Difference Between Arduino and Raspberry Pi

In different projects related to electrical, electronics, computer science, and robotics engineering, sometimes, we need a module that is common to many projects, for example – a USB interface with a microcontroller, bootloader program of microcontroller, low-efficient and cheap computers for servers or other general-purpose usages, etc. This is why many engineers and hobbyists prefer some modular boards that offer the multi-purpose usage of a particular circuitry.

Arduino and Raspberry Pi are modular boards. They allow us to make the prototypes without any prior knowledge or experience of soldiering, bootloader programming or microcontroller or microprocessor programming as a whole, etc. Though their objectives are pretty much the same, there are many differences between Arduino and Raspberry Pi. In this article, Let’s see the actual difference between Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

Arduino vs Raspberry Pi

The difference between Arduino and Raspberry Pi is summarised in the following table.

Arduino Raspberry Pi
Arduino is a microcontroller development board. Raspberry Pi is a general-purpose computer. [Though recently raspberry pi has also released a microcontroller development board named Raspberry Pi Pico.]
It has a microcontroller onboard which takes input data from GPIO pins, processes them, and gives output through the same. Raspberry Pi has a microprocessor, RAM, Memory, etc. separately attached on the same board.
The memory capacity of Arduino is very low compared to Raspberry Pi. Raspberry Pi models have micro-SD card slots, and the memory capacity is higher than Arduino.
An Arduino is programmed using Arduino IDE which is C/C++ based. Raspberry Pi is a general-purpose computer and supports multiple languages.
Arduino does not have any operating system. Raspberry Pi has a GUI-based operating system named Raspbian OS.
Arduino has limited operations due to a lack of memory and other limitations. As Raspberry Pi is a general-purpose computer, it has a wider scope of application. Recent Raspberry Pi 4 models come with 2 4 and 8 GB of RAM which can be used as a personal computer as well.
Arduino has different models which have different prices but the average price is lower than Raspberry Pi Like Arduino Raspberry Pi also has different models with different prices but the average price is higher than Arduino.

What is Arduino?

Arduino is a company that started making microcontroller development boards. These boards are called Arduino boards. Some of the examples of Arduino boards are – Arduino UNO, Arduino Nano, Arduino MINI, Arduino LEONARDO, Arduino MEGA, Arduino Lilypad, Arduino Nano 33 BLE, etc. Arduino boards like UNO, Nano, Lilypad use the ATMega328P microcontroller. Arduino MEGA uses ATMega2560.

These Arduino boards come in different shapes and sizes. They also differ in the number of General-Purpose Input Output (GPIO) pins, storage capacity, speed of execution of operations, etc. The scope of their applications is also different. Arduino UNO, MINI, Nano, LEONARDO are mostly for small projects where the required number of GPIO pins is low and there is not much load on the microcontroller. Arduino MEGA is used for heavy applications or projects. Arduino Nano 33 BLE supports the ML and AI projects.

Arduino also offers us an IDE that allows us to program the board using very simple and easily understandable line codes without any prior knowledge of coding.

Arduino has a large collection of libraries that help us to interface different input-output devices and sensor modules. Arduino is open-source. So, there are plenty of libraries available on the internet too.

As Arduino is open-source there are many shields, modules, and sensors available in the market which are compatible with Arduino. Not only the Arduino boards and their microcontrollers but also many other microcontrollers such as ATTiny microcontrollers can be programmed using Arduino. Due to all these reasons, many engineers and hobbyists prefer Arduino.

What is Raspberry Pi?

Raspberry Pi is a non-profit organization that produces the world’s cheapest general-purpose computers. There are different models of Raspberry Pi available in the market such as – Raspberry Pi Zero and Zero-W, Raspberry Pi 3 B and B+, Raspberry Pi 4 with 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB of RAM, Raspberry Pi 400, etc. All these models have different specifications. Raspberry Pi Zero is the smallest and cheapest one. Raspberry Pi 4 has jaw-dropping specifications. It has two HDMI ports, one USB-C type power supply port, one Micro-SD card slot, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, one Ethernet port, and gives us 3 options of RAM – 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB. Raspberry Pi 400 has the board attached inside a keyboard. These models can be used to make a fully functioning personal computer.

Raspberry Pi has its operating system called Raspbian OS. This OS is free to download. To install it we need to first download it and burn it into the micro-SD card using proper tools. Then we need to insert the Micro-SD card into the slot on the raspberry pi board. Now we need to set up the OS using the raspberry pi itself. Now we can use the operating system. Here, we can connect to the internet and download and install different types of software such as browsers, audio, and video players, games, etc. We can also do programming using raspberry pi.

For raspberry pi as well, there are many sensors and modules available. It has its own keyboard and mouse which are made by the Raspberry Pi company. Apart from personal use, Raspberry Pi has more complex applications such as IoT, machine learning, servers, cloud storage, etc.

Conclusion

Arduino and Raspberry Pi are very different. One is a microcontroller development board and the other is a general-purpose computer. Arduino has specific applications whereas Raspberry Pi has a wider scope of applications. But their objective is the same and that is to help engineers and hobbyists in their projects.

Author
Subhrajyoti Choudhury
University of Calcutta, Kolkata

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