Since the 2010s, there has been a new wave of single board computers smaller than the credit card able to perform like any major computer. Offering a range of tinkering and educational adventures, two of the most popular SBCs, the Raspberry Pi and the CHIP computer, are two unique products. While the Raspberry Pi or RBPi was the product of a UK nonprofit supporting children’s education, the Chip started as a successful Kickstarter project that raised more than two million dollars.
The RBPi family includes the RBPi 3 and the RBPi 2, the traditional models ranging in price from $20 to $40. Although simply affordable, the Chip, coming in at $9, is rather more affordable, provided you were buying them in batches for casual use or for instruction. However, the RBPi family boasts of the Raspberry Pi Zero or RBPiZ, which you can buy for $5, making it cheaper than the Chip, and the cheapest computer on the market.
However, both the RBPiZ and the Chip are bare computers in the sense that they do not have power adapters or cords. For connecting each device to a display, along with USB power adapters to power them up, you will need to spend some more. The RBPiZ needs an SD card, as it does not have on-board storage, and therefore, has a higher all-in cost compared to the Chip.
One of the most important features of these devices being connectivity, the Chip offers both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, making it easy to move around with the Chip when experimenting. The Chip also comes with a composite port for connecting screens physically, a mini USB port, and a standard USB port.
While USB 2 ports are available on most of the RBPi models, they vary from 1 port to 4 ports. Many of the RBPi models also have Ethernet connections, while the RBPiZW, another model of the family, has the wireless connectivity just as the Chip does. Both the SBCs can be upgraded with various boards to give them additional connectivity. That brings the HDMI and VGA connections for the Chip, and full USB connections for the RBPiZ.
While the Chip works with a 1 GHz R8 processor based on the ARM7 architecture, the RBPi family comes with a range of processors beginning with the ARM6 single core to ARM7 quad core, while the RBPiZ has an ARM11 core. Speeds of the processors also varies within the RBPi family, ranging from 700 MHz to 1 GHz. Likewise, the family also has varying RAM capacity, ranging from 256 MB to 1 GB. All the RBPis, except for the RBPiZ, come with a GPU, a multimedia processor of the dual core VideoCore IV family.
As the RBPi family has evolved over the years, the more expensive models of the family are generally superior in performance to the Chip. Although the latest RBPi3 could be several times more powerful than the Chip, it would only be fair to compare the Chip with the RBPiZ, its more direct competitor. The Chip comes with a 4 GB on-board flash memory, while the RBPi boards rely on the SD card to provide the storage.