Raspberry Pi Foundation has launched Compute Module 3 (CM3), offering twice the RAM and 10 times the CPU performance of its original Compute Module (CM).
Announcing CM3 in a blog post this week, Raspberry Pi Foundation COO, James Adams, said the team wanted to give developers the same processing power as the Raspberry Pi 3 for their IoT designs, in a cost-effective and easy to use product.
The standard CM3 is based on Raspberry Pi 3 hardware, with a BCM2837 processor at up to 1.2GHz with 1GB RAM, and 4GB of on-module eMMC flash. A second version, known as Compute Module 3 Lite (CM3L), has the same BCM2837 and 1Gbyte of RAM, but brings the SD card interface to the Module pins so a user can wire this up to an eMMC or SD card of their choice.
Powering the IoT with CM3
Raspberry Pi is popular for those learning to program the IoT because it provides a complete Linux server in a tiny platform at an extremely low cost.
Typical IoT use cases have been things like Pi in the Sky and Pirate Box. However, the Compute Module has often been regarded as “the black sheep of the Raspberry Pi family” – as Hackaday’s Brian Benchoff has dubbed it – due to its limited use case.
It served home media players, industrial control systems and other devices that didn’t require complete connectivity, but the CM3 is notably more powerful.
What’s more, Adams was keen to point out that Japanese hardware vendor, NEC, will be adding the Compute Module to their next-generation large-format displays for presentation and signage software. You can learn more about that here.
But whether more companies choose to use CM3 “remains up in the air” according to Benchoff.
What we do know is that some of those who know and love Raspberry Pi tools are excited by the CM3. Internet of Business spoke to ‘The Raspberry Pi Guy‘ Matthew Timmons-Brown, who said the new release is “fantastic news to the developers and companies who are choosing to use Raspberry Pi at the heart of their products and systems” due to its “unashamedly” juiced up features.
“With this extra processing power, I think that the CM3 will see considerable use in the IoT world,” he said. “As a fully-configurable piece of hardware, it allows nearly any functionality to be built around the tried-and-tested Raspberry Pi platform. Whether this is smart digital signage or IoT data collection and interaction – the Compute Module 3 will be a powerful weapon in any developer’s IoT arsenal.”
Leveling the playing field for the ‘team in a garage’
According to Adams, “The idea of the Compute Module was to provide an easy and cost-effective route to producing customized products based on the Pi hardware and software platform. The thought was to provide the ‘team in a garage’ with easy access to the same technology as the big guys.”
At a price of just $30 for the CM3 and $25 for the CM3L this is certainly possible. Furthermore, Adams was keen to point out that this launch will not render the original CM obsolete.
He said: “The CM3 is largely backwards-compatible with CM1 designs which have followed our design guidelines. The caveats are that the Module is 1mm taller than the original Module, and the processor core supply (VBAT) can draw significantly more current. Consequently, the processor itself will run much hotter under heavy CPU load, so designers need to consider thermals based on expected use cases.”