With the compute module, that answer is now much more concrete. People will still build own boards, but most of the complexity will live on the SOM.
Very exciting times, can't wait to see if the gambit pays off.
The situation's surprisingly similar: Powerful ARM Dev boards existed before the Pi, but the price was steep, they couldn't be found in traditional distribution channels, and the OS/Driver support was poor at best. This is, more or less, the place we're at with embedded SOMs.
Just look at these guys: http://www.acmesystems.it/aria
Look, the rPi started off as a play-thing for kids, and there is now a valid rPi generation. It is expanding as a platform. But: in the industrial world, the rPi is a small fish. You can get an rPi precisely because some other industry has already driven the demand/price/costs down for it to be affordable/profitable to build a new brand around what is, a common industry practice/device mind-set.
This might be a close equivalent, but is more expensive, and will almost certainly require a large order to get those prices: http://www.variscite.com/products/system-on-module-som/corte...
If this brings down prices of the commercial SoM vendors that benefits all of us however.
With Pis, all the average person needed was a regular keyboard, mouse & monitor to plug in. That's why it worked. That's all been thrown out here.
I mean: Before the Raspberry Pi, there were Linux-capable ARM Dev Boards, but the vast majority of them were niche items, over $150, and you had to call up the manufacturer and convince them to sell you one. (oh, and don't you dare use this in production without securing a larger purchase agreement!) Now, there's a proliferation of sub-$100 Linux-capable boards being sold by all the distribution houses, in large quantities, with no or limited restrictions on use in production.
I hope this move from the Raspberry Pi foundation does the same thing for OEM SOMs. Right now, there are only a handful of SOMs on Digikey/Mouser, most with fewer than 100 units in stock, all (that I can find) over $100, with zero community of support. Most of the companies with strong reputations in the market require a phone call before they'll even agree to sell you units for sampling.
If anything started this it was the BeagleBoard released by TI well before the Pi. You can get a feel for how much influence it had from the fact that half the boards released these days are named *Board in a similar way. MinnowBoard, CubieBoard, DragonBoard, OwlBoard, MarsBoard, Arndale Board, PandaBoard, CosmicBoard... I could go on...
I'm no Raspberry Pi hater, but let's just not go all history-revisionism here.
I know of at least a few other places, here in Vienna, where you can get an rPi pretty much any time of day by vending machine. wtf, you're still using Radio Shack, lol.. ")
If you're into hobby electronics, it's worth checking out Radio Shack if you've not been in one for a while. They carry much more than just electronic kits for kids.
But I agree that the target market for these is more professional engineers looking to take a prototype into smalltime production, or an early protype into something more refined.
Things get interesting when a general purpose Linux computer reaches disposable pricing where you just pull a new one from the bin for each project. This feels like about $20usd or less to me.
The parts of projects that were left behind after pulling your expensive SBC are no longer junked so waste comes out a wash. In any case, a few makers experimenting in any fashion isn't even a rounding error compared to the mobile phone apocalypse thats hitting landfills now.
I'm really curious to see if the foundation will commit to a product lifespan / availability for commercial use. If so this could become pretty big. Obviously if you are selling a product in 100,000s+ you will probably roll your own, but for a small business to produce a niche product that's going to be sold in the high hundreds, or product a proof of concept this is awesome.
EDIT: rereading the blog post, this is aimed at commercial use, definitely great in regards to pricing, however, I wouldn't want to base a product on it without a guarantee of availability / compatibility from them. The Beaglebone black specifically says that they don't guarantee compatibility between revisions for this reason.
It was extremely unusual, but apparently worked.
Here is a list of all of the sonnect upgrade cards and how they connected
Edit: Added link
It's clever and insane at the same time. Most processor upgrades physically replace the processor, but this one just bypassed it.
A few years back I built a bunch of robots with the main processing unit a SIMM Java processing module - http://www.systronix.com/tini/tini_simm.htm. Having a standard (and super compact) form-factor for processing was a game changer. It meant I could quickly prototype the main robot board and add in processing module really easily. I wish I had this available then.
Even as just a toy, putting an affordable arm chip with a serious interconnect would be a really big deal. This is a great step closer.
Shame they went under - but there are alternatives from Marvell, Applied Micro and others. Look for ARM server chipsets and you'll usually find a good fabric attached.
"...the Compute Module will be available to buy separately, with a unit cost of around $30 in batches of 100"
Year after year, you could upgrade the SoC and memory while keeping your case+screen+screeniopcb+batterypcb+battery.
Sure, if you're trying to mine bitcoins, this hardware alone probably won't be much use.
But if you just want to learn about distributed systems, and how to manage a cluster of hosts and distribute tasks between them, this is a great place to start, eg: http://coen.boisestate.edu/ece/raspberry-pi/
(In my experience, "learning about how to manage distributed systems..." and etcetera isn't much fun and is something you can do fairly well emulating as many systems as you'd like in software.)
It depends on your use case. If you are thinking of this for industrial controls, its overpowered. If you are thinking of this for mining bitcoins, it is underpowered.
Links? This is turning into a let-me-google-that-for-you, but they appear very regularly on http://linuxgizmos.com
However, I have several that I use for single-purpose tasks and it excels at this.
I have one Pi in my office that runs tmux/mutt/irssi, so I can easily access email and our internal chat server from any computer in the building.
I have another hooked up to a TV that acts as digital signage, showing uptimes and other system info.
Pretty neat stuff, but it's painfully slow for GUI tasks
As a system-on-module, it's aimed more at embedded engineers than first time hobbyists, and embedded engineers already have many much better solutions like this.
I'd like to think that someone can make something that looks like a smartphone with this.
Now, a lot of that capability has historically been unavailable to RPi users, but they're slowly responding to pressure and opening up the GPU.
But I also saw the headline and was hoping for some nice little GPU compute add-on the RPi. Oh well. I still think this is a very promising form factor for the RPi.
I actually just received my first RPi's on friday...
What kind of hardware specifically were you expecting and what kind of acceleration hardware there is generally available for these kinds of applications?
Well, I suppose this play to put the rPi "platform" everywhere, is to be expected. But I don't really see the appeal in this when there are already multi-core ARM DIMM's to be played with. This is clearly a brand play by the rPi folks, and after all .. why not..
But boo, no more clock or memory. Lots of apps bump gracelessly into the 512M limit (libre office, IDEs, OpenElec+plugins, ...) 1G should give all of them enough breathing room that they don't need babying them all the time.
A little more grunt to the CPU would have been nice but that's minor. Overclocking the Pi seems mostly futile -- it just lets the CPU spend even more time waiting on I/O and cache.
The compute unit isn't meant to be used as a desktop, but as an embedded system.
I've searched online, and I think the boards that the SODIMM modules are plugged-in to are called "base-boards" or "carrier-boards". In general, are these kinds of boards generic in nature, so that you can mix-and-match modules with different carrier-boards, as long as they all use the SODIMM package?
For that you may want to look at the Qseven standard: http://www.qseven-standard.org/
This also gives you a bump in processing power as well, with the ability to use ARM or x86 processors. (of course it is a lot more expensive...)
For example, I want to build security cameras with Raspberry Pis, but I don't need audio output, USB, HDMI, etc...but I would need WiFi, camera unit, and power. But I doubt we'd see custom IO boards for specific applications such as this, and I don't think it'd be any cheaper than just buying a regular Pi.
"We are also aware that there are a very significant number of users out there who are embedding the Raspberry Pi into systems and even commercial products. We think there needs to be a better way to allow people to get their hands on this great technology in a more flexible form factor, but still keep things at a sensible price."
"The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity, and as with everything we make here, all profits are pushed straight back into educating kids in computing."
In other words, they found a need, they're filling it, and all the profits from filling that need will be plowed back into their primary mission. More money = more kids educated in computing = Good.
It might be a bit more difficult with the built in storage, but I suppose it's nothing that can't be managed.
A friend of mine had two unrecoverably broken Kingston class 10 SDCards on the same RPi in 6 months. Bad luck maybe, but still I'd love to have something more solid to run applications without fear of data loss.
If you still want an SD card (I don't -- network and USB are so much faster), I expect you could buy an IO board with one or more. I don't see one on the Pi Foundation's board right now but it should be easy to add.
> But don’t go plugging the Compute Module into your laptop – the pins assignments aren’t even remotely the same!
So the answer is "no."
Do you think they've fused it so it doesn't short out and trash any board you put it into by mistake?
That said, if the Pi foundation can arrange for all the I/O to come out of reset in a hi-Z state, then there's a chance they could arrange the rest of the pins to avoid damage.
But would it be worth the effort? Given how hard it is to access most sodimm sockets, mistakes seem rather unlikely.
Having it show up as an unrecognized DIMM would be clever, but perhaps not worth the trouble.