Raspberry vs Banana : hardware duel

I took the time to play with the Banana Pi board, and made some benchmarks against the Raspberry Pi.

Here are the specs of the two (three) board, performance related :

Raspberry Pi [model A] [model B]Banana Pi
ChipBroadcom BCM2835 SoC full HD multimedia applications processorAllwinner A20 (sun7i)
CPU700 MHz Low Power ARM1176JZ-FARM Cortex-A7 Dual-Core 1GHz
GPUDual Core VideoCore IV, OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1ARM Mali400 MP2, OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1
Memory[256] [512] MB 400MHz SDRAM1GB DDR3 SDRAM (shared with GPU)
StorageSD, MMC, SDIO onboardSD (Max. 64GB) / MMC onboard
SATA onboard
Network[None] [10/100 on LAN9512 chip]10/100/1000 on A20
USB2.0 ports[1 on BCM2835] [2 on LAN9512 chip]2 on A20
Video outputHDMI 1.3a, composite RGBDisplay Serial Interface (DSI) onboardHDMI 1.4, composite RGBCVBS , LVDS onboard
Power Source5v / 1.2A on micro-usb5v / 2A on micro-usb

I used a second Raspberry Pi, model A, to compare it to the two other, when possible (not that easy with only one usb and no ethernet onboard).

For the tests, I used the 2 new, exact same SD cards : SANDISK Ultra – SDHC Class 10
On the Raspberry Pi, I « burned » a fresh 2014-01-07-wheezy-raspbian image.
On the Banana Pi, I « burned » a fresh Raspbian_For_BananaPi_v2_0 image.

According to the developpers, the Banana Pi image is perfectly compatible with a Raspberry Pi. I tried it, and it’s true : the Raspberry boots normaly from the Banana Pi’s image. So, I conducted the benchs one more time, using a Raspberry model B with the Banana image. I will use the results to see the OS performance hit (if any) and to what extend those benchs are trustable.

Similarities stop here. There are enough differences to expect a performance boost. Let’s dive into the details.

Edit : new power consumption and SATA performance benchmarks here !

I initially planned to include the HummingBoard in this test, but their sales dpt never answered to my emails… :-( 

1. CPU

lower the better

lower the better

This is a surprise : in a single-threaded test, the Allwinner A20 chip is slower than the Broadcom BCM2835, even with theorically 1GHz, compared to the Raspberry’s 700MHz..

However, the A20 ran 4x faster on the same dual-threaded test. This is a massive gain over the Broadcom BCM2835 (over a 3 magnitude).

I ran some checks during normal linux operations (apt-get, internet, arduino IDE, etc) to verify the A20 always runs on 2 cores : it seems to.

2. GPU

I don’t know how the Mali400 GPU should compete versus the Dual VideoCore IV. I just know my Samsung Galaxy S3 runs on a Mali400, and it runs pretty well in HD movies and video-games.

lower the better

lower the better

The Mali400 performance boost versus the VideoCore, is huge (over 4x) ! Gtkperf may not be the best graphic benchmark, but there’s something.

3. Memory

Going from 256 or 512 MB SDRAM to 1GB DDR3 should be a nice performance boost, again.


The Banana beats the Raspberry, especially on MCBLOCK were the gain is massive. Unfortunatly I don’t really know how to interpret those values, except higher is better…

4. SD card

It is very difficult to run reliable disk benchs on a SD card, because of the inevitable wear. And disc bench cause huge stress on a SD card, with many reads/rewrites. So, depending on the wearing of each card when I did these tests, results may be a little off.

higher the better

higher the better

I think we could consider normal SD operations are the same, on Banana or Raspberry. I think the massive boost in cached reads is due to the memory.

If you know better benchmarks I could run (non destructive for the SD card, please ^^), let me know, thanks ! :)

5. Networking

One of the things that annoys me the most on the Raspberry is the network and/or usb speed / reliability. Remember, on the Raspberry Pi model B, ethernet bandwith is shared with the 2 USB2.0. So, the network performance is not fantastic.

On the Banana, the 2 USB2.0 ports are direct from the Allwinner A20 chip, and there’s a dedicated chip for the Gigabit ethernet. So, let’s see how this really runs :

higher the better

higher the better

The difference is massive ! I did the test on a Gigabit switch, several times. The result is consistent.

