Despite assurances by Eben Upton that there’s no supply shortage of Raspberry Pi CM4 modules for commercial and industrial customers, installations or projects requiring just a few modules may be out of luck. So alternatives are needed, and after seeing Rockchip RK3566-based SoMs compatible with Pi CM4, namely the Pine64 SoPine and Radxa CM3, Banana Pi is working on a Raspberry Pi CM4 compatible module powered by Amlogic A311D hexa-core Arm Cortex-A73/A53 processor.
Banana Pi BPI-CM4 specifications:
- SoC – Amlogic A311D hexa-core processor with 4x Arm Cortex-A73 @ 2.0 GHz and 2x Arm Cortex-A53 @, Arm Mali-G52 MP4 (6EE) GPU, 5 TOPS NPU
- System Memory – 2GB/4GB LPDDR4 RAM
- Storage – 16GB eMMC flash (up to 128GB)
- Networking – Gigabit Ethernet PHY on-module, optional WiFi 5/6 module with on-board PCB antenna and external antenna
- 2x 100-pin high-density board-to-board connector (mostly) compatible with Raspberry Pi CM4 with 1x HDMI, 1x MIPI DSI, PCIe, Gigabit Ethernet, etc…
- Supply Voltage – 5V
- Dimensions – 55 x 40 mm with 4x M2.5 mounting holes
The module is pin-to-pin compatible in the sense it can be inserted into a Raspberry Pi CM4 baseboard, but one caveat is that Amlogic A311D SoC does not support all interfaces from the Raspberry Pi system-on-module. While the Raspberry Pi CM4 supports 2x HDMI, 2x MIPI CSI, 2x MIPI DSI, the Banana Pi BPI-CM4 will only expose 1x HDMI, 1x MIPI CSI, and 1x MIPI DSI as illustrated in the schamtics extract below.
Amlogic A311D processor may not a bad choice, as for instance it is found in Khadas VIM3 SBC, an Android reference board, and with proper cooling, it will be quite faster than the Broadcom BCM2711 found in Raspberry Pi CM4, even when the latter is overclocked to 2.0 GHz or more.
The WiFi 6 option may be interesting, but I’ve been told about cooling issues with WiFi 6 under load (i.e. sustained high-speed transfer) on a similarly sized module.
Banana Pi is only showing renders, and based on my previous experience with their announcements, that may mean Banana Pi BPI-CM4 availability in Q4 2022 or Q1 2023. The company is not known for attention to detail either, so expect poor documentation and Linux and Android images that boot but could be filled with bugs. The good news (sort of) is that it should be possible to evaluate the software in advance in the soon-to-be-launched Banana Pi BPI-M2S SBC also powered by the Amlogic A311D SoC. More details may be found in the forum thread on the Banana Pi website.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.