The original Raspberry Pi was originally intended to be a low-powered, easily-extensible computer to help children learn computer science concepts. Those traits made the unit popular with all kinds users, including retro video game enthusiasts, IoT developers, and embedded systems designers. Back in 2014, the Raspberry Pi Foundation released the Pi Compute Module variant, a single-board computer with 4GB of integrated eMMC storage and a smaller footprint. The Foundation has now released a refreshed Compute Module 3, sporting the same quad-core SoC and 1GB of RAM as the latest Raspberry Pi 3. The CM3 is intended for use in embedded applications and IoT devices.
The Module 3's quad-core Soc is based on a Cortex A53 design running at 1.2 GHz. This spec bump results in a claimed ten-fold boost to computing power when compared to the the original Compute Module's single-core 700 MHz SoC. The new model ships with 4GB of eMMC storage, and there's a slightly-cheaper "Lite" version available with no onboard flash.
The CM3 fits into the same type of physical slot as before, which provides all the I/O connectivity. Users will need additional hardware like the Compute Module IO Board V3 (CMIO3) development board to add Ethernet jacks, USB ports, and GPIO pins. Both the CM3 and CMIO3 lack the integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities of the Raspberry Pi 3, too. Although it's possible to use the CM3 in place of an older Compute Module board, the CM3's larger dimensions and higher power consumption might throw a couple wrinkles into the upgrade process.
The Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 is available now for $30 with 4GB of onboard storage or $25 without. Most buyers will want at least one development breakout board, which sells for about $120 (or £96). The CM3 can be used with the Pi Foundation's Raspbian operating system or Microsoft's Windows 10 IoT Core.