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Raspberry Pi Compute Module Release

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the brand-new dept.

Programming 51

First time accepted submitter ControlsGeek (156589) writes "The Raspberry Pi Foundation has developed a new product. It is basically a Raspberry Pi model A processor, memory, and flash memory on a DDR2-style SODIMM connector. Also available will be a development board that breaks out all the internal connections. The board design will be open sourced so you can develop your own devices using the BCM2835 processor. No network, but support for 2 HDMI displays and 2 cameras, so 3D TV is a possibility.

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Different use case than standard RPI (5, Informative)

Radium_ (150865) | about 5 months ago | (#46685709)

As discussed on the Raspberry forum, there is some integrated memory, but no USB or Ethernet are present.
Liz from the RPI foundation writes that "there’s much more IO, so you can add your own . The idea here is that it’s the barest minimum, so folks working on industrial applications can add the ports and extra connectivity they need."

Re:Different use case than standard RPI (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46685743)

Sounds like a good fit for ATM machines.

Re:Different use case than standard RPI (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 5 months ago | (#46691265)

No, it needs to be able to run Windows 95 to be used as an ATM, at least in the US.

Re:Different use case than standard RPI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46692863)

No, it needs to be able to run Windows 95 to be used as an ATM, at least in the US.

Problem solved then, the Pi will run Win95 under QEMU. I'm not sure if the increase in responsiveness would be acceptable in an ATM.

Re:Different use case than standard RPI (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 5 months ago | (#46686101)

The idea here is that itâ(TM)s the barest minimum, so folks working on industrial applications can add the ports and extra connectivity they need.

I thought the purpose of the Raspberry Pi foundation was for education, not to produce embedded hardware for industrial control developers. Yes, the latter was a side effect of the former, but this new board is hardly an educational tool anymore.

Re:Different use case than standard RPI (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46686175)

Why not both? I could see students using this to control a robot. Use only the requires pins and connect it directly without the IO board and its a much better solution than then original RPi. Less power since you won't need USB/ethernet if you're just tapping the GPIO pins.

Seems like there's lot of potential.

Re:Different use case than standard RPI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46686251)

I think they think of this as more of a fund raiser, a way to make money to support their charity. Makes sense, something like this could be both higher profit and higher volume.

It takes profit to fund the non-profits of the world.

Re:Different use case than standard RPI (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 5 months ago | (#46686275)

TFA:

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity, and as with everything we make here, all profits are pushed straight back into educating kids in computing.

...so it's a little less direct, but no great loss.

Re:Different use case than standard RPI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46687449)

TFA:

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity, and as with everything we make here, all profits are pushed straight back into educating kids in computing.

...so it's a little less direct, but no great loss.

Actually, it's just as direct as the original Raspberry Pi. The profits from that as well as this CM go straight in to the Foundations charitable stuff. It's just another income stream.

Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46685737)

will it run Linux?

Re:Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46685805)

Do bears shit in the woods?

Re:Yes, but... (1, Interesting)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46685887)

Doesn't the Pi run Linux now? If so, the answer is YES, why wouldn't it?

BUT, More RAM please sir... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46685787)

Well, I love this, but can we PLEASE get more RAM or at least the ability to add some more in somehow? The Pi is limited to 512Meg and so is this new format.

Re:BUT, More RAM please sir... (5, Informative)

psergiu (67614) | about 5 months ago | (#46686585)

The BMC chip can access 1GB of RAM, but unfortunatelly 512MB is the largest size currently produced in that form-factor (Chip-on-Chip BGA DDR1).
And the Raspberry Pi Foundations does not buy RAM chips in enough volume to justify to any vendor a custom made memory chip at that price.
So we're stuck with 512MB ... unless this new SODIMM form-factor is so succesful that they have enough volume to get that custom 1GB chip made for them at the same price as the current 512MB one.

Re:BUT, More RAM please sir... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46688493)

Ummm.. So provide a chip and mount one on the board? Surely BMC has a part in mind for this. Or are you saying NOBODY makes a way to connect the BMC part to 1 GB of RAM?

Re:BUT, More RAM please sir... (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about 5 months ago | (#46689063)

Currently, the RAM is actually on top of the CPU/GPU in a Package-on-package arrangement. It's the way that the SoC is designed and provided by Broadcom. The only way to provide 1GB of RAM seems to be to redesign the whole board and separate the RAM from the CPU (trading off speed for capacity).