6. Advanced tests

I did some complete tests using hardinfo on both boards. The resulting documents are a little too big to be posted here, and there are many nice infos in them. You can view them here :

Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi running Banana Pi Raspbian image (v2.0)
Banana Pi
Those reports are also available on my GitHub


I felt like going from a Pentium III-800MHz to a first-generation Core-Duo. The performance boost is very noticeable, everywhere. It could be easily used as a desktop PC or as a webserver. No problem.

Despite still being really « beta », the Banana’s Raspbian runs really well : unlike the Raspberry, there’s no lag when opening the lightdm menu, programs launch very fast, and internet browsing is really pleasant. The OS is ready in 30 seconds from power-on, and everything I needed (HDMI, wireless keyboard, usb-wifi…) worked out of the box.

I don’t really use my Raspberries as media-servers/client, so I can’t really tell about the multimedia performance. But given the A20 specs (made for tablets, with multimedia buit-in functions) and the glxperf results, I’m not worried about it.

When running X desktop, I noticed the cpu bargraph almost never reached 100% on the Banana, no matter what I did. It remained low/middle almost all the time. On the Raspberry, the bargraph jumps to 100% all the time.

The Banana Pi OS seems almost equally powerfull than Raspbian official, on a Raspberry Pi. The Banana Pi works with Banana and Raspberry boards out of the box, and this little detail is very important.


I know for a fact XBMC is not supported yet, but it’s incoming.

One could argue the community is almost inexistant, so are the sources / documentations. But the Allwinner chip family is well documented, with a lot of sources available, and some talented developers : the Axx chip is present in a lot of devices, especially tablets (its main purpose). The Banana Pi team seems to be working hard to resolve the last software issues of the board, and is communicating very well. It’s a very good thing.

Personaly, I really like this board. It’s powerfull, with a lot of connections, and almost everything I miss in my Raspberries : faster, more stable power, better networking and USB, and an onboard RTC, and SATA, and, and…

However, for now, I wouldn’t recommend it to a novice in this type of hardware, because of the OS relative youth. The Raspberry is still the perfect start point.

On a side note, someone did almost the same tests between a Raspberry and a CubiBoard here. Combining the two articles can be very informative.

Next, I plan to run the Banana like a Raspberry : GPIO, I²C, SPI, tft-touch display, etc… I’ll keep you informed.

Out of curiosity : how many of you would buy one for ~50-60$, if you could buy it right here ? Let me know in the comments or on our Google+ page !

Official site url are lemaker.org and forum.lemaker.org. Everything else (including lemaker.ch) are scam websites.

44 thoughts on “Raspberry vs Banana : hardware duel

  1. Matthieu
    08/06/2014 at 14 h 38 min


    I am would to buy a banana pi

    1. Captain Stouf
      11/06/2014 at 4 h 31 min

      Hopefully we will have a few for sale from the first production batch later this month.
      Thank you

  2. Driesione
    15/06/2014 at 8 h 09 min

    When OS would be better for Banana, I would definetly go for it!!

  3. Banane split
    12/07/2014 at 12 h 43 min

    They (the developers) are not releasing the code for the kernel that ships with the images. That seems to constitute a GPL violation. To me, that seems to be a hindrance to the development of a community around this hardware and relegates it to just being a novelty.

    1. Captain Stouf
      14/07/2014 at 20 h 10 min

      The developers are releasing everything they have as soon as it is stable enough. Please remember this board is only 2 months old. The Raspberry still has closed blobs, even after 3 years.
      The issue is mainly from Allwinner, with their crap customer support.

  4. Thibault
    16/07/2014 at 14 h 28 min

    Le banana Pi en vente sur le site officiel français à 53,00€ : http://e.banana-pi.fr

  5. 17/07/2014 at 7 h 37 min

    i Would, You are very informational. Like that.

  6. 01/08/2014 at 14 h 15 min


    Thanks for the useful post. I recently received my Banana Pi in the post, excited to see the improvements compared to the Pi.

    Whilst many of the things you mention are much better (e.g. general usage of the GUI, before I turned it off in favour of using SSH), I don’t see the great increase in file transfer speed I was hoping for.

    Have you compared the Raspberry & Banana transferring files from USB, over the network to other devices?

    I was also disappointed that the SATA drive doesn’t seem any faster than the USB actually! Is this is a limitation of the Banana Pi hardware itself do you think?


