The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a new product ‘the Raspberry Pi Compute Module. It’s been more than two years since the first Raspberry Pi was shipped and considering this period orgnisation has done good job.
The new Raspberry Pi Compute Module is based on the SO-DIMM form factor that is popular with DDR2 and DDR3 RAM in many modern laptops, but do not confuse that as being compatible with the SO-DIMM port on your laptop because it is not. The Raspberry Pi foundation says that this new form factor is designed to help makers embed their Raspberry Pi projects into final products.
The compute module contains the guts of a Raspberry Pi (the BCM2835 processor and 512Mbyte of RAM) as well as a 4Gbyte eMMC (MultiMediaCaed) Flash device (which is the equivalent of the SD card in the Pi). This is all integrated on to a small 67.6x30mm board which fits into a standard DDR2 SODIMM connector (the same type of connector as used for laptop memory). The Flash memory is connected directly to the processor on the board, but the remaining processor interfaces are available to the user via the connector pins. You get the full flexibility of the BCM2835 SoC (which means that many more GPIOs and interfaces are available as compared to the Raspberry Pi), and designing the module into a custom system should be relatively straightforward as company have put all the tricky bits onto the module itself.
This board provides both a starting template for those who want to design with the Compute Module, and a quick way to start experimenting with the hardware and building and testing a system before going to the expense of fabricating a custom board.
The Compute Module IO Board is a simple, open-source breakout board that you can plug a Compute Module into. It provides the necessary power to the module, and gives you the ability to program the module’s Flash memory, access the processor interfaces in a slightly more friendly and provides the necessary HDMI and USB connectors so that you have an entire system that can boot Raspbian (or the OS of your choice).
The Compute Module is primarily designed for those who are going to create their own PCB. However, to help designers organisation also launching something called the Compute Module IO Board to help designers get started.
Initially, the Compute Module and IO Board will be available to buy together as the Raspberry Pi Compute Module Development Kit.These kits will be available from RS and element14 some time in June. Shortly after that the Compute Module will be available to buy separately, with a unit cost of around $30 in batches of 100; you will also be able to buy them individually, but the price will be slightly higher.
It relies on a Broadcom ARM processor (the BCM2835) for its computing and this processor is not Open. But Broadcom recently publish an open source version of its graphics driver code and has provided more documentation of the system-on-a-chip’s internals for developers.
By bringing this module that is aimed at a whole new class of devices and applications into market the organisation has clearly took a step ahead.