Re:BUT, More RAM please sir... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46689065)

That's correct.

Re:BUT, More RAM please sir... (1)

Agripa (139780) | about 5 months ago | (#46696019)

Ummm.. So provide a chip and mount one on the board? Surely BMC has a part in mind for this. Or are you saying NOBODY makes a way to connect the BMC part to 1 GB of RAM?

As far as I can tell from the sparse documentation available, the BCM2835 lacks an external memory bus so a different processor with a different package and/or pinout would be necessary. This makes sense for a chip intended for embedded controller applications.

I have no idea if Broadcom makes a suitable alternative. Their web site reads like a marketing brochure promising everything without details about what they actually make and sell. They would never be my first choice and they remind me of dealing with nVidia.

How about a backplane? (2)

nbritton (823086) | about 5 months ago | (#46685793)

How much compute power do these guys have, would it be worthwhile to produce a backplane to run several of them in parallel? What about for redundancy in mission critical applications?

Re:How about a backplane? (5, Informative)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46685879)

How much compute power do these guys have, would it be worthwhile to produce a backplane to run several of them in parallel? What about for redundancy in mission critical applications?

They have an IO board that can run ONE of these, but you don't just toss multiple processors on the same bus to get redundancy. The CPU and inter-processor communication setup is going to be an issue you'd have to work out, not to mention the OS support for redundancy or Mufti-Processor operation. Neither the hardware or software problems are always straight forward...

Good luck and let me know when you get it working. I'd love to have one or two.

Re:How about a backplane? (2)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 5 months ago | (#46687477)

One of the previous times that Raspberry Pis came up in conversation around here I heard of a guy who set up a Hadoop cluster running on a number of Pis.
It's possible, and educational, but the throughput is simply not significant to justify.

Sure, they're cheap. But putting a bunch next to each other won't give you all the processing power you've ever dreamed of.

Re:How about a backplane? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46688445)

Hadoop on a Pi? LOL Yea, that was destine to be a performance nightmare.

If you can go to DIRECT inter-processor communications and bypass all the load sucking USB 2.0 Ethernet connection business, not to mention having to go though the SAME USB connection for your storage, Hadoop might actually be able to do something for you on a pile of Pis. As it is, all that USB interrupt servicing is going to be a real bottleneck. Not that I'd suggest Hadoop on the Pi to start with....

Re:How about a backplane? (3, Interesting)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 5 months ago | (#46686021)

You meant to say "Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these" didn't you?

Re:How about a backplane? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 5 months ago | (#46687531)

Funny that you should say that. I am pretty sure that meme started off when the uCSimm story was posted on slashdot a long time ago.

Re:How about a backplane? (2)

stor (146442) | about 5 months ago | (#46689273)

You don't need to simply imagine it:

http://hackaday.com/2013/05/21... [hackaday.com]

Complete with blinkenflashen!

Re:How about a backplane? (1)

E241R (3613421) | about 5 months ago | (#46731379)

You meant to say "Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these" didn't you?

Beowolf - I've heard of that. I think that the poem, Beowolf, has an old vernacular. The computing concept, however - with the term, "cluster," appended - there is a Wikipedia page.[1] As far as clustering with RPi, there's the proof of concept work at the U. Southampton[2].

Personally, I would inquire "MPICH or OpenMPI?" There is some proof of concept work towards the latter on RPi[3]. I'm not sure if it would be of a lot of use outside of C programs, but maybe.

Of course, there would be the question, "What for?" I'm sure Open Science Grid might not be in the market for just any odd item of hacking stuff, for instance, they would certainly have all the resources they need for making predictive, if no pessimistic global climate change models. Personally I'm not sure if PVM would be used for much else, in computing. I'll just not comment about the big monolith of a building in DC, at that, LoL. (I'm not sure how Hadoop might factor onto parallel computing, after all)

Maybe an RPi Compute Supercluster could be used for a bit of AI prototyping, with the old Common Lisp language and an Artificial Neural Network model, specifically after Adaptive Resonance Theory?

In the hardware, I wonder, could a few RPi Compute Modules communicate via a serial protocol to a central chatterbox on a single Compute Supercluster board? The chatterbox, then, could communicate with a "master chatterbox" via PCI. Would that be too naive of a design, I wonder?

