Roon Server on an ARM based "faster alternative" to RPi?

(Steve Mato) #1

I know RPi based hardware isnt up to the task of running Roon Server/Core, just the Bridge (I run a couple of RoPieees). And you only have Linux builds of the Bridge software, not the Core.

I’m perfectly happy with my Roon Core on a previous gen NUC i5 and what it cost me. I just keep seeing all these “faster than RPi” ARM based boards being released. Just a curiosity. As time and Moore’s Law marches on, when do you – @support Roon Developers – think you will be releasing the Core for an ARM based board?

(Edward) #2

I have a “faster than RPi” board…the ASUS Tinkerboard, it could handle the Roon Core no problem. I’ve install the Roon core on a MiniITX board with equal spec’s as the ASUS and the MiniITX board had no problems.

I suspect Roon will shoot this idea down and give some reason to support their decision though

(Sean) #3

If Support are able to answer this “when” question with a date, I’d like them to also PM me the six winning numbers for this week’s upcoming lottery please… :grin:

All said in good fun of course.

(Edward) #4

Its only a matter of dependencies being available for ARM as they are for x86 computers.

I’d say they are, as most dependencies seem to be available for both these days. Therefore its just Roon blocking support for ARM during the install process.

For example Raspotify was/is only for Rpi, but can be made to work on other boards IF you change the install file a bit. And the only reason it won’t work on x86 computers is because of one dependency not being met.

(Sean) #5

Completely understood. Just getting it to work is one thing. Satisfactory performance may be another thing though.

(Edward) #6

You bet.

A system query would solve that in a flash. Just query for minimum standards, if met install, if not don’t.

As it stands, anyone could install Linux on a x86 computer that doesn’t meet those standards BUT will be able to install Roon Core. This is a flaw imo.

If Roon wants to ensure a minimum level of performance based on system resources then this check is a must.

(Sean) #7

Noted. For background, my (bad) joke about sending me the winning upcoming lotto numbers was about predicting the date for when an ARM based Pi-like device will offer satisfactory performance for running Roon Server.

Maybe 3 years from now, it won’t be hard to predict this date, the way things are going.

(Edward) #8

See my original post…I have one, the ASUS Tinkerboard. It has similar specs as my MiniITX board running Linux x86. Running desktop, its just as fast if not faster than my MiniITX board. The MiniITX board runs Roon Core just fine using Debian. I can install Debian on my ASUS too, but not Roon :wink:

(Sean) #9

Nice! I haven’t tried a Tinkerboard yet.

My comment about satisfactory performance may have a subjective element too. I have a Celeron based computer that can run Roon Server but my (subjective) experience using Roon with it is a sh!t one, compared to my NUC7I7DNHE running RoonOS (via ROCK).

So it works on the Celeron and it may be ok for someone else but I found the experience to be sh!t (subjectively).

I guess further expanding my (bad) joke, it’s about when an ARM based Pi-like device will match the kind of performance I get with my NUC7i7DNHE. We’ll get there one day I’m sure. But who knows when.

(Edward) #10

I suppose a Celeron can’t match the performance of the NUC7I7DNHE.

But then my low powered MiniITX can’t match my current server…3.5Ghz i7 w/16G Ram.

I see your point, its going to be difficult to match 3+Ghz CPU power and tons of Ram.

(Sean) #11

Things are progressing so quickly, if we revisit this 3 years from now, it may be interesting!

(Steve Mato) #12

I thought it was a good joke! :wink:

My opinion is the experience is sufficiently excellent on a NUC7i5BNH as well. The i5 variant of the NUC7 isn’t all that much slower than the i7, but slower nonetheless.

I do use a M.2 NVME SSD for the OS, Roon Core & its DB w/the music binaries on a spinning drive. Use of NVME for the runtime is a significant factor to a performative experience and I’d require that of any ARM based board if/when ever that comes to pass.

(Sean) #13

Thanks Steve! I was a bit worried that maybe it would be interpreted as being dismissive of your fair question to Support.

They are the experts and I’m sure they will answer in due course but I’m not sure even Brian (the CTO) can predict a date for when an ARM based Pi-like device can give the performance of your excellent NUC7i5BNH.

