Puffin Cloud Learning Renders Web Pages Up to 14 Times Faster on Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a great little Arm Linux board designed for STEM education. But with many children now have to learn remotely, the board would be useful as a computer replacement, but users may find web browsing on the Raspberry Pi to be rather sluggish.

Puffin Cloud Learning is designed just for that use case and promises to make the Raspberry Pi SBC much faster for web browsing, and they tested several websites, and for instance, CNN website loads almost 14 times faster with the Puffin Internet Terminal compared to using Chromium only.

Puffin Cloud Learning Raspberry Pi

How is that possible? Simple: the Raspberry Pi is simply used as a thin client with complex web rendering performed on the company’s encrypted cloud servers where a JavaScript engine is used to pre-process and compress web pages sent to the Raspberry Pi.

The company also claims Puffin Internet Terminal is 1200% faster than Chromium using Octane 2.0 and Apple Jetstream benchmarks as examples with a Puffin accelerated Raspberry Pi even vastly outperforming a $350 HP Pavilion DM3 Laptop.

Puffin Cloud Learning Octane Jetstream Web Benchmarks

That’s impressive but is that really true? TomHardware gave it a try on Raspberry Pi 4, and while they noticed Puffin Internet Terminal was slightly faster at rendering the page it was a far cry from a 1200% improvement. Let’s watch the video shared by Puffin comparing Chromium and Puffin before commenting further.

Your browser does not support the video tag.https://www.puffin.com/imgs/puffin_vs_chromium_1280.mp4

The Raspberry Pi board looks really sluggish, which makes me believe they went with a Raspberry Pi Model B board using Broadcom BCM2835 ARM11 processor. It makes sense from a marketing perspective, and they are not directly lying because the slower the Raspberry Pi the faster the difference will be. Rendering a page in Chromium requires lots of processing power and memory (so the Pi may also be swapping a bit) while using Puffin is likely more akin to rendering a photo / screenshot.

If you want to give it a try check out the product page. It looks free to use, and you just need to flash the provided image to a MicroSD card, but they may be inserting ads in web pages (See eBay pages in the video above).  Alternatively, there’s also a Puffin Web Browser for Android, and recent reviews are fairly negative due to disconnection issues. CloudMesa, the company behind the project, may experience growing pains with the amount of processing power in their Cloud potentially not quite sufficient to keep up with the demand.

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5 Replies to “Puffin Cloud Learning Renders Web Pages Up to 14 Times Faster on Raspberry Pi”

  1. I just tried the puffin web browser Android as you mentioned. I also noticed it only allows me 360 or 720p YouTube playback.

  2. That’s totally misleading claim from the company. They are talking about $35 Raspberry Pi and yet they did their benchmarketing against older much slower Raspberry Pi when you and I can buy the latest one at that same price ($35) with much better spec.

  3. If you want to run JSLinux on Raspberry Pi Zero, or an ancient Android phone, at good speed, then yes, this works great. It gives you browser performance equivalent to about at 3.6GHz Skylake desktop, and you can even play old flash games.

    The other thing to bear in mind is that all sites you visit with Puffin are also decrypted and seen by Puffin. That is, Puffin is a Man In The Middle. So if you don’t care at all for your privacy, enjoy handing over your passwords and banking sites and everything else you do online to a third party who have no other way to make money than by stealing your data… then by all means, use Puffin.

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