The Raspberry Pi 4B is proof that single board computers are developing in a direction akin to full-size PCs, but there are also smaller packages with still high computing power. Today we discover the Pi Compute Module.

Raspberry Pi Compute Module – solves the problem of a small amount of physical space!

Comparing to Pi CM3+ (the predecessor), at first glance, the Pi Compute Module CM4 board looks different, due to the different component spacing and dimensions (40mm x 55mm instead of CM3+’s 30mm x 70mm), but still – it takes much less space than Pi 4B and not that much more than Pi Zero W (65mm x 30mm). However, we will quickly find out the significant differences from other Raspberry Pi boards. The aim of the Compute Module project was to create a device containing the best practical features of the Raspberry Pi, but in a significantly reduced size to allow the computer to be used in applications with a significantly limited amount of physical space. The designers managed to do this brilliantly. The Compute Module provides the computing power of a full-sized Raspberry Pi 4B in a much smaller size.

Pi 4B power in a much smaller size

The hardware features of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module bear many similarities to those of Raspberry Pi 4B. The most important matter is the same main CPU Broadcom BCM2711 SoC 4x ARM Cortex-A72 64-bit, clocked at 1,5GHz and integrated with FLASH memory, available in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB versions. CM4 Compute Module is equipped with LPDDR4 SDRAM memory, depending on a version with capacity of 1GB, 2GB, 4GB or 8GB. In addition, the GPU supports image processing in 4K with 60FPS frame rate. Like other Raspberry Pi models, the CM4 compute module is based on Raspbian OS (now known as Raspberry Pi OS) software. The Pi CM4 requires the standard Raspberry Pi 5V power supply.

What can you do with a Raspberry Pi Compute Module?

While the Compute Module CM4 has many similarities to the full-sized Pi 4B board, there are also some significant differences. CM4 has been deprived of the standard goldpin header for GPIO interfacing, HDMI and USB connectors. Instead, the designers used two 100-pin Hirose DF40C-type connectors, which again – is a different thing than the SO-DIMM 200-pin connector used in Pi CM3+. Among the pins of those connectors, we can find widely-used digital hardware communication interfaces, for example UART, SPI and I2C and 1,8V, 3,3V and 5,0V power pins too. Hardware parameters of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module comes with very good hardware performance. Thanks to this RPi CM computer can be successfully used in the designs and applications in which the full-size Raspberry Pi models are used, too. GPIO connectors also include PWM outputs for controlling DC motors and LED lighting. If You want to use the Pi CM4 in a similar way as regular Pi 4B, then getting the Raspberry Pi CM4IO extension board is a good idea. This boards provides standard connectors such as 1Gb/s Ethernet, DSI, CSI, PCIe and two HDMI 2.0 connectors. Compute Module CM4 can be used in numerous projects in the field of robotics, smart home, security systems, computing clusters and wherever, due to limited physical space, it is not possible to install a full-size Raspberry Pi 4B board. The major drawback of Pi CM4 is a narrowed working temperature range – while the Pi CM3+ can be used in range of -40°C to +85°C, the Pi CM4 can be used only in range of 0°C to +80°C. For this reason, despite its high computing power, the Pi CM4 may not function properly in harsh industrial environments, but still can be used in most professional purposes at room temperature. If you want to buy the original Pi Compute Module CM4 board, check out Botland Store, which is the official distributor of Raspberry Pi.