Unless he has friends in the industry and they’ve shared with him, something like a 5 year lookahead for where things are headed. Then maybe he can guesstimate a date but it’d be a guess. Who knows what Roon will require 5 years from now. Our Roon Cores/Servers might all be in the Cloud by then!

I’m sure we’ll get there but predicting a date might be the tough part.


Is Mono available for ARM CPUs? Without that, it’s a non-starter for Roon on ARM.

Supporting multiple CPU architectures also has a cost in terms of support and developer resources. It’s a bit chicken-and-egg, but without a substantial number of ARM-based Roon Core users, that cost probably isn’t warranted… I’d rather they be working on new features than supporting an alternate CPU architecture, personally.

(JohnV) #15

Roon’s position on tinkering is this: go for it, but don’t expect support. :grin:

My (good) guess is that they have already specced out minimum requirements for a Core vehicle, and they probably won’t look at this again until there is a significant performance or cost shift.

And my (even better) guess is that, should they walk down your chosen alley, they will not pre-announce or give deadlines.

My purpose here is only to give you a heads up on this. No judgement or ill wishes implied. Peace.


Running Roon Core well requires more than CPU power: RAM and I/O are equally important, and those are the areas in which most single board computers (SBCs) fall down. I own a Tinkerboard; it makes a great Roon Bridge (I’m running DietPi), but I wouldn’t want to run Core on it…

(Brian Luczkiewicz) #17

We have no concrete plans to do this. I suspect that there will be a good reason to one day, but we/the world are not there.

Having a bunch of people trying to run Roon on inadequate ARM platforms (this would happen immediately if we released an ARM core for hobbyist oriented boards) would push the product in a direction of economization/reduced ambition/reduced functionality that we do not like.

From a business standpoint supporting tinkerer-oriented ARM devices for the Core doesn’t appear to help us much. We like to turn computing power into user experience. The product is still growing. It’s not time to put the dampers on that by introducing support for a constrained platform that we think will be popular.

When this thread came up, I hoped someone had a really interesting ARM board in mind. Something with 6-8 cores at 2GHz+, a Cortex A72 or A73, 4GB+ of RAM, PCIe SSD support. Good SATA/USB3/GigE support without bus bottlenecks.

The A17 Tinkerboard with 2GB doesn’t really tick those boxes.

I’ve seen a couple of platforms from Marvell that were interesting enough to make me want to try them out (not stuff from the hobbyist market…more like ARM bladeserver/NAS SoCs). Nothing at the level of a fast NUC, but some that seemed close enough. These are, of course, not much cheaper than a NUC and are less convenient…so no point right now.


You can get some very beefy ARM-based servers. But these are aimed at the Enterprise and quite expensive. 244 threads, up to 4TB RAM, etc. But that’s not what the average home user will bring to the table when they think “ARM Roon Core”… :slight_smile:

(Steve Mato) #19

Much thanx for taking time out of your day or evening to consider this.

Yes, understood. I didn’t think we were there presently, but also wasn’t sure. My Chome homepage on my phone shows me things to click on it thinks I am interested in. And it seems “better than NUC” and “better than RPi” systems or boards are one of those things [very big lol] . So got me wondering if folks there had done a ‘gap analysis’ of sorts and were forecasting a time when it would be put on your backlog to be imminent or far off. ( I do gather the answer to that is, no )

Whatever the answer may be, I have little skin in the game, really. Only doing some planning myself of what type of hardware & software I may want to deploy it on if/when I build a system for friends. The consideration being cost. Knowing that my friends dont want to spend what I have on a dedicated roon core server (even if I found that to be within reason), thinking the ARM SOC route would be more to their liking cost wise.

Thanx again.

(Paul Whittaker) #20

Hi Brian,

Have you considered the NVidia shield TV? It has Nvidia’s X1 mobile chip inside and is very capable and at present runs Plex server easily.

It has gigabit LAN, HDMI, USB 3.0 and can be bought for a very reasonable price also.

Wouldn’t want support to hinder development of the software though.