Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi: Which is Better for Your Project?

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If you are somewhat of a technophile, you have probably already heard of the famous Rasberry Pi, which was made famous several years ago thanks to its utility and emphasis on learning and education. You may also have heard about Arduino, a lesser-known but no less capable board designed to perform a vast range of tasks (whatever the user’s mind can imagine, really), and has a set of unique characteristics that make it just as valuable as the Rasberry Pi. This post will explore both of these devices and offer you all the information you might need to decide which option is best for your specific requirements. 

What Is Arduino?

When it comes to microcontrollers, Ardunio and Rasberry Pi might be the two heavy hitters in space, but Ardunio is arguably the lesser-known of the two. Arduino is an open-source hardware and software company with an extensive range of options available to both amateur and professional tinkerers alike. Just like its more popular competitor, you have plenty of choice when it comes to buying the various parts that make up the system. If you click here, you will see the enormous range of sensors, I/O modules, and all manner of other valuable things that you can purchase to extend the usefulness and usability of the actual microcontroller. The original Arduino board and IDE have become so popular in recent years thanks to their mission to reach a wider audience by simplifying the process of programming them. At its core, an Arduino board contains:

  1. An Atmel AVR microcontroller
  2. Connections for programming the chip
  3. Pins that allow interaction with the outside world through the aforementioned add-ons

Arduinos are best suited for interfacing with sensors and controlling physical outputs like motors or lights. 

What Is Raspberry Pi?

While the Ardunio excels at specific tasks, Raspberry Pi may be a better choice for some projects, but to decide, you need to understand what the Pi actually is compared to the Arduino. Raspberry Pi is a series of small single-board computers developed in the UK and made famous in 2013 to promote teaching computer science in schools and developing countries, but it has also developed somewhat of a following thanks to the things it can do. Unlike Arduino, Raspberry Pi can function as a standalone desktop computer with an operating system such as Linux installed via an SD card. The most widely used boards feature a Broadcom System on a Chip (SoC) and have one or more USB and Ethernet ports for easily connecting peripherals and, most specifically, connecting it to the internet. With its full computer capabilities, Raspberry Pi is well-suited for projects involving the graphical display of information or computation-heavy tasks like data analysis. Programming on the device can be done directly on it using its command line or remotely via Secure Shell (SSH). Popular languages include Python (perhaps the most widely used for Pi projects), C/C++, and JavaScript. 

Memory And Storage Capabilities Compared

Choosing between these two potions can be pretty tricky, but when you bear in mind the difference in capabilities, you will see that there is likely a clear winner based on what you want tot to achieve. While both platforms offer ways to expand, their basic onboard capacities differ significantly. Most Arduino boards only have a few KB of flash memory to store code and a tiny amount of RAM, often measured in mere bytes. This minimal memory is sufficient for many simple input/output tasks but poses severe limitations for complex programs. Arduinos rely on external modules to add capabilities like SD card storage. While this might not be an issue if you enjoy fettling to your own spec, it might turn off some users who simply want to get it working out of the box. 

In contrast, every entry-level Pi comes equipped with GBs of memory and solid-state storage. Models in the Raspberry Pi 4 range boast up to 4GB of RAM, allowing for relatively memory-intensive processes. They also have micro SD card slots for OS installation and data storage, further increasing the capacity. 

Programming Languages And Compatibility Explained

When building a project using tools such as these two options, the available programming languages and compatibility with other devices can impact your decision. Arduino uses its own version of C/C++ with a simplified syntax and core API for interacting with onboard hardware. Sketches can be written on any computer and uploaded wirelessly. This makes Arduino highly portable but somewhat limiting to more complex software. Raspberry Pi, on the other hand, functions as an entire Linux computer. It supports various interpreted languages like Python, scripting like Bash, and compiled languages like C/C++. As a mini PC, it can also run desktop software and connect to various devices via common interfaces. While Arduino works best with other microcontrollers and simple sensors, Raspberry Pi offers seamless integration into complete systems. Its Linux environment allows installing packages for advanced peripherals like cameras, WiFi adapters, and more, so bear this in mind when deciding.

Community Support And Resources Available

Both Arduino and Raspberry Pi benefit from large, active user bases that share knowledge as you might expect from products such as these. Arduino’s large community has created a wealth of example codes, libraries, tutorials, forums, and more to help users interface with common hardware. This extensive documentation makes it easy for beginners to find sample projects to build upon. Commercial support from Arduino’s education initiatives further lowers the barrier to entry. Raspberry Pi also has immense community support through its website and forums. A wide variety of third-party guides exist for tasks like setting up web servers, building robots, and creating multimedia centers. 

Additionally, the open-source nature of the Pi operating system has spawned many free software additions. Nevertheless, Arduino’s large community has created a wealth of example codes, libraries, tutorials, forums, and more to help users interface with common hardware. This extensive documentation makes it easy for beginners to find sample projects to build upon. For complex or advanced projects that require custom software, Raspberry Pi’s large community of programmers and resources for full-featured languages like Python give it an advantage. However, Arduino’s simplicity makes learning physical computing very accessible.

Both microcontrollers offer a tremendous amount of customizability and will create countless hours of enjoyment for those interested in this kind of thing. However, it is this author’s opinion that Rasberry Pi just ekes past the Arduino thanks to its larger number of use cases, out-of-the-box usability, and more extensive community support.