LinuxQuestions.org
Welcome to the most active Linux Forum on the web.
Go Back   LinuxQuestions.org > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Hardware > Linux - Embedded & Single-board computer
User Name
Password
Linux - Embedded & Single-board computer This forum is for the discussion of Linux on both embedded devices and single-board computers (such as the Raspberry Pi, BeagleBoard and PandaBoard). Discussions involving Arduino, plug computers and other micro-controller like devices are also welcome.

Notices


Reply
  Search this Thread
Old 01-15-2018, 08:13 PM   #1
Jason_25
Member
 
Registered: Nov 2001
Posts: 180

Rep: Reputation: 23
Single board computer with efficient power usage and 2GB RAM?


As a quick background I have been working on a Raspberry Pi pocket device but have hit a wall as far as power consumption, stability and speed goes.

1. Power consumption on the Pi is not good because of the dated 40nm SOC design, linear regulators on the board, and lack of low power modes for the SOC.

2. Stability on the Pi with several USB devices (cellular, touchscreen) plugged in is lacking, even with an adequate PSU. Because the USB support is hacked on and is shared between the devices this is to be expected.

3. CPU speed and RAM on the Pi is too below par for quick web browsing like you can do on an Android phone.

I would like to find a SBC with lower power consumption than the Pi 3 but with 2GB RAM or more. The only one I have found so far is this: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...-dev-board-for . It looks amazing and I am already going to get one or more. But I wanted to know if there is one out there that I am missing?
 
Old 01-16-2018, 01:58 AM   #2
rocq
Member
 
Registered: Jan 2013
Location: Netherlands
Distribution: XUbuntu
Posts: 57

Rep: Reputation: Disabled
How about an industrial PC? Based on your specs (more RAM, power efficiency vs performance, ...) you could look for Intel Atom based platforms.

Last edited by rocq; 01-16-2018 at 02:13 AM.
 
Old 01-16-2018, 02:36 PM   #3
Jason_25
Member
 
Registered: Nov 2001
Posts: 180

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 23
Thanks for your reply. Do you have an example of an Atom based SBC that uses less power than the Pi 3? I am aware of the lower power Intel Galileo and Edison stuff but those are much slower than the Pi 3. The major Atom-based SBC I know of is the Lattepanda. The manufacturer lists it as 2A at 5V but if it is like the other Atom systems it will use more power than the Pi 3. It also targets Windows 10 and is $149.

One way to know that the SBC was not built for power efficiency in mind is if a barrel jack is used instead of Micro USB. That includes almost all SBCs except for the Pi and a few others. Manufacturers may claim to use the barrel jack because it is more reliable and it may be but it is also a clue that the SBC could use even more than 2A at 5V. That much power, 10 watts, would threaten to catch your pocket on fire.

I also wanted to mention I am keeping an eye on this: https://www.wandboard.org/products/wandpi-8m/. It is not out yet. The other products in the family also support FreeBSD so this may too.

I would appreciate any further input.
 
Old 01-17-2018, 02:16 AM   #4
rocq
Member
 
Registered: Jan 2013
Location: Netherlands
Distribution: XUbuntu
Posts: 57

Rep: Reputation: Disabled
No, I don't have specific examples for you. I just pointed out the Atom as an option. Intel has improved the power efficiency a lot the last few years. Qualcomm snapdragon SoC may be an option too. In any case, you fighting a difficult battle: I guess I don't have to explain you that 'performance' equals 'power hungry' and 'low power' equals 'less performance'. Finding a more power efficient CPU than the Cortex A53 will be hard, since the A53 is promoted as the power efficient brother of the A57. However, I did find some articles which doubt this promise.

Quote:
3. CPU speed and RAM on the Pi is too below par for quick web browsing like you can do on an Android phone.
How can a multi-core 64-bit CPU with 1 GB RAM not be good enough for web browsing? As a comparison: We have a TI AM3354 (single-core cortex A8, 1GHz) with 512 megs RAM that's running a QT-based web browser on a custom linux distro (yocto) just fine. What I'm trying to say is that you may review the software that's running on the device.
 
Old 01-17-2018, 07:11 AM   #5
Jason_25
Member
 
Registered: Nov 2001
Posts: 180

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 23
Thanks again. I checked Wikipedia again: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...icroprocessors . You can see from that long list that Atom processors are not efficient when the clock rate and core count goes up. The 6w TDP models are about the lowest you see on there and they are dual core and fairly low clocked. This also ignores that you have to wait for someone to design a motherboard around the one you want.

