BliKVM PCIe puts a computer in your computer

BliKVM PCIe with Raspberry Pi CM4 running PiKVM

This is the BliKVM PCIe, a full computer on a PCI Express card. This is an IP KVM (Internet Protocol Keyboard-Video-Mouse) that can be put inside another computer or server.

Most server motherboards already have remote 'lights-out' management functionality built in. Most frequently this is referred to as IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface, but Dell calls it iDRAC, and HPE calls it ILO.

PTP and IEEE-1588 hardware timestamping on the Raspberry Pi CM4

I've been following the issue CM4 is missing IEEE1588-2008 support through BCM54210PE since I heard about IEEE1588-2008 support on the Compute Module 4 last year.

Broadcom NIC on Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4

Apparently the little NIC included on every Compute Module 4—the BCM54210PE, which is different than the NIC on the Pi 4 model B (a BCM54213PE)—includes support for a feature called PTP, or Precision Time Protocol.

Industrial Raspberry Pi computers (one is explosion-proof)

In today's video, I highlighted industrial Raspberry Pi computers. Specifically, the Lincoln-Binns CM4-Box Pro, the Onlogic Factor 201, and fieldcloud's Milü-X Industrial IoT Gateway.

Onlogic Factor 201 Industrial Raspberry Pi computer

And I asked Lincoln-Binns, Onlogic, and fieldcloud what makes an 'Industrial' Pi any different than a Pi and an enclosure like you could buy from a normal Pi retailer.

Raspberry Pi CM3E joins CM4S in the old SO-DIMM form factor

Last week this Tweet crossed my timeline:

If you look closely, that's a "Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3E"—which is so far not listed on Raspberry Pi's website.

The Petabyte Pi Project

I haven't had time to write up the details yet, but I wanted to share a project that's been many months in the making: The Petabyte Pi Project on YouTube.

I'm still doing follow-up testing based on feedback from Broadcom storage engineers, and will put out a much more in-depth blog post later, but the gist is:

Can a single Raspberry Pi cosplay as an 'enterprise' storage server, directly addressing 1 PB of storage?

Now... caveats abound here. What does 'enterprise' mean? And what does 'directly addressing' mean? Those things are all answered in the video linked above.

But to give a tl;dr: The Pi does not perform swimmingly. But... I did get a single array of 60 hard drives—20TB Exos HDDs to be exact—working in a 45Drives Storinator XL60 chassis, controlled only through a single Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4. Of course I had to rip out the Xeon guts and replace them with said Pi:

8 New Compute Module 4 boards for Spring 2022

It's been a busy start to the year on my Raspberry Pi PCIe Devices website. Not only have we finally made some significant progress learning about the BCM2711's PCIe bus (both good and bad), I've also added a few dozen new Raspberry Pi CM4-based boards to the site.

In my YouTube video today, I go through four of them in depth, showing how they're built and what they're used for.

The four projects I cover in depth are:

  1. Bigtreetech's Raspberry Pad 5
  2. Seeed Studio's reTerminal
  3. Waveshare's Dual Ethernet 5G/4G base board
  4. Ab-log's RPi4-RTC-PoE DIN rail computer

And there are some other projects I'm watching closely as they journey down the road towards production:

Building a desktop Pi PC with Axzez's Interceptor

A couple months ago, Axzez reached out and asked if I'd like to test out the Interceptor—an ATX-style mini motherboard for the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4, complete with 5 SATA ports.

Axzez Interceptor Carrier Board for Compute Module 4

The board is meant to be used as an NVR (Network Video Recorder): You pop a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 on top, you plug in up to 5 SATA hard drives for storage, and then you plug IP cameras into the 3 extra LAN ports (via an RTL8367RB switch) on the back, and you can store IP camera footage on the drives, and access it over the network.

How to update the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 Bootloader / EEPROM

The Raspberry Pi 4 and Pi 400 share the same Broadcom BCM2711 SoC with the Compute Module 4. All three devices also share an SPI EEPROM flash chip, which stores the Raspberry Pi's bootloader.

SPI EEPROM Flash bootloader chip on Raspberry Pi 4 model B

But the Compute Module 4 differs in how you update the bootloader. With the Pi 4 or Pi 400, you can use Raspberry Pi imager to write a utility image to a microSD card to update the bootloader. You put in the card, power on the Pi, and the bootloader is updated.

On the Compute Module 4, because it may be used in remote or embedded environments, its bootloader can actually be hardware write-protected!

Enable the external antenna connector on the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 external U.FL antenna

The internal WiFi module on the Compute Module 4 (that's the bit under the metal shield in the picture above) routes its antenna signal via software. You can route the signal to either:

  1. The built-in PCB triangle antenna (this is the default).
  2. The external U.FL connector (which has an external antenna plugged into it in the picture above)

To switch the signal to the U.FL connector (for example, if you're installing your CM4 in a metal box where the PCB antenna would be useless), you need to edit the boot config file (sudo nano /boot/config.txt, and add the following at the bottom:

# Switch to external antenna.

Then reboot the Pi.