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... [wikipedia.org]
[2] http://www.southampton.ac.uk/~... [southampton.ac.uk]
[3] http://rhinohide.wordpress.com... [wordpress.com]

Re:How about a backplane? (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 4 months ago | (#46741659)

Never has "You must be new here" felt more appropriate. [slashdot.org]

Re:How about a backplane? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#46686211)

The top speed of Videocore IV programmable units is supposed to be 24 GFLOPS, but of course that's with all the execution units running FMACs all the time or something like that. Anything actually useful will be limited by memory bandwidth. The ARM core is dual-issue, so expect something like...what, 1000-1200 MIPS at 700 MHz in real world? I'm not sure what the FPU is capable of, but the SoC is really, really old.

Re:How about a backplane? (1)

psergiu (67614) | about 5 months ago | (#46686843)

It depends.

How about a 1U rack-mounted box, with redundant PSUs, hosting around a hundred of Pi SODIMMs, with a USB-Ethernet chip for each slot, every X (7..24) ethernet lines connected to a switch chip with a gigabit uplink on the back of the enclosure.

Current RPi USB-Ethernet is slow because of the USB-HUB-and-Ethernet chip used. You won't have a USB hub in this configuration, and you can use a better USB-ETH chip.

Also you don't need a single, huge, expensive PCB. You can have multiple small PCBs side by side each one hosting just X (see above) cards.

Put a small switch next to each RPi DIMM slot on the board so you can power them off and replace-them online.

Need more local storage for each node ? - you can have a SD-Card slot next to each Pi slot - there are 46 GPIO available pins for those kind of extras (RTC, temperature, front panel leds & reset button for each RPi DIMM)

And Liz just let slip in the announcement comments that Broadcom might enable some extra functionality (ETH, SATA or other fast interconnect) on those extra pins.

PI-nsta-cluster.

Re:How about a backplane? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 5 months ago | (#46690377)

For pretty much every single problem set that exists, you would be better off with a typical 1U Xeon server with a good chunk of memory. For redundancy, you add a second 1U Xeon server.

Re:How about a backplane? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#46689111)

No, it would not be worthwhile, unless you were using them mostly for their GPUs. The RPi CPU is not super-slow, but it's not really competitive. And you'd need to come up with all the glue logic.

The Children (1)

otterpop81 (784896) | about 5 months ago | (#46685937)

How does this help the children? That's what RPi is all about, right?

Re:The Children (2)

olsmeister (1488789) | about 5 months ago | (#46686043)

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity, and as with everything we make here, all profits are pushed straight back into educating kids in computing.

Re:The Children (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#46686703)

How does this help the children?

1. By generating money to support educational programs.
2. By getting more people involved in improving the RP ecosystem.

Re:The Children (1)

jareth-0205 (525594) | about 5 months ago | (#46686717)

How does this help the children? That's what RPi is all about, right?

It won't! And I'll tell you something, it's not just them... other charities like NSPCC and Save the Children, they run these 'shops' where they sell stuff that isn't for children either! Ridiculous!

Re:The Children (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46697427)

How does this help the children? That's what RPi is all about, right?

It teaches them about the worst ARM core and SoC design ever. It's a project that exists as a warning sign about what not to do.

Chistmas Lights (2)

Xmastrspy (1170381) | about 5 months ago | (#46686115)

Must... go.... get... more... christmas.... lights... NOW!!! :)

Mostly pointless (3, Informative)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 5 months ago | (#46686293)

The Compute Module is primarily designed for those who are going to create their own PCB. However, we are also launching something called the Compute Module IO Board to help designers get started.

Anyone going through the process of developing a board can get a simpler and less constrained solution by slapping down the three ICs directly and not have to deal with the cost and headaches of integrating a separate module.

Re:Mostly pointless (5, Informative)

Lemming Mark (849014) | about 5 months ago | (#46686619)

I do remember a talk where Eben Upton said that the routing was relatively complex under the main chip. Pinning it out onto an edge connector presumably gives you the luxury of building a much simpler board to plug it into - design-wise and possibly cost-wise since you might get away with fewer layers.

Seems like small-to-mid volume manufacturers might find it handy, even though high volume manufacturers would presumably just plonk the chips directly on.

Not that I'm an electronic engineer, so obviously take this with a pinch of salt.

