The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced its new Compute Module 3 (CM3) on Jan. 16, providing internet of things (IoT) device makers with a powerful new option for embedded compute capabilities.
The CM3 should not be confused with the Raspberry Pi's namesake device, which had its last major update in February 2016 with the debut of the Raspberry Pi 3 device. The Raspberry Pi is a small form-factor ARM-powered computer that was originally developed in 2012 as a way to help both kids and adults learn about computer science.
The Compute Module was first launched in April 2014 as a Raspberry Pi form factor specifically targeted at industrial and business users. Rather than being a completely standalone device, as is the case with the Raspberry Pi, the Compute Module is a module that is intended to plug into a separate Printed Circuit Board (PCB). The basic idea behind the Compute Module is to help developers and vendors quickly develop customized products.
The new CM3 is based on the Raspberry Pi 3 and uses the same Broadcom ARM BCM2837 system-on-a-chip (SoC). The BCM2837 is based on the ARM Cortex-A53 design and is a 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core chip. The standard CM3 also includes 4 Gigabytes of on-module eMMC flash memory.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation also is debuting a new Compute Module 3 Lite (CM3L) version, which enables users to wire up their own eMMC memory or SD card interface. The CM3L also uses a BCM2837 SoC, though it only has 1 Gigabyte of on-board RAM.
As part of the new Compute Module launch, there also is a new Compute Module IO Board V3 (CMIO3), providing developers with a starter breakout board for connecting the Compute Module.
"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," James Adams, COO and COO and Hardware Lead at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, wrote in a blog post.
While the Raspberry Pi Foundation is only now announcing the CM3, consumer electronics vendor NEC has had early access to the module and is already using it in new next generation large-format displays.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.