific projects where you have a power and memory. Of more non-compatibility (for the moment) with XBMC is punitive and it is unfortunate with a built-in infrared receiver ! In addition, compatibility with certain elements doesn't seem to be total. I think a CTS for example, After hardware-free, a DS1307 does not work. Perhaps to recompile the kernel but good …

My personal opinion is that I'll probably replace my small server and migrate it on the Banana. Above I have my Mac Timemachine management, the rsync, the transmission, Minidlna, a Web server, a CUPS for the AirPrint printing Manager, a recorder of probes, bref pas mal de soft où je fais attention à ne pas tout utiliser en même temps 😉 Pour les autres projets, I will definitely stay here on the Raspberry but surely more by “ideology” by gaps on the Banana.

Voilà, do not hesitate to give your impressions and opinions in the comments or even if you have any questions on the map !

And thanks to lemaker.org for mailing the card !

– The most powerful processor with the A20– The price. Yes, there not a big difference but still
– 1GB of memory– The side sentimental. Yeah, It's not a Raspberry and then the lemaker company's objectives are not the same as the Raspberry Foundation !
– One Gigabit Ethernet port– The community. Thanks to the compatibility with the Raspberry Pi, There are support. But for what is specific, It is more difficult
– A true Ethernet port which is not shared with USB ports !– XBMC is still not compatible
– The compatibility of the GPIO ports with those of Raspberry Pi– No IP Cam support
– Possibility to install Android– No integrated RTC clock
– The official distribution is compatible with the Raspberry– Raspberry are not compatible
– The Raspberry SD cards are not supported. If you are migrating will need to redo an installation

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