raspberry pi

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:

Raspberry Pi Cluster Episode 6 - Turing Pi Review

A few months ago, in the 'before times', I noticed this post on Hacker News mentioning the Turing Pi, a 'Plug & Play Raspberry Pi Cluster' that sits on your desk.

It caught my attention because I've been running my own old-fashioned 'Raspberry Pi Dramble' cluster since 2015.

Raspberry Pi Dramble Cluster with Sticker - 2019 PoE Edition

So today, I'm wrapping up my Raspberry Pi Cluster series with my thoughts about the Turing Pi that I used to build a 7-node Kubernetes cluster.

Video version of this post

This blog post has a companion video embedded below:

The Pi 4 Compute Module might support NVMe storage

There is a companion video to this post: Is fast NVMe storage coming to the Raspberry Pi?.

A couple days ago, Tom's Hardware posted an article stating NVMe support might be coming to the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4.

On the first episode of The Pi Cast, Eben Upton, the CEO of Raspberry Pi, said "microSD will always be the baseline for storage", but "it's fairly likely we'll support NVMe soon on the Compute Module 4, to some degree, using single-lane PCI Express." (Skip to about 11 minutes into the video for the NVMe discussion).

He also said NVMe support is not without cost, since there's an extra connector silicon required. And with the System on a Chip used in the Pi 4, there's also a tradeoff involved: There's only one PCIe 1x lane, and it's currently used for the Pi 4's USB 3.0. If you want to add NVMe support, you'd have to drop the USB 3.0 ports.

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:

What does Apple Silicon mean for the Raspberry Pi and ARM64?

Note: There's a video version of this blog post available here: What does Apple Silicon mean for the Raspberry Pi and ARM64?

Apple Silicon and the Raspberry Pi

A couple weeks ago I tried using the latest Raspberry Pi 4 8 gig model as my main computer for a day, and I posted a video about my experience.

Besides many diehard Linux fans complaining in the comments about my apparent idiocy caused by being a Mac user, the experience taught me one thing: A lot of software still isn't built for 64-bit ARM processors, or even for Linux in general.

But there's one trend that I'm seeing: most of the open source software I use already works great on a Pi 4 running on its 64-bit ARM processor.

I replaced my MacBook Pro with a Raspberry Pi 4 8GB for a Day

Earlier this week, as part of my work doing a more complete review of the Raspberry Pi 4 (coming soon!), I decided I'd go all-in and spend one entire day working entirely (or at least as much as possible) from a Raspberry Pi.

And not just doing some remote coding sessions or writing a blog post—that's easy to do on a Chromebook, a tablet, or any cheap old laptop—but trying to do all the things I do in a given day, like:

  • Browse Twitter using a dedicated app
  • Use Slack (you laugh, but Slack uses more memory than most of the other apps I'm running at any given time—combined!)
  • Record and edit clips of audio and video
  • Work on some infrastructure automation with Docker, Ansible, and Kubernetes

So as with any project of this scope, I created a GitHub repository, pi-dev-playbook, to track my work—and, to be able to immediately replicate my development environment on a new Pi, should the need arise.

I'm booting my Raspberry Pi 4 from a USB SSD

Recently, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a USB boot beta for the Raspberry Pi 4. For a very long time, the top complaint I've had with the Raspberry Pi is limited I/O speed (especially for the main boot volume). And on older Pis, with the maximum external disk speed limited especially by the USB 2.0 bus—which was shared with the network adapter, limiting its bandwidth further—even USB booting didn't make things amazing.

But the Pi 4 not only separated the network adapter from the USB bus, it also has USB 3.0, which can be 10x faster than USB 2.0 (theoretically). So when the USB boot beta was announced, I wanted to put it through its paces. And after testing it a bit, I decided to use the Pi 4 as my full-time workstation for a day, to see whether it can cope and where it falls short. I'll be posting a video and blog post with more detail on that experience very soon.

Update: I now have a video that goes along with this blog post:

Raspberry Pi Cluster Episode 4 - Minecraft, Pi-hole, Grafana and More!

This is the fourth video in a series discussing cluster computing with the Raspberry Pi, and I'm posting the video + transcript to my blog so you can follow along even if you don't enjoy sitting through a video :)

In the last episode, I showed you how to install Kubernetes on the Turing Pi cluster, running on seven Raspberry Pi Compute Modules.

In this episode, I'm going to show you some of the things you can do with the cluster.

The world's first Drupal 9 LIVE upgrade!

Update: The upgrade was a success! The site is now on Drupal 9.0.0, yay!

I'm planning on upgrading my www.pidramble.com website from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 LIVE on my YouTube channel today, in honor of the #D9Launch today!

The site is currently running on a single Raspberry Pi on my desk in my basement... so this would not only be the world's first live Drupal 9 upgrade, it may possibly be the first-ever Drupal 9 site running on a Raspberry Pi!

Fingers crossed, I hope Drupal 9.0.0 will be ready to go by 5:00 p.m. US Eastern time (today, June 3rd)—if so, the stream will begin at that time, and I've embedded it below:

25K Open Source Pay-it-Forward Pi 4 8GB Giveaway!

This morning, my YouTube channel passed 25,000 subscribers, and that's only a couple weeks after I was amazed to see it pass ten thousand! I'm working on my next video on the Turing Pi cluster, and it will be out very soon, but I thought I'd try to do something special for 25,000 subscribers.

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The videos I make for my YouTube channel wouldn't be possible without me relying on the work of thousands of people, working on thousands of open source projects. I want to see how much I can pay it forward for them in this video.