Orange Pi's CM5 Offers a High-Performance Alternative to the Raspberry Pi CM4

Available with up to 16GB of memory, the compact Orange Pi CM5 is designed to deliver high performance for on-device AI and more.

Embedded hardware specialist Orange Pi has launched a high-performance alternative to the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 (CM4) system-on-module range, dubbed — somewhat unsurprisingly — the Orange Pi CM5, boasting a Rockchip RK3588S system-on-chip and neural coprocessor for on-device machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML and AI) workloads.

"Orange Pi CM5 [is a] compact and powerful industrial PC," the company claims of its latest hardware launch, designed as an alternative to the popular Raspberry Pi CM4 and brought to our attention by CNX Software. "Orange Pi CM5 is powered by the Rockchip RK3588S 8-core 64-bit processor with four Cortex-A76 (2.4GHz) and four Cortex-A55 (1.8GHz) [cores]."

The eight main processing cores, four tuned for performance and four for energy efficiency, aren't the only processors in the RK3588S, though: the chip also offers an Arm Mali-G610 GPU and a neural processing unit (NPU) delivering a claimed six tera-operations per second (TOPS) of compute at its minimum INT4 precision — taking the strain of on-device ML and AI workloads off the CPU. There's a choice of 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB of LPDDR4/4X memory, 32-256GB of eMMC storage, and the familiar Raspberry Pi CM4 board-to-board connectors on the underside — though the two standard connectors are joined by a non-standard third.

This means that while the Orange Pi CM5 — which beats Raspberry Pi's own Compute Module 5, to be based around the same technology as the company's Raspberry Pi 5, to market — should be a drop-in replacement for a Raspberry Pi CM4 in many designs, accessing some of its more advanced features will require a custom carrier with the third connector included.

In a suitable board, the company says, this will deliver three USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port, DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.1 or embedded DisplayPort (eDP) 1.3 ports, four- and two-lane MIPI Display Serial Interface (DSI) and a four-lane Camera Serial Interface (CSI), SATA III and PCI Express 2.0 expansion, SDIO 3.0, and a range of general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins including access to I2C, I2S, UART, SPI, and CAN buses.

Orange Pi, naturally, has a carrier board of its own design, the Orange Pi CM5 Base. This compact board brings out a subset of the board's features while adding a few of its own, including a gigabit Ethernet port and two 2.5-gig-Ethernet ports, an HDMI display output, microSD storage, one each of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, and GPIO on a 12-pin flexible printed circuit (FPC) connector with a second four-pin header providing access to two 12-bit analog to digital converter (ADC) inputs.

The Orange Pi CM5 Base Board is available on the company's AliExpress store at $20, with the CM5 boards themselves beginning at $70 for one with 4GB RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage rising to $119 with 16GB of RAM and 32GB eMMC storage — with all prices representing a claimed 30 percent introductory discount over the planned standard retail price.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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