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Raspberry Pi Compute Module announced

Raspberry Pi Compute Module announced

The new Raspberry Pi Compute Module, seen docked into the open hardware IO board, packs the power of a Model B into a SODIMM form factor.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the impending launch of a new computer-on-module (CoM) version of its popular low-cost microcomputer, offering all the functionality of the full-sized models in a SODIMM form factor.

Taking the same 67.6mm x 30mm footprint as a laptop memory module, and borrowing the same connector for ease of manufacture, the new Raspberry Pi Compute Module features the same BCM2835 system-on-chip processor and 512MB of RAM as its full-sized equivalent. 4GB of on-board storage is also included, a first for the Pi family.

The Pi's various connectors, however, are spread onto a motherboard which includes full access to the processor's various features. While lacking the network connectivity of the full-size Model B, which requires the use of a USB-connected hub and Ethernet chip external to the BCM2835, the IO board includes access to all the chip's on-board facilities - including its general-purpose input-output (GPIO) capabilities.

Unlike the full-size Pi, the IO board - but not the Compute Module itself - will be released as open hardware, the Foundation has confirmed. This will allow manufacturers to customise the boards for their own requirements, adding in features such as the missing Ethernet connector or building entirely new layouts such as blade-style multi-core boards with multiple Compute Modules. It will also make it easer for manufacturers to consider building commercial products around the Compute module, integrating the more compact design into their boards without the need to find the credit-card footprint needed by the original Pi design.

Here, however, the Pi enters a relatively crowded market. SODIMM-sized computer-on-module boards are nothing new, and the Pi's underpowered ARM processor - a sacrifice made by Broadcom in exchange for surprisingly powerful multimedia capabilities, a feature likely lost on the industrial market - will likely mean an uphill struggle for market share. The Foundation has indicated that it intends to compete on price, and while there are no official figures for the kit which bundles a single module with the IO board it has indicated a unit price of around $30 per unit in trays of 100 for the Compute Module itself.

More details are available on the Raspberry Pi website.

2 Comments

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Saivert 8th April 2014, 13:32 Quote
A shame. One reason my interest in the Pi faded was because of the wrong SoC they picked. The big performance gap between the GPU and CPU is unacceptable and makes it only really suitable for what the foundation originally intended: Teaching kids to code and watch high def video.

Other hardware projects are better for the tinkerer. Arduino Mega, Beaglebone, etc. Yes they cost more but they give you over twice times as much power where it matters for embedded projects.
Gareth Halfacree 8th April 2014, 13:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saivert
A shame. One reason my interest in the Pi faded was because of the wrong SoC they picked.
When Clive Sinclair sent protoge Chris Curry off to head up Science of Cambridge, he told him to help himself to old components from Sinclair Radionics' warehouse. (At the time, Uncle Clive was doing his best to convince the National Enterprise Board to forgo its share in Sinclair Radionics by closing down the company, so a little stock shrinkage was of no importance.) Curry did exactly that, grabbing a box or two of an outdated chip originally used to drive Uncle Clive's calculators before the Japanese and the Chinese muscled their way in with far cheaper offerings. Those chips were used to build the Mk.14, a low-cost microprocessing system for the hobbyist. It was basically a calculator with pretensions, but sales were strong; so strong, in fact, that after Curry left to found Acorn Uncle Clive decided to follow it up with the £99 ZX80 - the world's first truly affordable home computer. The rest, as they say, is history.

Why did I tell you all that? 'Cos that's basically the origin story of the Pi. A Broadcom engineer had a brainwave one day, asked his bosses if they had any real need for the outdated BCM2835s they had cluttering up the warehouse, the bosses said "if you can find a use for 'em, have 'em." The Pi was born, and proved so successful that Broadcom began manufacturing more BCM2835s to meet demand - long after their original market, low-end set-top box manufacturers, had moved on to bigger and better things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saivert
Other hardware projects are better for the tinkerer. Arduino Mega, Beaglebone, etc. Yes they cost more but they give you over twice times as much power where it matters for embedded projects.
This. The Pi has cost on its side, but that lead is being eaten away: the BeagleBone Black isn't much more expensive, and offers far more power and flexibility; then there's the Olimex OLinuXino family which is significantly more powerful and with a fully open hardware design - unlike the locked-down and proprietary Pi.
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