Hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen because I've got something really exciting for you! The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced the newest iteration of their hugely popular Raspberry Pi Compute module. 'What on earth is a Compute module?' I hear some of you ask? Well, the Raspberry Pi Compute debuted in 2014 and was designed to provide all of the awesomeness that is Raspberry Pi in a smaller, more compact package suited towards industrial and commercial applications.
It featured the same SoC, processor and specs, but got rid of the physical ports (USB, HDMI, Composite, microUSB etc...) and provided access to all of those peripherals and the GPIO via the output pins of it's SODIMM package. Now that was all well and good, but compared to the current Pi 3 specs, the older Compute module was languishing a little, so they've updated it!
Image from raspberrypi.org: Compute Module 3
The Raspberry Pi Compute 3 module packs the same horsepower that the current Pi 3 delivers with twice the RAM of the original module, roughly 10x the processing power, plus lots of extra goodies. The biggest change they've made with this release though is the provision of two different options for the module dubbed the Compute Module 3 and Compute Module 3 Lite. They both have exactly the same specifications, however, the Compute Module 3 sports 4GB of eMMC flash storage. The Lite version lacks this, however, it breaks out the pins required for the eMMC or microSD to the SODIMM pins.
The Raspberry Pi Compute Module Development Kit incldues both the normal and lite variants of the compute, along with all the other bits and pieces you need to get started.
Image from raspberrypi.org: Back side of CM3 (left) and CM3L (right)
According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, you can pick up the Compute Module 3 and Compute Module 3 Lite for $30 and $25 respectively, however that's in US Dollars, so expect to pay a bit more in Australia, but it's still a nice saving over the regular Pi 3 if the Compute better suits your application. NEC have reportedly used the Compute Module 3 in the new range of HD TV's which is a huge breakthrough to seeing DIY technology come together with industrial applications. Super exciting stuff!
For more info, check out the official Raspberry Pi Foundation post revealing the CM3 and CM3L.
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