Uptime Lab's CM4 Blade adds NVMe, TPM 2.0 to Raspberry Pi

A few weeks ago, I received two early copies of Uptime.Lab's CM4 Blade.

Uptime Lab's Raspberry Pi CM4 Blade Computer with NVMe SSD

The Blade is built for the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4, which has the same processor as the Pi 4 and Pi 400, but without any of the built-in IO ports. You plug the CM4 into the Blade, then the Blade breaks out the connections to add some interesting features.

A 1U rackmount enclosure is in the works, and 161 of these boards would deliver:

  • 64 ARM CPU cores
  • up to 128 GB of RAM
  • 16 TB+ of NVMe SSD storage

That's assuming you can find 8 GB Compute Modules—they've been out of stock since launch almost a year ago, and even smaller models are hard to come by. More realistically, with 4 GB models, you could cram in 64 GB of total RAM.

Raspberry Pi OS now has SATA support built-in

After months of testing various SATA cards on the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4, the default Raspberry Pi OS kernel now includes SATA support out of the box.

SATA card and Samsung SSD with Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 IO Board

In the past, if you wanted to use SATA hard drives or SSDs and get native SATA speeds, and be able to RAID them together for redundancy or performance, you'd have to recompile the Linux kernel with SATA and AHCI.

Sure you could always use hard drives and SSDs with SATA to USB adapters, but you sacrifice 10-20% of the performance, and can't RAID them together, at least not without some hacks.

There's a video version of this post: SATA support is now built into Raspberry Pi OS!

Review: MyElectronics Raspberry Pi hot-swap rack system

MyElectronics Raspberry Pi Rack mount system

MyElectronics, a small business in the Netherlands, specializes in small computer rackmount solutions. They sent me these two racks (a 1U and 2U Raspberry Pi rack) and asked me to test them out and compare them to the 3D Printed Raspberry Pi Rack I built earlier this year, based on a design by Russ Ross.

They also have a 3U Raspberry Pi rackmount unit, but I won't be reviewing that here.

The contents of this review are summarized in this video I posted on YouTube:

SpaceX's Starlink Review - Four months in

SpaceX's Starlink internet service uses satellites in low-earth orbit to provide high-speed Internet to underserved parts of the world, especially places without easy access to cable or fiber.

Jeff Geerling with SpaceX Starlink Dishy

SpaceX's Starlink beta opened up in my area, so I installed Dishy—that's the nickname for the large white satellite dish above—and I've been testing it and comparing it to my Cable internet.

I have Raspberry Pis monitoring my Internet—one on Starlink, and one on Spectrum. And I also have a power monitor measuring power usage. And I've tracked everything since day one to see if weather like snow and thunderstorms affect service, and how Starlink compares to Cable.

Here's the bottom line: Most of the time, I couldn't tell I was using Starlink. And that's good. Everything felt the same.

Getting faster 10 Gbps Ethernet on the Raspberry Pi

If you read the title of this blog post and are thinking, "10 Gbps on a Pi? You're nuts!," well, check out my video on using the ASUS XG-C100C 10G NIC on the Raspberry Pi CM4. Back? Good.

To be clear: it's impossible to route 10 gigabits of total network throughput through any Raspberry Pi on the market today.

ASUS 10G NIC in Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 IO Board

But it is possible to connect to a 10 gigabit network at 10GBase-T speeds using a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 and an appropriate PCI Express 10G NIC. And on my Pi PCI Express site, I documented exactly how I got an ASUS XG-C100C working on the Raspberry Pi. All it takes is a quick recompile of the kernel, and away it goes!

The Raspberry Pi IoT Notification Bell

Harbinger of the Internet of Dings

Last year, I built the first version of what I call the "Raspberry Pi Bell Slapper." It was named that because it used a servo and a metal arm to slap the top of the bell in response to a stimuli—in this case, an email from a donation notification system for a local non-profit radio station.

This year, that same radio station had another one of their fund-raisers (a radiothon), and to celebrate, I thought I'd do the thing justice, with a better circuit (using a solenoid instead of a servo) and a 3D printed enclosure. And this is the result:

Clarence 2.0 - The Raspberry Pi Notification Bell

There is a Raspberry Pi Zero W with a custom solenoid control HAT on top inside the case to the left, and the solenoid right up against the bell, which is mounted on the right.

I also posted a video on YouTube exploring the project in detail: The Raspberry Pi IoT Notification Bell.

Two Tiny Dual-Gigabit Raspberry Pi CM4 Routers

Since I started testing various PCI Express cards on the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4, I've been excited to see what new kinds of custom networking devices people would come up with.

Well, after months of delays due to part shortages, both DFRobot and Seeed Studios have come out with their 2-port Gigabit router board designs, and I was happy to receive a sample of each for testing:

DFRobot and Seeed Studios Router Boards with Dual Gigabit Ethernet

The boards are tiny, and even with the Compute Module 4 installed, they are incredibly small—take a look at the entire assembled DFRobot unit, complete with a Raspberry Pi attached:

DFRobot CM4 IoT Router Board with Raspberry Pi CM4 and Quarter

My 6-node 1U Raspberry Pi rack mount Cluster

Now that I have a half-height rack and a 3D Printer, I figured I should finally move all my Raspberry Pis from sitting in odd places in my office to the rack. And what better way than to print my own 1U Raspberry Pi Rack mount unit?

6 Node Raspberry Pi 1U Rack Mount enclosure - 3D Printed for Pi 4 model B

The rack unit you see above was assembled from 6 'frames', 6 hot-swappable Pi carrier trays, 2 rack mount ears, and a couple lengths of threaded rod for rigidity.

It was printed from these plans from russross on Thingiverse; Russ Ross also made an assembly video, and shows how you can build a 2U 12-Pi enclosure using the same basic design, with interchangeable Pi trays!


There is more detail and a full walkthrough of my home rack in this video:

OBS Task List Overlay for livestream TODO / Checklist

For a few of my task-oriented livestreams, I wanted to be able to have an easy-to-follow list of tasks present in an OBS scene, with an indication of which task was currently in-progress.

I had seen a similar overlay on NASASpaceflight's livestreams (example), and liked the simplicity:

NASASpaceflight Live stream overlay task list for Flight Test

I started searching for an OBS plugin I could use to replicate that overlay, but was coming up with nothing. There was some plugin that seemed like it fit the bill, but it had been abandoned a while back. Most of the other overlays were a lot more specific to gaming, had few options for customization, or only worked with services other than OBS.