What is the Difference Between Normal Raspberry Pi and The Compute Module?

Is the Compute Module Better than the Full Featured Board?

What makes them different OR better?

Difference Between Normal Raspberry Pi and The Compute Module?

A lot of us like me did not know about the existence of a Raspberry Pi compute module until the CM 4 released, this made me research how the compute module is different from the latest Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. This is what I found.

Let's first start with how the compute module is different from the Raspberry Pi board itself. 

For simplicity purposes...

You can think of it as a raspberry pi board with all the connectors cut off. With some toppings of few extra features!

Before you read further if you would rather listen to all this content in audio format check out our podcast below!

Features Comparison

For comparing the features built-in these boards we will be comparing the latest compute module and raspberry pi 4. 

Let's start with the normal stats then dive into some other things which can alter the features.

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

  • Broadcom BCM2711, Quad core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.5GHz

  • 2GB, 4GB or 8GB LPDDR4-3200 SDRAM (depending on model)

  • 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz IEEE 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 5.0, BLE

  • Gigabit Ethernet

  • 2 USB 3.0 ports; 2 USB 2.0 ports.

  • Raspberry Pi standard 40 pin GPIO header (fully backward compatible with previous boards)

  • 2 × micro-HDMI ports (up to 4kp60 supported)

  • 2-lane MIPI DSI display port

  • 2-lane MIPI CSI camera port

  • 4-pole stereo audio and composite video port

  • H.265 (4kp60 decode), H264 (1080p60 decode, 1080p30 encode)

  • OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics

  • Micro-SD card slot for loading operating system and data storage

  • 5V DC via USB-C connector (minimum 3A*)

  • 5V DC via GPIO header (minimum 3A*)

  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) enabled (requires separate PoE HAT)

  • Operating temperature: 0 – 50 degrees C ambient

* A good quality 2.5A power supply can be used if downstream USB peripherals consume less than 500mA in total.

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4

  • Broadcom BCM2711 quad-core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.5GHz

  • H.265 (HEVC) (up to 4Kp60 decode), H.264 (up to 1080p60 decode, 1080p30 encode) 

  • OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics

  • Options for 1GB, 2GB, 4GB or 8GB LPDDR4-3200 SDRAM (depending on variant)

  • Options for 0GB ("Lite"), 8GB, 16GB or 32GB eMMC Flash memory (depending on variant)

  • Option for fully certified radio module:
    2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz IEEE 802.11 b/g/n/ac wireless;
    Bluetooth 5.0, BLE;
    On-board electronic switch to select either external or PCB trace antenna

  • What's the major difference? The options, wireless connectivity, and all the ports itself.

    Now let's understand what are the expansion capabilities on them. 

    Speaking of the normal edition board, there is little or no scope of expansion. Well, there are a few people who make clusters of them to make it better but it is not something everyone would be willing to do.

    But the compute module is designed to be improvised or expanded with the help of the various connectors. If you go for the official IO board given by Raspberry Pi creators.

    Here is what the expansion adds to the module!

  • External power connector (+12V, +5V)
  • 2 x full-size HDMI 2.0 connectors
  • 2 x USB 2.0 connectors, with header for two additional connectors
  • Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 with PoE support
  • Micro USB socket for updating Compute Module 4
  • MicroSD card socket for Compute Module 4 Lite (without eMMC) variants
  • PCIe Gen 2 x1 socket
  • Standard fan connector
  • 2 x MIPI DSI display FPC connectors (22-pin 0.5 mm pitch cable)
  • 2 x MIPI CSI-2 camera FPC connectors (22-pin 0.5 mm pitch cable)
  • Standard Raspberry Pi HAT connectors
  • Real-time clock with battery socket and the ability to wake Compute Module 4
  • Various jumpers to disable specific features, e.g. wireless connectivity, EEPROM writing

    Use Of PCIe slot on Raspberry Pi CM 4

As we all know... the major thing that all of us are looking at is the "PCIe Gen 2 x1 socket" so that we can get a GPU running! Well, it's not yet been done... however I'm quite sure someone will get a GPU running on the Raspberry Pi CM 4.

But we can confirm that it will easily support SSD's of 1 TB if you want to use it like a database server kind of stuff or just want to use the advantages of cloud computing... you could simply use it to get more USB ports for better connectivity. 

But there also something else for you to consider! 3rd party manufacturers are also putting their hands into this.

For example,

Turning Pi 2 
is a mini ITX-sized desktop cluster computer that you can configure with four Compute Module 4 (CM4) boards with up to 32GB of RAM.

The Turing Pi 2 mainboard features connectors for Mini PCI Express, two SATA 3 ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet, an ATX power connector, HDMI out, and a connector for the official Raspberry Pi touchscreen.

It also comes with four USB ports that are likely USB 3.0, though this is not known at the present time.

Below are the major features you can get!

  • Layer 2 Managed Switch
  • 2 x Mini PCI Express
  • 2 x SATA III 6 Gbps
  • 12 Gbps Backplane Bandwidth
  • Cluster Management Bus (I2C)
  • VLAN Support

Wireless Connectivity

The company themselves offers a separate purchase for the antenna add on but technically you could get many different types of antennas running on the compute module easily.

Wireless connectivity of raspberry pi 4

Pricing of the Modules

Quite obviously even if the CM4 board has better expansion options it costs a lot more due to the add ons but the Raspberry Pi 4 b is a reliable purchase and you won't have to do a lot of things to get it working the way you want.


If you are a person who wants to just get a server online to run some simple applications or use it as a simple computer you could go for the 
Raspberry Pi 4 model b.

If you build a long-term project or work on something that requires a lot of ram or storage you could consider going for the compute module 4.

Hope this article gave you value for your time! You could always support us by finding us on InstagramFacebook, or Pinterest to stay updated.

You can also find me(updownvizzii) on almost any social platform for a chat!

Post a Comment