Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 to Expose Its PCIe Gen. 2 Lane at the Edge for High-Speed Peripherals

New, more powerful COM based on the same SoC as the Raspberry Pi 4 due out within the next year, says Eben Upton.

Raspberry Pi Foundation co-founder Eben Upton has confirmed that a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 is in the works, and that it may expose both PCI Express (PCIe) and Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) connectivity for external hardware.

The launch of the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B brought with it not only a major upgrade to the CPU, GPU, and RAM on the popular single-board computer, but a big boost in peripheral connectivity: The board's first PCI Express (PCIe) support, used to drive two USB 3.0 ports as well as provide the family's first gigabit-capable Ethernet port.

This PCIe connectivity isn't exposed externally, however, leading some to remove the USB 3.0 controller chip and replace it with a pass-through board — allowing external PCIe devices to be connected to the board, driver support permitting.

Those little hacks haven't gone unnoticed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, with Upton revealing in a Tom's Hardware interview that a planned upgrade to the Raspberry Pi Compute Module range could bring with it external PCIe support — along with compatibility with high-speed NVMe storage devices.

The Compute Module range takes the Raspberry Pi SBC concept and switches it into a computer-on-module (COM) format. With no connectors of its own bar a SODIMM-format edge connector, the Compute Module is entirely reliant on a breakout board for connectivity — and the Compute Module 4 will use this edge connector to expose the PCIe Gen. 2 lane, no hacking required.

Upton is silent on pricing for the Compute Module 4, as well as a firm launch date — beyond stating that it would be out within the next year.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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