Good point about the tradeoff in performance vs power efficiency. I hoped that would come up. The way you can get both is to have a processor built on a smaller manufacturing process such as 28nm like the Libre Board. You can also cheat and only run the processor at full power when needed.

I just looked up the Snapdragon SBCs again. The Dragonboard is the most popular and looks promising. After all, Qualcomm is largely responsible for the good performance and efficiency of Android phones. This thread shows it to use just 1.3w at idle in Linux: https://discuss.96boards.org/t/power...d-max-load/333 . Unfortunately it has 1GB RAM. I also see Qualcomm not wanting to be in the position to release a board that is better than it's Android hardware partners have. In this way, small developers should probably not look to Qualcomm for help.

The Cortex A53 may or may not be truly power efficient but the way the Raspberry Pi developers have implemented it is not efficient. They could have used their considerable clout to force Broadcom to work with them to get the low power modes working like smartphones have. I also get the impression that the board design trades efficiency for cost.

I have asked myself why a multi-core 1 ghz CPU with 1 GB RAM is not good enough for browsing. It would have been 20 years ago before the great "web revolution" that's for sure.

I have a good Joe Everyman type of test for your custom web browser and device. Go to Walmart.com (desktop site - I do not use mobile versions of sites), search for something, and check local store availability (if you have one). I have not run this test in a while, but with the device I built this is roughly what happens: Konqueror (QT web browser) does not work at all on this site for various reasons. So I try Mozilla Firefox. Firefox can take 30 seconds just to open on a Pi 2. It also gobbles up about 200MB RAM for each tab opened (I have about a 400MB RAM budget to work with when Phone, SMS, Chat, and Email are running in the background). With Walmart.com, it can take over a minute to be able to type anything into the search field. At this point, when the auto search results are popping up, all or most cores are at 100% and RAM usage is skyrocketing. Letters appear 5-10 seconds after you type them. There is a high probability of temporary or permanent freezing of the browser. After 3-4 minutes, if you are lucky you can get to your search results. It is painfully, horrendously slow at all times. Normal people are not going to put up with that. Now, to be fair my fastest computer, 4.0 GHZ Intel i7, can barely handle Walmart.com either. It is funny that people run stuff like 3DMark to test their new computer but all you have to do is go to Walmart.com or another poorly designed site. But that gives you an example of the unoptimized crap you have to put up with when web browsing.
 
Old 01-17-2018, 08:08 AM   #6
rokytnji
LQ Veteran
 
Registered: Mar 2008
Location: Waaaaay out West Texas
Distribution: antiX 23, MX 23
Posts: 7,019
Blog Entries: 21

Rep: Reputation: 3465Reputation: 3465Reputation: 3465Reputation: 3465Reputation: 3465Reputation: 3465Reputation: 3465Reputation: 3465Reputation: 3465Reputation: 3465Reputation: 3465
Try qupzilla browser instead maybe. It is how I roll on my Pentium 3 with one gig of ram. I run JRE but no adobe flash on it.

My P3 handles it OK .

https://www.qupzilla.com/

It works OK on Java heavy sites.

Maybe?

https://www.amazon.com/0-ROCK64-4GB-.../dp/B076N3G3WS
 
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 01-17-2018, 08:46 AM   #7
rocq
Member
 
Registered: Jan 2013
Location: Netherlands
Distribution: XUbuntu
Posts: 57

Rep: Reputation: Disabled
What OS are you running on the pi3? Some custom third party OS may not be using the GPU.
 
Old 01-18-2018, 03:16 PM   #8
Jason_25
Member
 
Registered: Nov 2001
Posts: 180

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 23
Thanks for the recommendation on Qupzilla. I had used it in the past but had trouble with it. I tried the "Walmart Test" on it and it did better than Firefox. However, 3 browsers, Firefox, Konqueror, and Qupzilla have random hangs on each test page that Android phones do not have. I am still not happy with the performance and this is before you go opening multiple tabs.

I am running Devuan on the Pi 2 and Pi 3 right now. My understanding is that OpenGL acceleration, which the Pi has experimental 32-bit-only support for, does not affect web browsing speed because of the generally broken situation with Linux acceleration the Pi video drivers.

I tried the Libre board I mentioned before, and although it does work, it does not output video to any Waveshare screen currently. I'm really disappointed since it advertises specifically lower power usage than the Pi 3.

I am running into a surprising amount of possible touchscreen-related problems with the Pi also. From bad SPI kernel messages on Waveshare 5" screen A to input failure requiring xinput cycling on 5" Waveshare screen B, to xorg crashing when using either touchscreen. This could be because of the kernels or xorg packaged by Devuan also.

