Whether you’re a student, a DIY hobbyist or even a professional, Raspberry Pi and Arduino boards have the potential to satisfy your needs. But while they both offer similar potential for creation, there are several key differences to be aware of when comparing the two devices.
The right platform for you will likely depend on your development preferences and needs. Start your research with our structured breakdown below.
What is Raspberry Pi?
The Raspberry Pi microprocessor board effectively acts as a computer and was developed by Eben Upton while he was at Cambridge University. The Raspberry Pi Foundation sets out to teach and build interest in programming in young students across the UK and in developing countries.
Several iterations of the Raspberry Pi have been released since its first launch in 2012, as well as a range of Raspberry Pi kits that help users tackle specific projects. Demand for budget computing has rocketed so much recently that the company sold some 7.1 million units in 2020.
What is Arduino?
Arduino was developed and launched in Italy by Massimo Banzi and his colleagues. Arduino microcontroller boards are easy-to-use electronics prototyping tools with open-source hardware and software that can read a range of inputs and produce a range of outputs.
Among the most popular Arduino boards are the UNO, which like its counterparts, can be programmed through Arduino IDE, the platform’s bespoke programming software.
What are the key differences?
Both devices are useful tools for students, hobbyists and teachers alike. They’re also similarly priced, with the Arduino being only slightly cheaper. But there are important differences to note – not least that they’re actually different types of devices.
Raspberry Pis are microcomputers that can perform multiple tasks in the same way a regular computer would. Arduinos on the other hand are microcontrollers. This means they don’t have operating systems, and instead carry out single tasks in a more focused way, repeatedly.
Other distinctions to note include:
- Raspberry Pi boards have a processor, RAM, storage, connectors and GPIO pins on-board, whereas Arduino boards feature a processor, RAM and ROM, with supporting hardware and GPIO pins.
- Raspberry hardware and firmware are closed-source, whereas Arduino is open-source.
- Raspberry Pi HAT expansion boards allow for extra features and functionalities, while Arduino Shields do a similar job.
- You have to shut down a Raspberry Pi after using it but can plug and unplug an Arduino as you wish.
- The main programming language for Raspberry Pi are Python, Scratch, Ruby, C and C++, while Arduino is only programmed through C and C++.
- Raspberry Pi’s GPIO has a logic level of 3.3V, while Arduino’s is 5V.
- Raspberry Pi can easily connect to the internet through Wi-Fi or Ethernet, whereas additional modules are needed to do the same with Arduino.
Ultimately, the right device for you will come down to your project requirements. For single repetitive tasks, the Arduino is ideal. But for multiple computing tasks, your best bet is the Raspberry Pi.