Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 review: A building block for new devices Review

Victoria D. Doty

So you have been experimenting with a Raspberry Pi four, and have arrive up with a excellent notion for a piece of Pi-controlled hardware. No-one’s done it just before and it’s going to be a little something the full planet desires. But how are you going to change it into a merchandise? 

You could just purchase countless numbers of Pi 4s. Or you could sit down with the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s chip suppliers and a group of electronic engineers and construct your very own board fully from scratch. Alternatively, you could get a shortcut and construct your merchandise about a little something function-constructed for merchandise enhancement.

That option is the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 (CM4). It has all the crucial parts of a Raspberry Pi four on a solitary, significantly smaller, board with a set of standard interfaces that plug into a provider board with all the relaxation of the parts needed to construct and run a machine. All the things that goes into a comprehensive-blown Pi is on the compute module, prepared for you to change your hardware and software into a merchandise. 


The Raspberry Pi Compute Module four (CM4) has all the crucial parts of a Raspberry Pi four on a compact solitary board.

Images: Raspberry Pi Foundation

Getting started off with the CM4

To make it less difficult to get started off with a CM4, the Raspberry Pi group has designed a carrier board to assistance with the following stage of enhancement, exposing all the CM4’s IO ports, together with a PCIe connector. All you have to have is a CM4 and a electricity offer and you happen to be prepared to get started building. I fitted mine into a expert situation from Waveshare, which gave me obtain to all the machine outputs (and with a good deal area to set a HAT inside the situation if I wanted) and included a fan for cooling. 

I applied a generic 12V electricity offer as the CM4 will not use the exact same USB-C electricity connectors as the Pi four. In its place, it normally takes electricity from its provider board, using anything from electricity-over-Ethernet (PoE) to batteries and further than. 


A set of standard interfaces on the CM4 plug into a provider board with the relaxation of the parts needed to construct and run a merchandise.  

Images: Raspberry Pi Foundation  

Our test CM4 came with 8GB of memory and 32GB of onboard eMMC storage, functioning on a quad-core ARM Cortex-A72 processor. There are 32 distinct variations of the CM4, with distinct memory and storage configurations, so you can pick a board that’s acceptable for your venture. The increased-close CM4s, like our test machine, are intended for compute-centered assignments, controlling storage arrays or acting as IoT hubs for a selection of sensors. You can use the CM4’s PCIe interface to increase far more and speedier storage, plugging in a M.two SSD or very similar. 

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Other connectors on the IO board contain two exhibit and two digicam connectors, as very well as a comprehensive set of GPIO pins. You can find also Gigabit Ethernet with aid for PoE. Wi-fi and Bluetooth antennas are constructed into the CM4 circuit board, even though you may perhaps desire to use an external antenna. One particular major change amongst the Pi four and the CM4 is the lack of any USB three. ports. These are replaced by the CM4’s PCIe port, which can be applied for any supported PCIe accent, together with storage, networking, graphics, and USB three. boards. All you have to have is a Raspberry Pi port of any drivers. 

Installing software 

Getting an functioning method on to a CM4’s eMMC storage is not as simple as plugging in a prepared-formatted MicroSD card or a USB SSD (even though people options are out there if you desire). You may have to have to download and set up a distant boot tool on a Computer with the acceptable machine drivers just before delivering an OS impression to the CM4. 

It can be a fantastic notion to use the IO board to configure your to start with CM4s, even though if you happen to be in production you can supply a custom made OS by way of a dedicated machine programmer. Install the rpiboot tools on a Computer and join the CM4 IO board by way of a Micro-USB cable. Initially you have to have to fit a jumper to disable eMMC boot, and after that’s in place, electricity up the CM4 IO board with a 12V PSU. Operate rpiboot to boot the CM4 over a USB cable from your host Computer. 

This will join the CM4 eMMC as external USB storage. From this position matters are quite common, as you use the Raspberry Pi imaging applications to install an functioning method. I installed Raspberry Pi OS, as this would enable me set the CM4 by way of its paces. This took a minor although, as it experienced to load over USB two.. At the time installed, I then experienced to edit the device’s config.txt to change on USB two. aid. This defaults to off to conserve electricity, so duplicate the configuration particulars from the CM4 knowledge sheet to change it on and use your hardware with a mouse and keyboard. 


Raspberry Pi OS functioning on the Compute Module four.

Image: Simon Bisson / ZDNet

Working with the CM4 

At the time set up, a CM4 is like any other Raspberry Pi four. It runs the exact same functioning devices, and presents the exact same applications. That is the major benefit of the CM4: you can get what you have constructed on and with the Raspberry Pi, and bring it to new hardware. You can find no discovering curve for the software or for hardware, as the exact same GPIO pins are exposed by way of the CM4’s connectors. 

Functionality is on a par with a standard Raspberry Pi four. Working with the beta ARM construct of Geekbench 5.four, solitary core effectiveness came in at 181, with multi-core at 549. That is a little bit slower than our USB three. SSD Pi four, which tends to make perception as eMMC is fairly sluggish (but speedier than functioning from a MicroSD card). There is the option of overclocking in the method config, but we’d recommend fitting a fan just before trying it out. 

The CM4 is not only for industrial purposes. Third-bash boards give the option of building arrays of Raspberry Pis, in not quite significantly area, using a widespread backplane to join your devices. One particular option is hardware like the upcoming Turing Pi two, providing compact and strong compute devices constructed about many CM4 modules. A Turing Pi two can be applied as a Kubernetes method at the network edge, with 32GB of RAM and a good deal of SSD-centered storage. 


By supporting a huge choice of 3rd-bash provider boards, the CM4 is getting a generic compute element for the IoT planet. The common Raspberry Pi may perhaps be a typical-function machine, but the Compute Module lets you focus on unique jobs, wrapping it in dedicated hardware. Do you want a Pi-hole privacy method as component of your property network? Why not uncover a networking-centered Compute Module host and use it to construct a custom made router? Or most likely set just one in a mechanical keyboard to construct your custom made textual content editor for when you have to have to focus on composing? 

Managing a laptop as an element of compute is a distinct way of considering, but just one that’s most likely superior suited for the planet of the Web of Issues and the clever edge of a cloud-indigenous planet. With the CM4, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is going further than discovering computing, to serving to you uncover new strategies of creating new matters from what you have realized.  

It can be a major step to get, but just one that fits in with the heritage of property computing in the Uk, following on from what people did after they’d expended their teenage decades with Sinclair Spectrums and BBC Micros. 

Who appreciates what Technology Pi will construct? You can find just one issue we can guess, nevertheless: they are going to be starting with devices like the Compute Module four.


There are 32 distinct Compute Module four configurations starting at £24/$25 for no on-board storage, 1GB of RAM and no wireless. The leading configuration is 8GB RAM, 32GB eMMC and wireless for £85.forty/$90.

The individual Raspberry Pi Compute Module four IO Board prices £33.30/$35.

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