    1. Captain Stouf
      01/08/2014 at 20 h 47 min

      I didn’t do this particular test over USB, because I didn’t see the point. I could add it to the disc benchmarks article.

      About the slow sata, it seems it’s just a software limitation with the current kernel build. Gigabit is also slower right now than it should be, because of the driver.
      The source have been released, we could now build everything. These limitations are going to vanish soon imho : I didnt test the new 3.1 raspbian, but the release notes seems very nice.

  7. 01/09/2014 at 14 h 25 min

    I don’t your results for the CPU test are true. I’ve a similar test on my Banana Pi and even with one thread the Banana Pi is a clear winner. Maybe you’ve used a sysbench compiled for Armv6 instead of Armv7 ?

    Check the graph at the end of http://blog.slucas.fr/blog/banana-pi-2-installation-bananian

    1. Captain Stouf
      01/09/2014 at 14 h 48 min

      Oh I just apt-get sysbench, so you may be right… I will do it again and update the article, thank you !

    2. Captain Stouf
      03/09/2014 at 12 h 51 min

      Where did you find your Armv7 sysbench, please ?

      1. 04/09/2014 at 21 h 40 min

        I use the Bananian distribution (which is Wheezy for Banana Pi) it uses the official debian armhf (ARMv7) packages.

        As far as I understood the problem, The first version of Raspbian coming from LeMaker were a basic copy / paste of Raspberry’s Raspbian so ARMv6. I think it has changed but I’m not sure.

        On the contrary I’m sure that Lunbuntu / Bananian are ARMv7.

        I hope I was clear enough

  8. Chris
    02/09/2014 at 0 h 52 min

    I have a CubieTruck (1GHz A20) and I get ~274s running a single-threaded cpu benchmark.

    It’s the plain sysbench I got from apt-get install sysbench from Debian Wheezy

    1. 04/09/2014 at 21 h 41 min

      That’s exactly the kind of performance I also got with my Banana Pi (see my other post)

  9. Alex
    08/10/2014 at 12 h 27 min

    Would buy it when it can handle XMBC : )

    1. Captain Stouf
      08/10/2014 at 12 h 37 min

      Hi ! XBMC runs on the banana already, but hardware acceleration for HD videos still needs some work, it actually needs some tricks (using accelerated mplayer). You could check Lemaker forums for additional details.

  10. 05/11/2014 at 9 h 16 min

    Nice write-up! I’m very keen to check if the Razberry Z-Wave add-on board will work with a Banana Pi now. (i’m guessing / hoping so) Thanks for the inspiration :-)

  11. john
    14/01/2015 at 2 h 03 min

    Did you mean to use Mbps for your networking graph?

    1. Captain Stouf
      14/01/2015 at 21 h 56 min

      You are right !

  12. Matt
    14/01/2015 at 21 h 54 min

    If the Raspbian OS is used, does software that runs on the RPi convert directly to the BPi architecture? Specifically would Octoprint install and function under the Raspbian OS on the BPi?

    1. Captain Stouf
      14/01/2015 at 22 h 07 min

      To make things clearer : BPi uses a special build of Raspbian, but uses the official Raspbian software repositories. Almost every software that works on the RPi could be installed and run on the BPi. Only exceptions I found so far are some softwares that use GPIO functions : for instance, you may have to change I²C bus number or serial port in your software config to make it work on the BPi.
      More specifically, I don’t see why Octoprint wouldn’t work on it (but like I said, don’t use the OctoPi image on the BPi, it won’t work !).

      1. lzur
        22/03/2015 at 1 h 31 min

        Raspberry Pi 2 B:
        CPU 1 thread – 298,60 s
        CPU 2 thread – 148,83 s
        CPU 4 thread – 74,47 s
        GPU – 47,13 s
        Memory MEMCPY – 406,1 Mb/s
        Memory DUMB – 509,89 Mb/s
        Memory MCBLOCK – 697,09 Mb/s
        SD Card (class 10)
        – cached reads – 403,43 MB/s
        – buffered disk reads – 17,53 MB/s

    2. Captain Stouf
      31/03/2015 at 18 h 48 min

      I just installed OctoPrint on top of the Banana Pi Raspbian build (manual installation), and I can confirm it’s working like a charm !

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