Basically, the core technology of a Pi has been repackaged and released in a new form, aimed at those creating their own PCB. You can now fit the core of the Pi into your own larger system.
The Compuer Module contains the same BCM2835 processor with 512Mbyte of RAM and a 4Gbyte eMMC Flash device (an equivalent of the SD card in the Pi).
This is all integrated on to a small 67.6x30mm board which fits into a standard DDR2 SODIMM connector (the same type of connector as used for laptop memory). The Flash memory is connected directly to the processor on the board, but the remaining processor interfaces are available to the user via the connector pins. You get the full flexibility of the BCM2835 SoC (which means that many more GPIOs and interfaces are available as compared to the Raspberry Pi), and designing the module into a custom system should be relatively straightforward as we've put all the tricky bits onto the module itself.
So what you are seeing here is a Raspberry Pi shrunk down to fit on a SODIMM with onboard memory, whose connectors you can customise for your own needs.
The new module is coming into the world accompanied by a sibling - the organisation is also launching the Compute Module IO Board (right) to help designers get started with the new module.
You can plug the new Compute Module into this open-source breakout board to provide the necessary power and give you the ability to program the module's Flash memory and access the processor interfaces.
The Raspberry Pi team says it also provides "the necessary HDMI and USB connectors so that you have an entire system that can boot Raspbian (or the OS of your choice)".
This board provides both a starting template for those who want to design with the Compute Module, and a quick way to start experimenting with the hardware and building and testing a system before going to the expense of fabricating a custom board.
RS Components provides some tech specs, and says both the Compute Pi and IO board "will be available soon from RS".
Pi Compute Module:
- SODIMM: 6.5cm x 3cm
- BCM2835 processor with 512MB SDRAM
- 4GB eMMC (MLC) Flash
- JTAG (for our development use only)
- uUSB type B
- USB type A
- uUSB (power)
- GPIO connectors