Arduino Tre vs BeagleBone Black

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The Tre is the Arduino latest flagship board, which offers various features updates or additions as an alternative to Raspberry Pi. There is no secret that the Arduino collaborate with the BeagleBoard foundation to design and build the Tre. This detail is evident in the minicomputer specifications, which are pretty close to the BeagleBone Black.

The Tre was not released yet, it is planned to appear on the market in 2014.

While the Tre is expected to be revealed next year, the BeagleBone Black is a board already available for engineers, designers, students, or hobbyists. The Black is an ultra-powered embedded computer with a full version of Ubuntu Linux installed and with a wide range of accessories that allows users to use the minicomputer for almost any applications where the board can be useful.

The most important difference between Tre and BeagleBone Black are:

  • Tre support a maximum resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, while the Black support a maximum resolution of1280x1024 pixels;
  • Black has 2x PRU 32-bit microcontrollers, while the Tre has a total of three microcontrollers (two of the microcontrollers are on-chip – 200 MHz 32-bit Programmable Real-time Unit (PRU));
  • Black has integrated a PMIC regulator;
Arduino Tre vs BeagleBone Black

Arduino Tre vs BeagleBone Black

Specifications Arduino Tre BeagleBone Black
Processor 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A8 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A8
Microcontroller 3x PRU 32-bit microcontrollers 2x PRU 32-bit microcontrollers
Memory 512MB DDR3L 512MB DDR3L
Networking Ethernet 10/100 Ethernet 10/100
USB ports 1 USB 2.0 device port, 4 USB 2.0 host ports USB 2.0 type A host port. Dedicated single mini-USB 2.0 client port (no additional 2-port hub)
Video Output HDMI (1920×1080) HDMI (1280×1024)
Audio Output HDMI HDMI
MicroSD card Yes Yes
Software Linux Linux Ubuntu
Software Compatibility ? Android, Angstrom Linux, Fedora, Ubuntu, Gentoo, Arch Linux ARM, FreeBSD
Programming languages C, C++ C, C++, Python, Perl, Ruby, Java, or shell script
Power 5V 5V
Dimensions ? 86.40 × 53.3 mm (3.402 × 2.10 in)

In the following, we make a comparison between the Tre and Black minicomputers, a comparison based on measures, graphics, audio, power, hardware, software, storage, networking, USB and Wireless.

Measures

Arduino Tre – the measures of Tre were not revealed until now, but we don’t worry about the dimensions. The device has to be kept in the same range with Arduino boards.

BeagleBone Black – this minicomputer is a tiny device with 3.4 inches length and 2.1 inches width.

Since we don’t have the dimension for Tre, we can’t determine who the winner is.

Graphics

Arduino Tre – the Tre has HDMI support, which is an important feature that can be used for digital and analog applications. The board supports a maximum resolution of video files of 1920×1080 pixels, and using the LCD expansion interface the images can be displayed on any LCD screen.

BeagleBone Black – the Black board has an LCD expansion header and support the HDMI compact audio/video interface. The maximum resolution supported by the board is 1280×1024 pixels, which is a very small difference between the two minicomputers.

Based on specifications for both electronic boards and comparing the graphic options, we could say that the Tre winning at the graphics with a high resolution, while the other specs are the same.

Audio

Arduino Tre – the board has HDMI support and stereo analog audio I/O.

BeagleBone Black – if we read the audio specifications is easy to see that there is no difference. There is the same audio HDMI interface with stereo sound reproduction.

We don’t have any winner since the both minicomputers have the same options.

Power

Arduino Tre – there is only one option to power the board and this is by using a power jack connected to a 5V power source.

BeagleBone Black – the Black board support 5V and has two options for powering the board including here a MiniUSB, while the second option is to use a DC jack.

With two options for powering the minicomputer, Black is the winner.

Hardware(Update)

Arduino Tre – is not a secret that the Tre has the most powerful hardware so far from the Arduino series. The hardware specifications include a 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor by Texas Instrument Sitara and 512MB RAM DDR3. The processor integrated in Tre is the same used for BeagleBone Black with two on-chip 200 MHz 32-bit (PRU) microcontrollers. This means that Tre has a total of three microcontrollers.

