Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W vs Radxa Zero – Features and benchmarks comparison

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W vs Radxa ZeroThe just-announced Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is not the first quad-core Arm SBC following Raspberry Pi Zero form factor, and back in 2017, the Banana Pi BPI-M2 Zero was introduced for $15, and the Radxa Zero was unveiled last June with an Amlogic S905Y2 SoC with price starting at $15 as well.

With its Allwinner H2+ quad-core Cortex-A7 processor clocked at 1 GHz and a price bumped up to $23, the Banana Pi M2 Zero has mostly become irrelevant, but the Radxa Zero may still be considered by some people with a 1.8 GHz processor, and options for up to 4GB RAM, so let’s see how features compare against Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W, followed by some benchmark numbers.

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W vs Raxda Zero – Features

 
Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W
Radxa Zero
SoC/SiP
Raspberry Pi RP3A0 with Broadcom BCM2710A1, 512MB RAM
Amlogic S905Y2
CPU
Quad-core Cortex-A53 @ 1 GHz (overclockable to 1.2 GHz)
Quad-core Cortex-A53 processor @ up to 1.8/2.0 GHz
GPU
VideoCore IV
Arm Mali-G31 MP2
Memory
512MB DDR2
512MB to 4GB LPDDR4
Storage
MicroSD card
MicroSD card
optional 8GB to 128GB eMMC flash
Video & Audio Output
Mini HDMI up to 1080p60
Micro HDMI up to 4Kp60
Camera
MIPI CSI-2 camera connector
N/A
Video
Decoding - H.264 and MPEG-4 up to 1080p30
Encoding - H.264 up to 1080p30
Decoding - H.265 & VP9 up to 4Kp75, AVS2 & H.264 up to 4Kp30
Encoding - H.265, H.264 up to 1080p60
Wireless
802.11 b/g/n WiFi 4, Bluetooth 4.2 LE with PCB antenna
802.11b/g/n WiFi 4 & Bluetooth 4.0 ( Ampak AP6212) OR
802.11n/g/n/ac WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0 ( Ampak AP6256)
USB
Micro USB OTG port
1x USB-C 2.0 OTG port
1x USB-C 3.0 host port
Expansion
40-pin GPIO header (unpopulated)
Optional color-coded 40-pin GPIO header
Power Supply
5V/2.5A (recommended)
via Micro USB port
5V/1A (minimum) via USB-C port
Dimensions
65 x 30 mm
MSRP
$15
$15 to $85 depending on options
Release date
28 October 2021
June 2021
Official operating system
Raspberry Pi OS
Android 9.0, Ubuntu 20.04, Debian 10
Target markets
Novices, education, makers, industrial
with extensive documentation and education materials
Makers and industrial
with documentation in a wiki.

If we just look at the comparison table, the Radxa Zero is equivalent or superior in almost every way, except for people wanting to use the Raspberry Pi camera. We also need to look into the details as Radxa Zero comes in many forms, while there’s only one Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W model.

Radxa Zero variants
Radxa Zero variants

The RS102-D0H is the closest we have to Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W, and it’s still better with the 2 GHz processor, support for 4Kp60 video decoding and output, and the USB 3.0 host port while lacking the MIPI CSI camera. It also sells for the same $15 price tag, but the distribution network is not as extensive as for the Raspberry Pi boards, and some of the SKUs may not be available, especially the $15 model… For instance, Ameridroid is only listing parts with 1GB RAM or more ($21.95), and the next batch is scheduled for early December, while every model is sold out on Allnet.china except for the  RS102-DE16T (2GB/16GB/no GPIO header) for $45.80, and RS102-D4E32H with 4GB RAM, 32GB flash, GPIO header for $55.80. In all fairness, the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is not available worldwide just yet, and I can see the board is only up for pre-order on Sparkfun with a limit to one per person, and no availability ETA. So each board has its own supply issues, and to some extend Radxa Zero has the advantage of being in (limited?) stock for some of the most expensive parts.

While most CNX Software readers will probably have no problem using either board, novices may want to start with the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W since there are more resources to get started, and they will be more course materials for educators.

Zero 2 W vs Raxda Zero Benchmarks

I’ll use benchmarks results from sbc-bench script acquired during my Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W review, while the numbers for Radxa Zero come from sbc-bench’s results “database”.

 
Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W @ 1 GHz
Radxa Zero @ 1.8 GHz
Ratio
(Radxa/Pi Zero)
Memcpy
1302.7 MB/s
1600 MB/s
1.23x
Memset
1635.5 MB/s
5370 MB/s
3.28x
7-zip
3053
4613
1.51x
AES-256 (16 KB block)
30233.94k
839559.85k
27.8x

Memory bandwidth is higher, 21% higher for memcpy probably due to the LPDDR4 used in the Radxa board (vs DDR2 in Pi 0 2), and much higher for memset, although I’m not sure why it’s that much, and comments are welcome. 7-zip is “only”  51% faster despite the 80% higher CPU frequency, while AES-256 is almost 28 times faster. That’s not a mistake, and can be easily be explained as Armv8 crypto extensions are not part of Broadcom BCM2xxx processors used in Raspberry Pi boards, albeit found in most other 64-bit Arm processors on the market. It can impact any using encryption including the use of VPN browsing.

As we’ve seen in the review, the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W can easily be overclocked to 1.2 GHz gaining 20% in CPU performance, but it does not affect memory bandwidth (memcpy). The Amlogic S905Y2 might also be able to run up to 2.0 with proper cooling. I’ll update the table above with graphics benchmarks once/if I have data, but I’d expect the recent Arm Mali-G31 MP2 to perform better than the older VideoCore IV GPU, to what extent I don’t know yet.

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