Ever since Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 was released back in October 2020, the module has always been in short supply despite early efforts to get ahead of demand. But after hearing that an estimated 40-50% of all Raspberry Pi boards are used in industrial applications, the scale of the challenge is justifiable, even in the absence of an international chip shortage.
Seeed now has a fresh but limited supply of Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 in 4 flavors; from the $25 1GB base-board to 2GB WiFi and BLE versions.
What are Raspberry Pi Compute Modules and what makes them so desirable?
The Raspberry Pi compute modules are not be the most recognizable or easy-to-use members of the Pi family but they are designed to cater to a very specific sector: industrial applications.
The Compute Codule series of boards are the bare bones of the Raspberry Pi with the same chipset and largely the same features, just without all the ports and associated circuitry. Industrial users can then design a carrier board specific to their product needs by cherry-picking the required interfaces and features while leaving out the rest.
CM4 is the latest compute module and it uses the same 64-bit quad-core BCM2711 processor as the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B as well as boasting additional features such as onboard eMMC memory, PCIe Gen 2 support and a U.FL antennae connector, useful if an industrial enclosure is blocking signals.
Compared to the Compute Module 3+, CM4 is a breakthrough in terms of performance and features. With the Cortex A72 chip, CM4 clocks in at 1.5GHz compared to 1.2GHz, and for the first time in the series, includes an onboard Gigabit Ethernet controller and Wi-Fi and BLE connectivity to name just a few.
The Compute Module 4 also marks a major change in the series’ form factor and board-to-board connection style. CM4 does away with the bulky SODIMM RAM-style connector in favor of a discreet HAT-esque mezzanine connection using two separate high-density connectors underneath the board. By separating the connectors to either side of the board, Raspberry Pi engineers were able to route the traces more efficiently and squeeze more into less board space. When also factoring in the amount of real estate occupied by the RAM connector, the CM4 module is around 20% smaller compared to its predecessors.
The brand new form factor and wealth of new features has caused a surge in new carrier board designs as developers seek to cram in desirable features of 4th Gen. Raspberry Pi to new connected devices and update existing ones.
Raspberry Pi also went a step further with CM4 by making 32 variants of the boards available, each with a different combination of RAM and eMMC storage, with or without wireless connectivity, allowing engineers to select a Pi perfect for the job without paying for excesses.
As with every Compute Module generation, Raspberry Pi releases an input-output board for development with CM4. With the 4th generation, Raspberry Pi engineers released KiCad design files for the I/O board alongside the board, making it easier for designers to extract the parts they need and build their own carrier board.
Seeed and Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4
Seeed’s reTerminal Human-Machine Interface (HMI), was one of the first complete products to showcase the capabilities of the CM4 and the more handheld-friendly form factor. Seeed also released the Dual Gigabit Ethernet board for CM4, a carrier board designed to make the most of CM4’s high-speed Gigabit Ethernet while preserving the USB 3.0 ports that were left out on the official CM4 I/O board.
Seeed achieved Raspberry Pi approved Design Partner status last month but has been designing and manufacturing Raspberry Pi products for most of its 12-year history. Now, as an Approved Design Partner, Seeed receives direct support from Raspberry Pi and is recommended by them to take on Raspberry Pi designs. Every Approved Design Partner undergoes rigorous auditing to ensure that they have the technical and commercial abilities to design Raspberry Pi products to industry standards.
However, Seeed is not just a reseller and design partner; Seeed also produces the products in-house. Seeed Fusion’s Turnkey PCBA service can take a client’s design, whether designed with Seeed’s assistance or not, and turn it into a physical product, taking care of everything from PCB manufacture, parts procurement and assembly.
As an Approved Reseller, Approved Design Partner and experienced producer of Raspberry Pi products, Seeed is the ideal partner to handle the manufacture of your Compute Module 4 product. Whether it’s being able to share limited supplies of CM4 with its clients, provide support from experienced carrier board engineers or just maintain ample stock of common Raspberry Pi essentials such as the specialized mezzanine board to board connectors, Seeed is primed to ensuring that your CM4 product is realized efficiently to the highest standards
Seeed Fusion Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 Sponsorship
To further support carrier board development, Seeed also released a special sponsorship program aimed at CM4 carrier boards. For industrial and commercial projects, designers can get up to $500 off their carrier boards when they manufacture them with Seeed Fusion PCB Assembly (PCBA) service. Designs do not need to be open-sourced and NDA-agreements are available.
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Since 2008, Seeed Studio® has always been committed to providing developers around the world with faster and higher-quality manufacturing services. Our mission is to make hardware more accessible and lower the boundaries of hardware innovation. From free Design for Assembly service, to free functional testing for one piece, Seeed Fusion PCB Assembly service focuses on providing customers with fast and high-quality one-stop prototyping and batch manufacturing services.