Adapter Board Set to Bring the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 to MNT's Reform Open-Hardware Laptop

Adapter board would sit in place of the existing SOM and accept any CM4 module — but the design isn't quite finished yet.

Gareth Halfacree
17 days agoHW101

The aggressively open MNT Reform laptop is set to gain compatibility with the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4, thanks to a new adapter board that will allow it to slot into place on the existing motherboard.

The original MNT Reform was unveiled three years ago as a laptop built from the ground-up to be as open as possible, from the electrical designs to the chassis and the software which runs on top. Last year its successor, still called the MNT Reform, completed a successful crowdfunding campaign — but its creator, Lukas F. Hartmann, isn't resting on his laurels.

"I had started work on a CM4 [Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4] adapter for MNT Reform," Hartmann writes. "I would 'just' need to finish it and then we could experiment with the CM4 and pin compatible modules."

"Of course, one could also adapt the MNT Reform motherboard itself to be able to carry CM4-compatible modules, but the adapter would be a good first step for prototyping."

Once finished, the adapter — which is just as open as the rest of the MNT Reform's design - would allow the existing system-on-module to be removed and replaced with a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4. Doing so would, benchmarks have shown, improve the CPU performance at the cost of 3D rendering — but also provide the option of having twice as much RAM as the stock SOM at 8GB.

It's not the first replacement SOM design Hartmann has come up with either: Other designs include an upgraded open-hardware SOM featuring the more powerful NXP Layerscape LS1028A system-on-chip and up to 16GB of RAM and one built around the Xilinx Kintex-7 FPGA — allowing Reform users to load their own soft-core processors, including those based on free and open-source instruction set architectures like OpenPOWER and RISC-V.

Those interested in the CM4 adapter can find KiCad project files on the MNT Reform GitLab repository, but anyone looking to find something ready-to-buy will be disappointed: Hartmann has not yet finalised the design.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
Latest articles
Sponsored articles
Related articles
Latest articles
Read more
Related articles