Is it possible to share some device statistics?


#1

Hi,

Balena is supported on many hardware devices (see https://www.balena.io/docs/reference/hardware/devices/ )

As all devices are registered in the Balena Cloud, it should be possible for the balena team to determine the actual device statistics (which devices types are the most popular).

It would interest me to have a view on this as I am considering to buy a more powerful device than a raspberry pi that is popular in the balena community.

So it would be great to share some info regarding this.
Jan.


#2

Hey @janvda! That’s indeed a good question and something we think quite a bit about.

The large majority of the devices on balenaCloud are Raspberry Pis, followed by (far behind) Intel NUCs (or devices using the NUC image, such as Intel Compute Sticks), the BeagleBone family, and Jetson TX2s. We are also start to see the BalenaFin boards show up in our stats, which is quite cool for an unreleased device. The other device types are pretty much in the long tail. :chart_with_upwards_trend:

As for what hardware to use for your project, it depends on your requirements really (I guess there has to be more than just “power” to consider), if you have some thoughts on what lines you are drawing (in terms of architecture / power / other properties like peripherals), we - or others on the forums! - can recommend stuff more! So is there anything you’d like to expand on that?

In general, there are smaller x86 boards (the UP Board) that can be quite powerful and similar form factor, or other ARM boards that pack more punch (but have smaller communities for information, as of now, which doesn’t reflect on their qualities just their age), or e.g. the Jetson family if you would need GPU compute uses, for example. It’s not really a linear line of power, but it’s a whole multidimensional arrangement. :slight_smile: I think many of these will be a lot more popular in the future (in absolute terms, as in relative terms Raspberry Pi has quite a bit of a lead…


#3

Hi @imrehg, thanks for the extensive response.

For me at this moment I am thinking about a device that compared to a raspberry pi 3 has following characteristics:

  1. more RAM (2 or even 4 GB) - I think that this is needed if you want to run a whole bunch of containers (influxdb, grafana, …)
  2. equally energy efficient - as the device will be running 24x7.
  3. comparable set of a publicly available docker images that can be deployed on it
  4. same stability.
  5. Gbit ethernet
  6. more stable solution to store OS than SD card that has also better IOPS.
  7. Also a proper option to connect a disk drive (USB3.0 or SATA).
  8. … and of course not expensive :slight_smile:

#4

That’s a pretty demanding list, @janvda :smiley: We were thinking about it, and so far our feedback would be:

  • your best candidates are likely x86 devices
    • one of the Intel NUC boxes (though they fail 8., and maybe 2.)
    • probably the UP Board is a very good candidate (IMHO it depends the thresholds of your criterias above)
  • none of the alternative ARM boards that we work with meet the requirements overall (especially in stability, ethernet and connectivity options, also having big enough community with comparable set of docker images to the Raspberry Pi 3). They can be better in individual points, but there’s a lot of future development and experience needed.

These are though just rough ideas/recommendations, it very much depend on you, and would definitely need to get some sample hardware and do testing to see how a certain board matches up for your requirements (for example sometimes I saw some good SDs card having better IOPS then an onboard eMMC, and comparable stability. Thus depends on what are you doing, and need to test…)

Hope this helps, and we are certainly thinking more about what boards we can recommend, this is the perennial question!


#5

Thanks for the extensive repsonse on my demanding list :slight_smile:

The Up board indeed is a very good candidate.

I was also considering the Odroid XU4 ARM board but this one (like alll other ARM alternatives) you have excluded. Just wondering which of my requirements it is actually not meeting very well. Is it the (4) stability or the lack of (3) a comparable set of publicly available docker images ?
I was also thinking that docker images that would run on a raspberry pi would also run on an Odroid XU4 as it is the same type of ARM processor but that might be a too simplistic reasoning.

Anyway thanks a lot for your feedback
Much appreciated
Jan


#6

Hi @janvda,

Currently the Odroid-XU4 board doesn’t meet requirement 6 because the flashing on eMMC is not implemented.

We are running it only from SD card.

Regards!


#7

Thanks for the clear response.