What is Raspberry Pi?
Raspberry Pi (also known as RPi) is an open-source, cost effective computing platform series of SBCs (Single Board Computers) developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation catered towards entry-level and prototype projects. It is rather inexpensive and provides the bare essential I/O needed for enthusiasts and students to test their designs. Because of Raspberry Pi’s open-source model, it offers users unrestricted controls over the computer and encourages innovation and creativity in contrast to proprietary closed systems. The construction of the Raspberry Pi is convenient with the OS easily accessible through an SD card slot and is powered through a phone charger. This credit-card sized computer is a powerful tool for programmers due to its portability, cost, connectivity, and programmability.
Most Raspberry Pi’s Are Incompatible For Rugged Edge Computing
Raspberry Pi’s do not comply with industrial standards as they were meant for more consumer-grade applications. Remember, the Raspberry Pi was developed and designed for educational and entry-level hobbyist purposes. Industrial standards such as wide operating temperatures, shock and vibration resistance, etc. are not features that were considered. There are multiple critical points of failure that can be easily identified and exempt the utilization of a Raspberry Pi for an industrial application such as:
- SD card slot for OS and storage
- Lack of thermal management
- Limited I/O scalability and flexibility for industrial uses
However, Raspberry Pi has recognized that there is demand for industrial use cases and enterprises have sought an industrial computing solution utilizing their platform. Compute Module 4, a Raspberry Pi SoM (System on Module) designed for deeply embedded applications. As a Compute Module, this allows system integrators and OEM designers to develop their own I/O board. For enterprises that do not require specific OEM designs, Raspberry Pi provides an I/O board to pair with it and demonstrate the modules compute capabilities. The Compute Module 4 (CM4) offers improved durability and features dedicated to industrial standards in comparison to its consumer-grade RPi’s. These features include:
- On-board eMMC storage
- Compliances to FCC
- ECC Memory support
- IoT-oriented I/O
Although it may seem reasonable to integrate Raspberry Pi into embedded systems, there are alternatives that offer even greater enhanced features that are worth looking into.
What Is an Industrial Raspberry Pi Alternative? (Industrial-Grade SBCs vs Raspberry Pi)
Industrial-Grade SBCs (Single Board Computers) are purpose-built for industrial edge system integration and provide OEM/ODM designers with deployment versatility, I/O flexibility, and high-performance reliability. There are key differences between Raspberry Pi’s CM4 and an industrial SBC that should be considered.
Why Should You Use An Industrial Raspberry Pi Alternative?
Even though Raspberry Pi has developed an industrial Compute Module, there are still an abundance of alternatives worth considering especially when it comes to longevity, scalability, and long-term support for an enterprise. Industrial SBCs and industrial computers offer higher quality assurance and have dedicated technical support for development inquiries. Here are several features that should be noted when seeking an industrial raspberry pi alternative solution:
1. Industrial-Grade Standards
Industrial SBCs follow strict guidelines and standards for quality assurance when deployed to the rugged edge such as wide operating temperatures (-40~75°C), fTPM, and FCC & CE certifications. These features are achieved through a selection of curated components that deliver both performance and ruggedness. Since Raspberry Pi’s do not have TPM 2.0 incorporated into their ARM chip, a discrete TPM is needed. This is an additional cost that can be avoided with an industrial SBC that utilizes a CPU that already includes fTPM. ECC memory support is limited to Compute Module 4 while most industrial SBCs typically offer ECC support.
2. Dedicated Proprietary Support (vs Open Source)
SBCs have dedicated proprietary support from leading semiconductor and operating system companies such as Intel, AMD, and Microsoft. Although there are many perks to open-source software, enterprises typically rely on a dedicated support team for solutions and troubleshooting. Proprietary software, such as Windows 10 IoT, with a dedicated professional support sector with technical expertise can reliably assist enterprises with potential issues. This is a predicament that must be highlighted when deciding on Raspberry Pi for industrial solutions since open-source software is backed by its own community. Proprietary software also ensures consistency with specified standards and regulations. Additionally, Enterprises do not need full control over the OS or hardware and benefit from proprietary software as it has a more reliable support protocol.
When compared to Raspberry Pi’s, industrial SBCs offer substantially more scalability in terms of upgradability, compatibility, and I/O. There is only one sufficient Raspberry Pi for industrial use and if there is potential for future upgrades or changes in development, a new platform may be needed. Enterprises may find themselves ‘stuck’ as they designed around the RPi but seek a more flexible solution that meets their specifications. In a case study highlighting the 3.5” AMD Ryzen Embedded SBC, an additional 10 USB ports were implemented through a customizable 50-pin connector for high-speed I/O. There are plenty of industrial SBCs that can satisfy specific requirements/demands and be cross-compatible with proprietary software.
Extended lifecycles are a necessity in the embedded computing world as industrial applications do not require constant upgrades. Typically, consumer processors have product lifecycle support of a couple years, however, AMD and Intel have committed to an embedded processor series that offers 10-year and 15-year product support lifecycle roadmaps. Enterprises can confidently utilize these embedded processors in their edge applications knowing that their systems are backed with prolonged support for an extended timescale.
Raspberry Pi Alternatives by Premio
Our selection of industrial single board computers is all purpose-built with the intent of providing OEM/ODM designers and system integrators with I/O flexibility, performance, and reliability for their applications. With choices from standardized form factors to customized I/O configurations, Premio is capable of providing a much versatile alternative to the Raspberry Pi.
- 1.8”, 2.5", & 3.5” Form Factors
- Intel and AMD Embedded Processors
- I/O Versatility
- System Integration-Ready
Discover Premio’s Industrial SBCs >>
Fanless Industrial Mini Computers
The BCO-1000 Series delivers similar performance to our 3.5" CT-DBT0x SBC except it utilizes a unique cableless and fanless design all within an ultra-compact chassis. Industrial applications that require the performance and power efficiency of an SBC in an enclosure will find the BCO-1000 Series beneficial.
- Fanless & Cableless Design
- Universal I/O Expandability
- IoT-Centric I/Os
Need the performance of an industrial SBC all within a hardened enclosure? The RCO-1000 Series is our smallest form factor industrial computer that provides high-performance processing, rugged reliability, and expandable I/O.
- Ultra-compact form factor
- Fanless & Cableless Design
- Expandable I/O Flexibility
- Ruggedized Features