The latest iteration of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module series, the Compute Module 3+ (CM3+), in now available starting from $25.
This newest version of flexible board for industrial applications offers over ten times the ARM performance, twice the RAM capacity, and up to eight times the Flash capacity of the original Compute Module.
The original Compute Module (CM1) had a Broadcom BCM2835 application processor, a single-core ARM11 at 700MHz, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of eMMC Flash. Three years later the Compute Module 3 (CM3) was launched, based on the quad-core BCM2837A1, and now, almost exactly two years on, the new CM3+ is on sale.
The Compute Module takes care of the high-tech bits (fine-pitched BGAs, high-speed memory interfaces, and core power supply), allowing the designer to focus on the features they really care about. The eMMC Flash device on a Compute Module is more reliable and robust than normal SD cards, so it is more suited to industrial applications. The Compute Module also provides more interfaces than the regular Raspberry Pi, supporting two cameras and two displays, as well as extra GPIO.
A Compute Module 3+ inserted into a Compute Module IO board
CM3+ is derived from the CM3 board, but incorporates the improved thermal design and Broadcom BCM2837B0 application processor from Raspberry Pi 3B+. This means that, with the exception of a small increase in z-height, CM3+ is a drop-in replacement for CM3 from an electrical and form-factor perspective. Note that due to power-supply limitations the maximum processor speed remains at 1.2GHz, compared to 1.4GHz for Raspberry Pi 3B+.
The CM3+ offers three different eMMC Flash sizes, in addition to a Flash-less “Lite” variant, all at competitive prices:
- CM3+/Lite $25
- CM3+/8GB $30
- CM3+/16GB $35
- CM3+/32GB $40
As CM3+ is a new product, it will need a recent version of the Raspberry Pi firmware (and operating system such as Raspbian) to operate correctly.
Due to the improved PCB thermal design and BCM2837B0 processor, the CM3+ has better thermal behaviour under load. It has more thermal mass and can draw heat away from the processor faster than CM3. This can translate into lower average temperatures and/or longer sustained operation under heavy load before the processor hits 80°C and begins to reduce its clock speed.
Note that CM3+ will still output the same amount of heat as CM3 for any given application, so performance (and particularly sustained performance) will depend heavily on the design of the carrier PCB and enclosure.
The rated ambient temperature range of the new kit has been broadened to -20°C to 70°C.
Raspberry Pi is also releasing a refreshed Compute Module 3+ Development Kit today. This kit contains 1 x Lite and 1 x 32GB CM3+ module, a Compute Module IO board, camera and display adapters, jumper wires, and a programming cable.
Raspberry Pi is also moving the “legacy” CM1, CM3 and CM3 Lite products to “not recommended for new designs” status. They will continue to be available until at least January 2023.