Is NVIDIA Jetson a valid alternative or better to Raspberry Pi?

Lateral thinking is known as the use of an idea or concept in totally different ways than usual. An example of lateral thinking is the use of technology developed in domestic hardware for computers, telephones and derivatives for other utilities, one of them being the Single Board Computer in which the Raspberry Pi stand out in popularity, well, today we bring you the NVIDIA alternative.

What is NVIDIA Jetson?

Jetson is the brand name for a series of Single Board Computers created by NVIDIA around its Tegra family of SoCs and which are currently intended for use in robotics. World in which disciplines closely related to artificial intelligence, such as computer vision, are on the rise. And is that being an SBC, the NVIDIA Jetson include everything necessary to work on the same board: processors, memory, storage and I / O interfaces.

In other words, the NVIDIA Jetson are boards very similar to the Raspberry Pi, but with a much higher capacity than these in terms of applications related to artificial intelligence. This is because the current Tegra SoCs combine the technology of their PC GPUs where their Tensor Cores shine by their own light with accelerators and specific purpose processors focused on computer vision and combined with powerful ARM cores. The latter can be architectures created by NVIDIA itself or licensed to ARM according to the SoC model we are talking about.

SoC Tegra Orin
That was from their Tegra X2 or also known as Parker, among the changes that NVIDIA implemented in said SoC was the addition of a PCI Express interface to connect an external graphics card. Function used in Drive on-board computers and Clara computers.

So the NVIDIA Jetson are one more product line among many of those sold by the veteran company that are related to its Tegra SoCs, these being the most commercial of all for the general public, but because they are focused on a market Very specific hobbyists have not achieved a large distribution and in some cases can be extremely expensive, costing even more than the most expensive smartphone on the market.

Can I use them as a PC?

Jetson Nano Linux

Since these have CPU, GPU, memory and all the necessary interfaces, you can do it. However, it will not be worth it if you choose one of the newer models, especially the Tegra Xavier, since these NVIDIA Jetson are not only extremely expensive, but because of the fact that you will not be able to take advantage of units like the PVA or the NVDLA being focused on deep learning and computer vision, apart, we insist, they are extremely expensive.

In principle, the hardware that most resembles and that is available on the market is that of the NVIDIA Shield, which is also based on a Tegra model, specifically the X1 and is the same as that of the Nintendo Switch with the The difference is that its clock speeds are not limited and it is an ideal platform as an alternative to the Raspberry Pi as a retro machine and allows things that the popular SBC cannot: emulate consoles like the Nintendo GameCube without problems.

Although in the event that you want to use it as an ARM computer and install GNU / Linux, the best option is the Jetson Nano, which is based on a shortened version of the Tegra X1. Why not use the NVIDIA Shield? The answer to this is simple, for some strange reason the Ubuntu version for the Jetson, L4T or Linux for Tegra SBCs does not work with the standard X1.

NVIDIA Jetson Nano vs Raspberry Pi 4

Jetson Nano Raspberry Pi 4

Okay, you don’t know whether to choose between Jetson Nano and Raspberry Pi 4 to build a PC based on low cost and consumption ARM. So you will be interested to know what advantages you can get from opting for the NVIDIA board. So let’s see what their differences are:

  • The SoC of the Raspberry Pi is a Broadcom BCM2711 with four A72 cores at 1.5 GHz, while the CPU in the Jetson Nano is an A57 at 1.42 GHz. Well, the A72 is a more optimized version than the A57. in terms of power, but it does not perform better for clock speed.
  • Both use LPDDR4 memory, but the Raspberry Pi 4 has a 4GB version, the Jetson Nano does not.
  • In wireless connectivity, the Raspberry Pi 4 has Bluetooth and WiFi as standard. The Jetson Nano, on the other hand, only include Ethernet and you have to buy a separate M.2 card with WiFi.
  • As for their I / O ports, both have ports focused on robotics and the world of hobby electronics.
  • Let’s not forget either that being specific hardware they use specific GNU / Linux distributions.

The big difference in both as you may have guessed is the built-in GPU and that is that there is a huge difference between both graphics processors. Of course, for this you have to take into account the applications that take advantage of the capacity, since paying the difference of 40 dollars for a function that you are not going to use is a waste of money.

Of course, Jetson Nano for its price is a much better option than an NVIDIA Shield Pro that can cost you double and in which you will have to fight for the simple fact of installing the operating system since the operating system that is delivered with the Jetson he gets stubborn and does not want to install on the Shield.

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