So you want to make a Raspberry Pi killer...

Raspberry Pi CM4 Clones stacked up

I'm in the unique position of owning a collection of Raspberry Pi Compute Modules 4 (CM4).

I also own at least one of every production CM4 clone in existence.

This sets up a quandary: if I have the real thing, what motivation do I have to care about the clones?

There are hundreds of CM4 carrier boards that do everything from restoring retro game consoles to monitoring remote oil rigs in highly-explosive environments.

Since launch, the CM4 has been difficult—and since early 2021, impossible—to acquire. The supply constraints are well documented, and I'm sure a few comments will lament the situation. But the CM4 is trickling back to 'in stock' at many suppliers (about how the Pi 4 was a couple months ago).

Smart home automation shouldn't be stupid

Jeff Geerling holds a dumb not smart light switch

There are far too many smart home devices which make using a device harder. Like a light switch and light bulb that requires a wireless connection to a hub in order to control the lights.

Before, you could flick a switch, and a light would come on.

Now, you have to ensure the light has power, the switch has power, and the hub has power. And the wireless connection between switch, hub, and light needs to be reliable. And the hub can't lock up or go offline. And if it's anything like most modern IoT devices, the hub needs a reliable Internet connection and cloud account, or things will start failing at some point.

That's dumb.

And that's just light switches. Can you imagine relying on this kind of 'smarts' for essential services in your home, like HVAC, water supply, etc.?

To be truly 'smart', I follow three principles for home automation. Every smart device must be:

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: