A5 Raspberry Pi Compute Module Development Kit
Make Way For A More Flexible, Business-Focused Raspberry Pi
Posted by Natasha Lomas (@riptari)
Raspberry Pi Compute Module Development Kit
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Raspberry Pi is adding a new hardware module to its line-up specifically aimed at businesses and industrial users.
The forthcoming module — which is called the Compute Module and will be available some time after this June — will contain the Pi’s BCM2835 processor, 512Mbyte of RAM and a 4Gbyte eMMC Flash device all mounted on a 67.6x30mm board (pictured above) that fits into a standard DDR2 SODIMM connector.
The Compute Module is primarily aimed at those wanting to create their own PCB, says the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s engineering team. But they will also be releasing a Compute Module IO Board – this break-out board (pictured below) will provide power and the ability to program the Compute Module’s Flash memory. It will also have connectors, such as HDMI and USB, so you can easily access and start experimenting with the hardware.
The original $35/$25 Raspberry Pi microcomputer sold a truck load more units than the couple of thousand its not-for-profit Cambridge-U.K. creators imagined they would ship when they came up with the concept of making a low-cost bareback board for helping kids to learn to code.
Global sales of Pi passed 2.5 million last month, when the original Pi turned two years old. As it turned out, the Pi proved plenty popular with groups of existing techies and makers, not just as an educational tool to encourage tech savvy — hence the greater volume of sales vs what the Pi Foundation expected.
Businesses have also seen the potential of Pi. One example of a startup that’s using Pi’s low-cost potential to power a hardware business idea is enterprise networking monitoring company NetBeez, for example.
That wider audience and application for Pi is something the Foundation is looking to better serve with the launch of the Compute Module, it said today.
We are… aware that there are a very significant number of users out there who are embedding the Raspberry Pi into systems and even commercial products. We think there needs to be a better way to allow people to get their hands on this great technology in a more flexible form factor, but still keep things at a sensible price.
The price for the new Compute Module Pi will be $30 when buying in batches of 100, or “slightly more” for an individual unit price.
Initially, the Compute Module and IO Board will be sold together, in a bundle called the Raspberry Pi Compute Module Development Kit. Those kits will be available from Pi’s distributors, RS and element14, in June, with the Compute Module available to buy separately “shortly” afterwards.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has unveiled a new version of its eponymous single-board computer, shrinking it down further to a board that fits into a small outline dual in-memory module (So-Dimm) socket for integration into a project by business and industrial users as well as hobbyists.
Due to be available from June, the Raspberry Pi Compute Module contains the same functional components as the original Raspberry Pi – principally the Broadcom BCM2835 system on a chip (SoC) with its integrated 512MB RAM – but adds a 4GB eMMC flash storage chip.
The flash storage is necessary because the Raspberry Pi Compute Module is much smaller than the original Pi, and lacks the SD card slot, which is used to boot the system from a flash memory card holding an operating system image.
However, using the So-Dimm form factor and connector means that many more of the processor input/output (I/O) functions are available for the user to connect to external hardware when integrating it into a project.
James Adams, director of hardware for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, wrote on the organisation's blog: "You get the full flexibility of the BCM2835 SoC (which means that many more GPIOs [general purpose I/O] and interfaces are available, as compared to the Raspberry Pi), and designing the module into a custom system should be relatively straightforward as we've put all the tricky bits onto the module itself."