Yes I could troubleshoot Devuan and the browsing and touchscreen issues further but it seems like a losing battle and a new board is in my future. These problems prove, at least to me, that the Pi 2 and 3 are not the stable platforms they are advertised to be. Don't misunderstand me, they can idle for years of uptime but when you start actually using them and expecting what you would from a commercial device their reliability falls flat.

I am waiting on an O-Droid C2 to arrive since it has a similar 28nm processor to the Libre board. One thing I can do with these newer processors is to run then at Pi-like frequencies at least at idle and maybe even under load at still better than Pi effective speed because of the faster memory bus, CPU instructions per clock, and SD card speed.

Frankly, my expectations have changed. I am no longer amused by hooking things up and saying "I'm amazed it works at all". I want to browse the web with the best of them without the weird touchscreen problems, browser hangs, or xorg crashes.
 
Old 04-08-2018, 11:01 AM   #9
Jim232
Member
 
Registered: Apr 2018
Posts: 53

Rep: Reputation: Disabled
Realizing this post is little dated here is MY opinion on RPi ( 3B) power issues.
I started with RPi about a year ago and experienced few power problems which turned out to be
power supply related AND using / testing USB ports.
Of course I been immediately advised to "use genuine RPi power supply".
It is now running on 5.2V / 1.8 A brand X supply - case closed.

There is am "issue" with 3B USB layout / power distribution of "standard " 5V USB which is "500mA" per port.
3B USB "port" is 3 USB plugs sharing SAME 5V supply. Case closed (?)
While looking into this dicovered that latest USB spec has provision for "battery charging " presumably allowing for USB 3 port to have MORE that 500mA capacity. Did not research this any-more.
As far as RPi 3B "power issues / reliability " , to be fair , one should separate processor power usage from peripheral ( USB) power consumption.

I have "in works" RPi Zero , the processor power consumption was not that publicized - about 5 months ago, but if I recall correctly - it is bellow 100 mA range. Do not quote me.





Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason_25 View Post
Thanks for the recommendation on Qupzilla. I had used it in the past but had trouble with it. I tried the "Walmart Test" on it and it did better than Firefox. However, 3 browsers, Firefox, Konqueror, and Qupzilla have random hangs on each test page that Android phones do not have. I am still not happy with the performance and this is before you go opening multiple tabs.

I am running Devuan on the Pi 2 and Pi 3 right now. My understanding is that OpenGL acceleration, which the Pi has experimental 32-bit-only support for, does not affect web browsing speed because of the generally broken situation with Linux acceleration the Pi video drivers.

I tried the Libre board I mentioned before, and although it does work, it does not output video to any Waveshare screen currently. I'm really disappointed since it advertises specifically lower power usage than the Pi 3.

I am running into a surprising amount of possible touchscreen-related problems with the Pi also. From bad SPI kernel messages on Waveshare 5" screen A to input failure requiring xinput cycling on 5" Waveshare screen B, to xorg crashing when using either touchscreen. This could be because of the kernels or xorg packaged by Devuan also.

Yes I could troubleshoot Devuan and the browsing and touchscreen issues further but it seems like a losing battle and a new board is in my future. These problems prove, at least to me, that the Pi 2 and 3 are not the stable platforms they are advertised to be. Don't misunderstand me, they can idle for years of uptime but when you start actually using them and expecting what you would from a commercial device their reliability falls flat.

I am waiting on an O-Droid C2 to arrive since it has a similar 28nm processor to the Libre board. One thing I can do with these newer processors is to run then at Pi-like frequencies at least at idle and maybe even under load at still better than Pi effective speed because of the faster memory bus, CPU instructions per clock, and SD card speed.

Frankly, my expectations have changed. I am no longer amused by hooking things up and saying "I'm amazed it works at all". I want to browse the web with the best of them without the weird touchscreen problems, browser hangs, or xorg crashes.
 
  


Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off



Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
LXer: Rugged, octa-core hacker board has 2GB RAM LXer Syndicated Linux News 0 11-25-2017 01:03 AM
LXer: Jaguar Board is an x86 based Single Board Computer LXer Syndicated Linux News 0 01-24-2016 03:10 PM

LinuxQuestions.org > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Hardware > Linux - Embedded & Single-board computer

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:52 PM.

Main Menu
Advertisement
My LQ
Write for LQ
LinuxQuestions.org is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
Syndicate
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration