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Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 to be launched by the end of the year, used in NEC displays

Eben Upton had already mentioned the Raspberry Pi Foundation was working on a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 based on the same Broadcom BCM2837 quad core Cortex A53 processor and 1GB LPDDR2 RAM used in Raspberry Pi 3 board earlier this year, but few details had been provided at the time.

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RPI Compute Module 3 in NEC Display – Click to Enlarge

The module is still not available, but NEC Display Solutions Europe has already announced they are working on integrating Compute Module 3 into commercial displays starting with 40″, 48″ and 55″ models in January 2017, and up to 98″ by the end of next year, used for digital signage and presentation platforms.

nec-raspberry-pi-compute-module-3

The Raspberry Pi Foundation goes on to say they’ve been working on NEC project for over a year now, and they expect to release Compute Module 3 to the general public by the end of the year. Price and complete technical details have not been released yet.

You can also watch the video below with NEC announcing Raspberry Pi 3 module based Displays at the 7:43 mark.

Via Raspberry Pi Blog

  1. dx
    October 14th, 2016 at 22:55 | #1

    Go get it working for digital signage, you just need minimal hardware: CPU, RAM, ROM of any kind, PMU and connectors.

    For kernel software it only needs display driver working, maybe plus hardware video decoders.

    Audio, wifi, ethernet, power-saving, camera, are all optional.

    Yet that takes them over a year and is still not done.

    With all those SoMs available all over the world, NEC picked this?

  2. Nobody of Import
    October 14th, 2016 at 23:12 | #2

    @dx Apparently you’ve never designed a new board, have a handle on the current market, or did board bring-up.

    1) Depends on signage. Some of the level of sophistication they’re doing of late for signage/kiosk isn’t what you’re claiming. It’s not “simple” anymore, esp. if you’re doing video playback.

    2) Display driver, audio, hardware video decoders- you need AUDIO if you’re doing video.

    3) Everything but camera is **NOT** optional. This is my first clue you’re ignorant of quite a few things.

    It takes a bit of time to design one cheaply. Have you priced the SoM’s that are capable of playing back H.264, can do a Linux based smart framework, and the like? They’re not exactly inexpensive. Again…another clue you haven’t one….

  3. October 15th, 2016 at 01:14 | #3

    I thought the Pi Foundation was a registered charity with the purpose of furthering the “advancement of education of adults and children, particularly in the field of computers, computer science and related subjects”

    With this push it’s becoming more of a tax dodge operation for funnelling SoMs to big players like NEC and others who sell _very profitable_ hardware.

    Doesn’t sound very charitable to me.

  4. Roger
    October 15th, 2016 at 03:23 | #4

    @JM
    The fact that their designs work beyond the “advancement of education of adults and children, particularly in the field of computers, computer science and related subjects” should be taken as good news rather than bad. There seem to be rather a lot of other companies taking the PI designs and using them for profit. Do you think Broadcom would be providing all the support it does if there was not a business advantage?

  5. RK
    October 15th, 2016 at 03:32 | #5

    @JM

    Feed-The-Hungry type nonprofits often buy supplies from for-profit without a discount. They also pay their employees while taking advantage of volunteers. This isn’t all that different.

    I would put the Pi foundation’s particular type of tax dodge as the more benevolent kind. Somewhat similar to contractors funneling their taxes through donations to homeless-shelters which they themselves go on to build but not for a huge net profit.

    Compare them to the likes of Microsoft & Apple whom dodge their taxes through pc\tablet-for-every-child foundations which do nothing to aid the children’s education and much to do with Microsoft’s and Apple’s app store sales resulting in huge profit margins.

    Overall, I would redirect my critic to the corrupt tax system and nonprofits as a whole. Cause when you put it all together, you realize corporations are putting their taxes where they want rather then where the voters want. And that’s not democracy.

  6. Kleer Kut
    October 15th, 2016 at 03:55 | #6

    @JM
    A not-for-profit business is still a business. If people working at the Raspberry Pi Foundation were taking huge sums of money behind the scenes or directly off the top of sales then that would be wrong to do under the benefits of a non-profit organization. Selling to a for-profit business can gain more capital for the foundation as a whole, which can then be ‘funneled’ into expanding on the primary goal of education and new hardware development.

    It isn’t much different than the hordes of people who buy up all of the Pi’s when they are new so they can make more TV boxes and servers for entertainment purposes. I think those people are more harmful because they have all day to scour the internet and buy up all of the available stock when some people trying to learn don’t have that advantage.

  7. October 15th, 2016 at 04:07 | #7

    @RK
    What is really happening is more like a building material supplier (or Broadcom) selling – exclusively since no one else can buy that chip – supplies to a shelter charity (Pi Foundation) who then goes and build houses with them. These houses are then picked up in bulk by a property developer, who adds some furniture and sells them for very good profit.

    Or imagine the Red Cross providing private medical services to a large insurer using their charity funds and volunteer doctors’ time.

    With no corporate taxes to pay, VAT exemptions – and tax benefits to the supplier on top – of course the charity is able to undercut other builders on the cost of houses, thus indirectly – and unfairly – increasing the supplier’s sales.

    Finally it just so happens that most of the staff of the charity also works for the supplier! I mean come on…

  8. October 15th, 2016 at 05:15 | #8

    @JM
    to be honest, beside the price point, the rpi was never a good pedagogical context. It’s an ambiguous proposition, it mostly allows you to toy with the program / electronics interface, an extremely powerful arduino for half the price. But the internals were a mess, and no kid will ever learn anything about it. And globally it’s not even a good price either, rpi kit + lcd is often above a 2nd hand laptop. Yay recycling.

  9. October 15th, 2016 at 09:21 | #9

    @dx
    @Nobody of Import
    I’ve worked on digital signage players in the past, and testing takes quite a lot of time, as this has to work reliably. We agreed with customers that if the platform could run 7 days in a row without issues, then it would be considered stable. Sometimes a bug comes up only after 5 days, so we have to investigate, and fix the issue, and repeat the test.

    NEC also mention something about IoT for their display, so I guess that means they get some data from the cloud, possibly the media files, or other metadata, so they had to develop that part of the software too. Billing software may be needed too. Some signage displays are also used in public transport, so you need to add GPS and cellular connectivity, but NEC displays discussed here are probably a little too big for that.

  10. theguyuk
    October 15th, 2016 at 15:37 | #10

    In the UK several years back a company was just connecting a smartphone to a TV, with the TV stood on its side vertical. That was before Phablets where common. Have not a clue what they do now..

  11. Frank
    October 15th, 2016 at 15:59 | #11

    A few points stated by Eben Uptom from the video, not mentioned so far:

    1) There will be future generations of RPi Compute Module (perhaps this is stating the obvious, but now it’s been said publicly)

    2) Future compute modules (ie. CM4, CM5 etc.) will be electrically compatible with existing compute modules (ie. CM1 and CM3) – good news for NEC customers in terms of long term support and future upgrades, and also manufacturers of Compute Module devices such as Slice, whose customers can upgrade without throwing away the entire device

    3) The “standard” CM3 will come with 4GB eMMC but NEC will be offering their customers (via Farnell custom build) an “enhanced” version with 16GB eMMC. Hopefully the “enhanced” version will be made available to regular customers too, and at a reasonable price.

  12. theguyuk
    October 15th, 2016 at 19:58 | #12

    @Frank

    So why not connect 2gb ram 8gb emmc $30 Android tv box, what special is Raspberry bringing to the mix ?

  13. Frank
    October 15th, 2016 at 20:48 | #13

    @theguyuk

    Maybe because NEC wanted long term support which you’re not going to get from $30 Android box suppliers that change chipsets more often than they provide decent kernel releases.

    In addition, as solutions go the slot-in Compute Module beats an Android box all ends up. NEC could have stuck an RPi3 on the back of their displays, but they obviously didn’t want that – they wanted a fully integrated solution, and you won’t get that from any Android box supplier.

    But NEC aren’t stupid, they know their customers needs and that’s why they saw the long term potential in the RPi Foundation solution. It’s clear that Android hardware is not suitable for any industrial application – it’s fine for consumers who are used to (or don’t expect any better than) rubbish support, but industrial clients expect a little more.

    Not to mention the video display support in many Android chipsets is not as good as it should be. AML, for instance, is laughable if you care about video quality and fractional framerates. And guess what, video quality is of major importance in the signage industry! The simple fact is that plain Linux offers better video quality than Android, so here the RPi wins yet again.

    An outfit like NEC isn’t going to make a multi-million dollar punt on an Android box supplier they can’t trust, that may not be here next year, that doesn’t offer the best video quality, and doesn’t offer a fully integrated solution.

    If you try to be objective, it’s blindingly obvious why NEC made the decision they did and not the one you suggest.

  14. tkaiser
    October 15th, 2016 at 21:02 | #14

    Sweet, a 98″ display with just 1920×1080 pixel (VideoCore 4 maximum output resolution).

  15. Frank
    October 15th, 2016 at 21:16 | #15

    @tkaiser

    Even with a 98″ screen, when viewed from more than 4m, nobody will be able to tell the difference between FullHD and UHD – it’s accepted that there is no benefit to UHD at a viewing distance of 4m or more, even with 100″ displays.

    http://i.rtings.com/images/optimal-viewing-distance-television-graph-size.png

    These NEC displays are designed for signange, and to be viewed at distance.

    They are not designed for your living room.

  16. tkaiser
    October 15th, 2016 at 21:16 | #16

    LOL, and just one single USB 2.0 connection to the outside will be there forever if backwards compatibility is an issue: https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/hardware/computemodule/RPI-CM-DATASHEET-V1_0.pdf

    But at least 2 DSI and 1 x composite display output are available in addition to HDMI (1.3a)

  17. theguyuk
    October 15th, 2016 at 21:24 | #17

    @Frank

    So will this have the over heating problems of the RPI 3 ? Or are Nec fitting fans?

    How well is RPI doing 4K these days ?

    Would I want my business on a computer every school kid knows how to hack or hack on?

    Yeap nice secure IOT.

  18. tkaiser
    October 15th, 2016 at 21:33 | #18

    Funny reading: Secondary Memory Interface (SMI) “is not publicly documented in the Broadcom Peripherals Specification”, Display Parallel Interface (DPI) “is not documented in the Broadcom Peripherals Specification but documentation can be found here” (where?), SD/SDIO: “The first (SD0) is a proprietary Broadcom controller that does not support SDIO and is the primary interface used to boot” (so VideoCore brings up this thing and Linux on the ARM cores is just a guest as usual)

    “Currently the CSI interface is not openly documented and only CSI camera sensors supported by the official Raspberry Pi firmware will work with this interface” and same applies to DSI.

    At least this funny mixture of properietary and ancient technology is supported “until at least January 2023” (1080p max in 2023 sounds like fun)

  19. Frank
    October 15th, 2016 at 22:16 | #19

    @theguyuk: You really are spouting drivel now. (Oh, and fans will not be required).

    @tkaiser: All of that is known and nothing new. The VC4 work being carried out by Eric Anholt will provide more standard and documented hardware access. NEC clearly don’t have an issue with the current state of play, or what the hardware embedded in their displays will be capable of in 2023 (remember, future RPi Compute Modules will be electrically compatible – this is a promise from the RPi Foundation, do I need to spell out to you what this means?)

    And the viewing distances in 2023 are going to be the same as they are today. In fact as resolutions increase, you’ll need bigger displays or even shorter viewing distances to see any benefit from higher resolutions.

  20. theguyuk
    October 15th, 2016 at 22:17 | #20

    My Roku 2 has a BCM7218 600 MHz

    After a hour or two on 1080p it is warm to the touch on the top, won’t burn you. This is only

    BCM7218 ARM
    1176JZF-S 600 MHz 1 2013-09-17 Full HD 1080p HP H.264 Video Encode/Decode
    DualCore VideoCoreIV Multimedia Co-Processor.

    I am not suprised RPI 3 heat issues, given modern cores.

  21. theguyuk
    October 15th, 2016 at 22:24 | #21

    @Frank

    Drivel !

    https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=138383&start=100

    Quote ”

    by Tinderbox (UK) » Sat Oct 15, 2016 12:20 pm
    Hi.

    I have read the reviews on the case you linked a lot of people have had parts break during assembly, I have the case linked below the one without the fan, they are made in the UK and are very strong, and it is easy to get the microsd in and out.

    I have an Pi3B and fitted a ceramic heasink, but while playing an 1080p 10bit video with cores between 70-100% cpu usage my soc temp got to 71c in 30mins, so i have ordered a 30mm fan to add to it.

    John. “

  22. tkaiser
    October 15th, 2016 at 22:39 | #22

    @Frank
    Of course you don’t have to spell out what ‘electrically compatible’ means: future Compute Modules have to be as limited as those available today (maybe the CM4 will then combine VC4 with Cortex-A72?): As far as I understood all RPi SoCs so far are basically the same, younger generations benefit from slightly higher VC clockspeeds and ARM core(s) are exchanged in between. But the real features are dictated by VideoCore so without enhancing something there max DRAM will be limited to 1 GB, booting requires FAT16/FAT32 and so on? BTW: I don’t think that any of these limitations is a show-stopper for digital signage but lack of IO and display/codecs support might be?

    BTW: I really don’t know why you’re mentioning the mythical RPi Foundation since we’re talking here all the time about ‘Raspberry Pi Trading Ltd’ and the business they make with industrial partners.

  23. Frank
    October 15th, 2016 at 22:40 | #23

    @theguyuk

    > I am not suprised RPI 3 heat issues, given modern cores.

    And you’d be wrong, but I’m not at liberty to say how or why.

  24. Frank
    October 15th, 2016 at 22:57 | #24

    @tkaiser

    I guess I do have to spell it out. Electrical compatibility does not automatically mean VC4.

    The Compute Module makes available on the SODIMM connector every pin from the SOC. This includes the HDMI pins, the electrical characteristics of which will be the same in the future as they are now (relevant protocols may change, but that’s for the SOC and display to negotiate). Future Compute Modules with HDMI capable of UHD resolution will use the exact same number of pins as current FullHD HDMI – it’s why you can plug your old HDMI 1.2a cable into a HDMI 2.0 socket, and still get a picture.

    Future Compute Modules are highly unlikely to use VC4, but whatever replaces VC4 in future will have the same HDMI electrical interface as CM1 and CM3, while still supporting increased display resolution and more advanced codecs etc.

    > ‘Raspberry Pi Trading Ltd’

    Sure.

  25. tkaiser
    October 15th, 2016 at 23:12 | #25

    @Frank
    Thank you for the clarification (and the insights of course). Is the same sort of upwards compatibility also possible for the USB connection? Negotiating USB 3.0 SuperSpeed?

  26. Frank
    October 15th, 2016 at 23:33 | #26

    @tkaiser

    This would depend on the logic implemented directly on the Compute Module IO board (that which the Compute Module plugs into), which will make upgrading less likely. This isn’t to say future Compute Modules couldn’t/won’t support faster USB and Ethernet, just that current IO boards will not, regardless of the Compute Module in use.

    Currently the IO boards use the same LAN9514 IC in the RPi3, which supports USB 2.0 and USB-to-Ethernet bridging. Perhaps future CM IO boards could implement faster USB and Ethernet – as future RPi SBCs no doubt will – as long as the interface between SoC and USB controller remains the same (the SOC and controller communicate using USB signalling, so this shouldn’t be a problem – just negotiate the correct signalling speed/capabilities depending on the controller etc.).

  27. theguyuk
    October 15th, 2016 at 23:54 | #27

    @Frank

    I have a comment waiting moderation, which links to a running thread on over heating RPi 3, when in a enclosure and doing 1080p video.

  28. Jon Smirl
    October 16th, 2016 at 00:00 | #28

    So when is someone going to make a pin compatible Allwinner A64 compute module and sell if for $15? Should not be a problem at that price point to make. How much is the RaspPi one going to cost? $50?

    A64 has roughly the same performance. Let people build the cluster infrastructure aimed at the Pi3 compute module, then simply use the A64 module. A good sized cluster will be $1,000 cheaper with A64.

  29. Frank
    October 16th, 2016 at 00:56 | #29

    @theguyuk

    I made no comment about the reports of the RPi3 SBC overheating. I simply said you were wrong (about your expectations). Read between the lines.

  30. October 16th, 2016 at 15:06 | #30

    @tkaiser
    The 98″ version is planned for the end of 2017. That’s odd the smaller version will be available in January, but the larger one will take a full year to develop. One reason for the extra development time could be that it will support 4K via Compute Module 4. So I’m expecting Raspberry Pi 4 sometimes next year (February 28?), followed by Compute Module 4 later with a 4K/H.265 capable SoC.

  31. tkaiser
    October 16th, 2016 at 18:08 | #31

    @Jon Smirl
    It would be a mistake to not expose RGMII since GbE is A64’s fastest interface.

    @cnxsoft
    I was just interested hearing about VideoCore future. So there will be better resolution and codec support but clearly the ‘one USB connection to the outside’ limitation remains and most probably next generation will still be limited to USB2 since chicken-egg problem (carrier boards should make use of USB3 before). I’m really happy that it seems we’re getting HW accelerated video encoding now on cheap Allwinner SoCs so the last remaining use case for RPi SoCs has gone then too.

  32. theguyuk
    October 16th, 2016 at 19:02 | #32

    @cnxsoft

    Nice heat for cooking then.

    Since Roku recently used BMC Chips are their 4K boxes BMC ?

    Interesting Roku review quote

    ” Some of things that seemed to be wrong with the Roku 4 revolved around its energy consumption: the device ran constantly (and ran hot); wouldn’t always turn on after a 30-minute energy energy saver; and, once off the Roku 4 wouldn’t turn on via the remote. Roku Ultra, at least in the 24 hours we’ve been running it, doesn’t run as hot as Roku 4 ”

    ref http://hd-report.com/2016/10/14/review-of-the-roku-ultra-with-4k-hdr/

    Is this the source of possible 4K Pi tarts Soc?

  33. tkaiser
    October 16th, 2016 at 19:34 | #33

    @theguyuk
    You try to use a device using a Sigma Design SoC (do a google search for STV7723A01) to do Broadcom bashing. Congratulations.

  34. theguyuk
    October 16th, 2016 at 19:56 | #34

    @tkaiser

    Still heat problems in a confind space ..

  35. October 16th, 2016 at 21:43 | #35

    Gotta love the deep technical discussions here when this is all a marketing play by NEC

  36. Theguyuk
    October 21st, 2016 at 21:13 | #36

    Here is how you keep your Pi 3 cool, as in not hot, alegdly.

    https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=163350

    That will look nice on the back of your NEC

  37. tkaiser
    October 21st, 2016 at 22:18 | #37

    @Theguyuk
    Your Broadcom bashing gets boring since really no one needs those overprized Cogent.design aluminium enclosures (they also sell one for the ODROID-C2 where it’s really absurd since the stock heatsink is pretty efficient and requires huge amounts of work to be removed without causing damage).

    In a digital signage situation you control the codecs to be supported, the most demanding task will be h.264 decoding and this happens entirely on the VC4 HW accelerated (yeah, temperature increases and the amount is the same on any VC4 based SoC regardless of ARM cores used and clocked). No one will be dumb enough in this scenario to use unsupported codecs like HEVC (which would result in thermal problems since no efficient HW acceleration is available)

  38. WerdNik
    October 30th, 2016 at 02:36 | #38

    @agumonkey

    That’s just a complete misunderstanding. Really it’s 180 degrees off target.

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