Benchmarks comparing the Raspberry Pi to the Parallella

During the process of  testing and validating the Parallella boards we ran a lot of open benchmarks from http://openbenchmarking.org/.  It was surprisingly hard to find benchmarks that met our requirements and in our opinion the Phoronix test suite is the best option for open and transparent benchmarks that:

  • Must be open source
  • Have a permissive usage and reporting license
  • Run out of the box
  • Don’t allow tweaking of source code and compiler switches
  • Have a transparent results reporting mechanism

One of the nice features of the Phoronix testsuite is that it automates the process of comparing benchmarks against old results and reporting data back to http://openbenchmarking.org.

To install the Phoronix  test suite in Ubuntu:

sudo apt-get install phoronix-test-suite

To benchmark against an existing result:

phoronix-test-suite benchmark 1302242-BY-1205272AR49

In this case, we wanted to compare the performance of the dual core 667MHz ARM A9 within the Zynq SOC on the Parallella board against the Raspberry Pi results that had been reported here.

Of course we knew from the start that Parallella results would not be earth shattering since the benchmarks don’t use the FPGA logic or the Epiphany coprocessor and are mostly single threaded.

Below you can see some of the results. The full set of results are available at http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1307314-AR-1302242BY85

Screenshot from 2013-07-31 08_27_50 Screenshot from 2013-07-31 08_28_43 Screenshot from 2013-07-31 08_29_47 Screenshot from 2013-07-31 08_30_18

In our view, there really weren’t too many surprises. We should always be very careful in drawing conclusions about benchmark data, but two things seem clear from these results: 1.) ARM A9 is significantly faster than ARM11 and 2.) Phoronix benchmark scores are strongly correlated with operating frequency.

We think it’s reassuring that the ARM sub-system on the Zynq gives pretty decent  baseline performance that will be “good enough” for many applications. Once we have boards out in the field, we hope our Kickstarter backers will run their own benchmarks and report results openly. As you know, it’s imperative to verify any benchmark results that come directly from a semiconductor vendor.:-)

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[NOTE]: The Phoronix benchmark reports the Zynq running at 733MHz but the Zynq is actually running at 667MHz. This was due to us using a 30MHz input clock instead of a 33MHz on the Gen0 version of the board. We moved to 33MHz for the Gen1 and decided that we didn’t want to spend time figuring out why the clock was running slow. (i.e. if you measure 30 seconds of wall time, the Parallella board reports that 28s has passed).

Posted in White Papers.

10 Comments

    • The purpose of the article certainly wasn’t to claim that the Parallella is faster (and more expensive) than the Raspberry Pi, that goes without saying. Both platforms were built primarily for the purpose of education and research and both are great platforms.

  1. I don’t completely understand the graphs. I can imaging what the raspian-wheezy and the parallella chart represent 😉 , but what actually is the deal with intelp4 (that I can guess) and debian?

    • I guess is a reference measurement of the Intel Pentium4 (A Brutal Force clocking speed processor) to get a relative idea of the performance of the embedded debian systems…. nevertheless? Are the kernels all the same in the charts? Cause there have been significant improvements on the raspbian kernel….

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