BeagleBone Black - the hardware includes a 1GHz Sitara AM3359AZCZ100 processor and 512MB DDR3L. Based on this information it is very easy to understand that there are not differences between the two boards. For real-time applications the Black has 2x PRU 32-bit microcontrollers.

We could protest to introduce more memory and a more powerful processor for Tre, but I’m afraid that the board is already in the prototyping phase. Even in this case Tre is the winner having in plus one microcontroller for real-time applications.

Software

Arduino Tre – the board has enough resources to run a full version of Linux, and it is expected to use the same Arduino IDE written in Java and with support for C or C++ programming language.

BeagleBone Black – this board runs a full version of Ubuntu Linux and is compatible with Android OS. Using the Cloud9 IDE built on Node, JavaScript and HTML5, any developer around the world can edit the same code and stay connected with other developers.

I could say that Black is the winner since has Android and a wide range of programming languages support, but the information missing from Tre about its Android support. Perhaps is better to put an equal between the two boards.

Storage(Updated)

Arduino Tre – it has support for SD memory cards, but we don’t have any information about the maximum capacity of the memory card supported.

BeagleBone Black – for storage the Black comes with a standard 2GB eMMC memory, which is enough for a full version of Linux and thousands of lines of code. For boot or extra storage the Black has available a MicroSD port.

Even without having the complete information about storage for Tre, the Black is the winner with both eMMC and MicroSD memory support.

Networking, USB and Wireless

Arduino Tre – the board has a total of 5 USB ports and include a 10/100 wired Ethernet connection.

BeagleBone Black – the Black board has a lot of options for connectivity with 2 HiSpeed USB 2.0, a serial port UART0, and a 10/100 wired Ethernet connection.

With few differences, the Tre is the winner in front of Black that has a USB port less.

Conclusion

The conclusion is simple, very simple. The Arduino Tre is a board based on BeagleBone Black and is a pretty visible thing since small differences are between the two minicomputers. So far there are no limits for advanced robotic applications even you use a BeagleBone Black or wait until 2014 when the Tre will be released.


Resources:
Arduino;
BeagleBone;

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Dragos George Calin
Dragos George Calin is an IT analyst who graduated Faculty of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, specialization Industrial Automation and Informatics with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering, Automation and Computer Science. He has a great passion for robots and web development.
6 comments
Rico Bachmann
Rico Bachmann

Hi there Thanks for this comparison. But about the resolution of the BBB: It is possible to get to a higher resolution than 1028x1024 with the BBB, on cost of the sound or on cost of the refresh rate, if I understand that correctly. I would like to add the link to the discussion on the mailinglist, but I'm not allowed to ;)

Peter
Peter

Thanks for your comparision, very useful! I would think that it is worth mentioning that the BBB has just a HDMI port, but no separate audio ports as the Tre has. Seems like an advantage for the Tre to me.

Oleg Semyonov
Oleg Semyonov

"MicroSD: Tre - yes, BBB - no". If we talk about supported hardware, then that's wrong. BBB has eMMC (2GB) as a standard, but it also has uSD port used for extra storage or to boot from it. So if you talk about support - BBB supports both eMMC and uSD.

Howard Shapiro
Howard Shapiro

The Arduino Tre vs. BeagleBone Black (BBB) comparison errs with respect to microcontrollers. The Tre basically combines the BBB with an Arduino Atmel-based microcontroller, and uses the same TI AM335x ARM processor used in the BBB. This processor includes two on-chip 200 MHz 32-bit Programmable Real-time Unit (PRU) microcontrollers. So the Tre has three microcontrollers, not one. There may be an issue with regard to expansion; the Tre's connectors don't look as if they could accept BeagleBone expansion capes, but CircuitCo, which makes both the BBB and the expansion capes and will manufacture the Tre, would likely provide an adapter and/or redesigned capes to deal with that.