Re:Mostly pointless (2)

ebenupton (2424660) | about 5 months ago | (#46687209)

That's about right. If you're making a small (and by small I mean 50k unit) run it's likely to be worth buying a system on module rather than paying someone to do the fiddly HDI PCB design, finding someone who can assemble PoP reliably and buying your application processor, RAM and Flash out of distribution at high margin.

Re:Mostly pointless (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46687411)

1. SoC design work mostly done for you - you'll still need to add your own peripherals on your own board.
2. Fully working Linux with accelerated graphics/video comes as standard
3. It's the only way to buy the Bcm2835 in small quantities.
4. Prototype on the very cheap Raspberry Pi.

It's $30 in batches of 100. I'd say that's a bargain for this sort of thing and should save lower quantity embedded firms a load of money in dev time.

Re:Mostly pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46687973)

At 10k (or over) runs if you can save $2 per assembly, you (or a contractor) should be able to justify doing your own board.

Re:Mostly pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46688081)

Just looking at the board vs the low end $25 RPi, they are saving a bit of money for this modules both from BOM and assembly cost. i.e. components that are not present and not having to solder through hole connectors.

So very likely you can integrate onto your main board and save $5 (or more likely $10).

Re:Mostly pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46688527)

Just looking at the board vs the low end $25 RPi, they are saving a bit of money for this modules both from BOM and assembly cost. i.e. components that are not present and not having to solder through hole connectors.

And still they plan to sell it at 30 USD when buying more than 100.

Re:Mostly pointless (1)

ebenupton (2424660) | about 5 months ago | (#46688601)

It's almost like it has twice as much RAM and onboard Flash, isn't it?

Re:Mostly pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46692063)

Well the price difference of RAM won't be much, but the eMMC may be costly. Did you think about making version without eMMC? Does the target audience really reqiure eMMC on board? Since you need to design your own board anyway the choice of eMMC/SD, size,speed could be made by buyer.

Re:Mostly pointless (2)

labnet (457441) | about 5 months ago | (#46687505)

You are one the money. Our company has done exactly this. An imx.287 with ram, rom, eth. Laid out on sodimm module. I did the layout and it took me 8 layers and plated in hole vias to do it. The hardest part of these designs is the impedance and length matching between cpu and dram.
The advantage of this design is being able to fit it too a 2 layer board, and upgrade cpu without having to change the baseboard.

Possible reasons for producing this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46690669)

Nobody in their right mind would design with the BCM2835 today on the basis of price or performance, since there are now so many far more capable and much cheaper SoCs available as a result of the tablet revolution. Complete tablets are now on retail for $30 with processors that make RasPi look ridiculous.

The only way this "Compute Module" makes product sense is if there is some non-obvious point to it. To get rid of excess stock of old BCM2835 might be one such reason, but I think it's unlikely because RasPi is still very popular and drains stock quickly, and anyway the SoC was allegedly not in very high supply anyway.

This doesn't leave us with many alternatives. Perhaps the Raspberry Pi Foundation gets a larger cut of BCM2835 proceeds because Eben Upton was one of its designers? If so, that might be a reason for extending the life of an obsolete chip.

Other than that, it's hard to find a reason for producing this thing, when virtually every other modern ARM application processor produced today would have been more effective in such a product.

Re:Mostly pointless (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 5 months ago | (#46692205)

Have you ever tried to fanout a high density Ball Grid Array part on a two layer circuit board? There are certain form factor chips which are cost prohibitive without some kind of adapting device. This is exactly such a device which comes pre-assembled in a way that allows you to expand on it with nothing more than a soldering iron, something you can't do if you work with BGA parts normally especially if you have to stack multiple BGA parts such as the memory module.

It allows someone to tinker with the core of the RPi without accessing wave soldering, reflow ovens or any of that nastyness.

NO support for 2 HDMI displays and 2 cameras (1)

citizenr (871508) | about 5 months ago | (#46689013)

No, there is only one HDMI.
There are two DSI and two CSI-2 ports routed, but DSI is not supported at all, and only one CSI-2 has any support (in closed source blob you cant modify).

Re:NO support for 2 HDMI displays and 2 cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46692161)

I was thinking the same thing. Even if it had multiple HDMI outputs, I can't fathom how this would be good for 3D TV. For one, 3D TV still only uses one HDMI and it's not like the RPi can decode multiple streams at a time.

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