Internet of Things (“IoT”) devices are becoming more and more relevant as everything from water bottles to light bulbs to watches to laundry machines have become computerized and connected. IoT entrepreneurs and hobbyists alike often turn to Raspberry Pi and Arduino in working on initial prototypes.
Raspberry Pi and Arduino are designed to perform different tasks. While the two platforms do accomplish some similar tasks, the differences between the two platforms are significant. Both platforms are available for relatively cheap prices.
Ultimately, selecting the better option comes down to the type of project. However, many projects may benefit from using both platforms conjunctively. It is fairly common that more complex products or designs will incorporate both platforms working together, with Arduino responsible for things like motor driving, senor reading, and LED driving while Raspberry Pi handles calculations and more complex tasks.
Arduino is an extremely easy to use microcontroller. Microcontrollers are effective at repetitively running one program or task. Raspberry Pi on the other hand is a computer which usually runs a version of the Linux operating system. Raspberry Pi is designed for heavy calculations and multitasking.
Arduino Advantages and Disadvantages
Arduino, while not as powerful as Raspberry Pi, has plenty of very useful applications. Because of its simplicity, Arduino is very easy to use with hardware based products as its main purpose is to interface with sensors and devices. Arduino is capable of being powered by a battery pack paired with a clip on shield to control the power supply. There is no risk of damage to the Arduino unit if the power supply is interrupted.
Arduino is also much easier to use and connect to analog sensors, as compared to Raspberry Pi. This ease of use is made possible by the wide variety of clip-on shields designed for the Arduino unit which give it added abilities.
When it comes to networking, Arduino is more limited as compared to Raspberry Pi. In order to connect to a network, an Arduino unit requires an additional clip-on shield that includes an Ethernet port. Additional wiring and coding is required to connect the Arduino unit to a network.
Raspberry Advantages and Disadvantages
Raspberry Pi boasts a more powerful platform than the Arduino, however, this additional power does come at the cost of ease of use for some projects. Many Raspberry Pi models come equipped with HDMI output, SD card ports, dedicated processor, and dedicated memory. Raspberry Pi is a powerful tool that is easily deployed for tasks such as media streaming or video game emulations. Many Raspberry Pi models also come fully equipped with independent network connectivity including SSH and FTP file transfer abilities. Wi-Fi connection is also possible by simply connecting a USB Wi-Fi dongle and installing a driver.
Because Raspberry Pi is a general purpose computer running a version of Linux, Raspberry Pi modules are much more capable of running multiple programs as compared to the Arduino platform. This capability gives Raspberry Pi the leg up on Arduino when it comes to projects involving complex tasks and intense calculations.
The SD card ports allow a designer to quickly swap out different versions of the operating system or easily update software.
Unlike the Arduino models, Raspberry Pi requires a constant 5V power feed, and this set up is often more complex than the Arduino set up. Additionally, disconnecting the power from the Raspberry Pi module without properly powering down the module could result in data corruption.