RPI beyond prototyping

We all know that Raspberry Pi, with today more than 35 million boards sold, it's one of the most popular embedded boards out there. This credit size computing board, initially developed for STEM education and product prototyping, has found its way into many other application areas. One of them is the home automation scene. The 4th generation of the Raspberry Pi is about as fast as a solid 2007-era Intel Core 2 processor, which is more than enough to be used as an edge computing gateway for the home. The form factor, the price (from $35) and the open community behind it make it the most widely used hardware platform to run open source home automation software such as OpenHab or Home Assistant.

There is one caveat, The RPI is still positioned as a prototyping device and one of the weaknesses if you want to use this for production is the SD card. The Raspberry Pi Board runs Linux on an SD card like a hard-disk in a normal computer and undergoes many read and write operations. The SD card can become corrupted if it is written heavily or if the board is not powered down properly while the file-write operation was still going on. Also the SD cards have limited write cycles. Another problem is that the SD card connection may have issues with vibrations in the field. There is no provision to ensure connections are intact while in operation.

Recently, Raspberry Pi introduced the RPI Compute Module 4 (from $25) . This is an industrial version of the popular credit size RPI and offers a solution that goes beyond prototyping. The Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 incorporates a quad-core ARM Cortex-A72 processor, dual video output, and a wide selection of other interfaces. Available in 32 variants, with a range of RAM and eMMC Flash options, and with or without wireless connectivity.

The eMMC memory option in particular, as it can replace the SD card and overcome the aforementioned limitations, offers advantages for our home application. The RPI compute module is also designed for integration into end products. and even for use in industry.

If you wish, you can expand the possibilities with a Compute Module 4 IO board that provides a development platform with access to 2 x full-size HDMI 2.0 connectors, 2 x USB 2.0 connectors, Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 with PoE support, PCIe Gen 2 x1 connection and much more.

Besides home automation, the RPI compute Module 4 has a potential to be used in industry, providing retrofitting solutions for machines and to be used as a powerful edge computing device with enough power to run smart algorithms on the edge.

Manufacturers such as Seeed are already sponsoring companies and individuals who use Compute Module 4 in their designs or in the design of custom carrier cards.

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