benchmarks

The fastest USB storage options for Raspberry Pi

For years, I've been maintaining benchmarks for microSD cards on the Raspberry Pi, but I only spent a little time testing external USB storage, due to historic limitations with the Pi's USB 2.0 bus.

But the Pi 4 cleared away the limitations with a full-speed USB 3.0 bus offering much better performance, so I've done a lot of testing with USB boot, and with all the USB SSDs I had at my disposal. You can see some of those results in this blog post and video on booting a Pi 4 via USB.

After posting my tests concerning UASP support in USB SATA adapters, I got an email from Rob Logan mentioning the performance of some other types of drives he had with him. And he even offered to ship a few drives to me for comparisons!

There's also a video that accompanies this blog post, for the more visually-inclined:

UASP makes Raspberry Pi 4 disk IO 50% faster

You can view a video related to this blog post here: Does UASP make the Raspberry Pi faster?.

A couple weeks ago, I did some testing with my Raspberry Pi 4 and external USB SSD drives. I found a USB 3.0 SSD was ten times faster than the fastest microSD card I tested.

In the comments on the video associated with that post, Brad Manske mentioned something I never even thought about. He noticed that I had linked to an Inateck USB 3.0 SATA case that didn't have UASP.

What's UASP, you might ask?

Raspberry Pi Cluster Episode 5 - Benchmarking the Turing Pi

At this point, I've showed you how you can use the Turing Pi as a Kubernetes cluster to run different things. I barely scratched the surface of what's possible with Kubernetes, but I'm planning on doing another series exploring Kubernetes itself later this year. Subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want to see it!

In this post, I'm going to talk about the Turing Pi's performance. I'll compare it to a more traditional Raspberry Pi cluster, my Pi Dramble, and talk about important considerations for your cluster, like what kind of storage you should use, or whether you should run a 32-bit or 64-bit Pi operating system.

As with all the other work I've done on this cluster, I've been documenting it all in my open source Turing Pi Cluster project on GitHub.

Video version of this post

This blog post has a companion video embedded below:

Raspberry Pi 4 goes 8GB, and Raspberry Pi OS goes 64-bit!

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This morning the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a new 8 GB version of the Raspberry Pi 4. They've been selling a 1, 2, and 4 GB version for the past year, and I've been using all three models in my projects.

8GB Raspberry Pi 4 - photo from Raspberry Pi Foundation website

More RAM is always better, because you can fit more applications on the same Pi, especially if you're using them in a Kubernetes cluster, like I am in my Turing Pi Cluster series!

Raspberry Pi microSD follow-up, SD Association fools me twice?

 ____________________________________________
/ Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, \
\ prepare to die. (Klingon Proverb)          /
 --------------------------------------------
        \   ^__^
         \  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     ||

(Excerpt from Ansible for DevOps, chapter 12.)

The fallout from this year's microSD card performance comparison has turned into quite a rabbit hole; first I found that new 'A1' and 'A2' classifications were supposed to offer better performance than the not-Application-Performance-class-rated cards I have been testing. Then I found that A2 rated cards offer no better performance for the Raspberry Pi—in fact they didn't even perform half as well as they were supposed to, for 4K random reads and writes, on any hardware I have in my possession.

A2-class microSD cards offer no better performance for the Raspberry Pi

Update: See follow-up post about A1 vs A2 performance, Raspberry Pi microSD follow-up, SD Association fools me twice?.

After I published my 2019 Raspberry Pi microSD card performance comparison, I received a lot of feedback about newer 'A2' Application Performance class microSD cards, and how they could produce even better performance for a Raspberry Pi.

A2 Performance Class SanDisk and Lexar microSD cards next to older Samsung and SanDisk cards
None of these cards are fakes; grainy halftone printing is visible because I shot this with a macro lens.

Raspberry Pi microSD card performance comparison - 2019

Note: I also posted a separate review of some A2 'Application Performance' class cards, see this post: A2-class microSD cards offer no better performance for the Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi Noobs SD card adapter with a number of Samsung and other microSD cards

As a part-time tinkerer and full-time developer, I have been fascinated by single board computers (SBCs) since the first Raspberry Pi was introduced almost a decade ago. I have owned and used every generation of Raspberry Pi, in addition to most of the popular competitors. You can search my site for tons of articles on these experiences.

Raspberry Pi microSD card performance comparison - 2018

Raspberry Pi microSD cards Noobs Samsung Kingston Toshiba Sony SanDisk SD SBC

Back in 2015, I wrote a popular post comparing the performance of a number of microSD cards when used with the Raspberry Pi. In the intervening three years, the marketplace hasn't changed a ton, but there have been two new revisions to the Raspberry Pi (the model 3 B and just-released model 3 B+). In that article, I stated:

One of the highest-impact upgrades you can perform to increase Raspberry Pi performance is to buy the fastest possible microSD card—especially for applications where you need to do a lot of random reads and writes.

Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Review and Performance Comparison

Three generations of Raspberry Pi - model 2 B, model 3 B, model 3 B+
Three generations of multi-core Pi: model 2 B, model 3 B, model 3 B+

Whether it's been a 6-node Raspberry Pi cluster running Drupal 8, or a distributed home temperature monitoring application, I use Raspberry Pis for a wide variety of fun projects. The Raspberry Pi model 3 B+ is the latest iteration of the 'top of the line' Pi, with all the bells and whistles, and it still comes in at just $35. This year's iteration improves the CPU frequency, wired LAN performance, and WiFi performance, among other smaller changes, and I ordered one and have taken it for a spin.

What follows are my benchmarks and impressions after a couple weeks poking and prodding the new model 3 B+.

Review: ODROID-C2, compared to Raspberry Pi 3 and Orange Pi Plus

tl;dr: The ODROID-C2 is a very solid competitor to the Raspberry Pi model 3 B, and is anywhere from 2-10x faster than the Pi 3, depending on the operation. The software and community support is nowhere near what you get with the Raspberry Pi, but it's the best I've seen of all the Raspberry Pi clones I've tried.