Behind the scenes, our experienced team of automation developers has been working feverishly on this project for quite some time. Now, with the latest, the fourth Raspberry Pi® generation “Compute Module 4 (CM4)“, the time is ripe: Berghof Automation and Control Solutions, industry pioneer in the field of industrial automation, is now establishing the mini computer, which is extremely popular in the developer scene due to its unique price-to-performance ratio, for industrial use with a complete system of Raspberry Pi® CODESYS controllers and Raspberry Pi® industrial PCs. By doing so, the business unit of Berghof Automation GmbH once again lives up to its motto “Pioneering Automation Solutions“.
There have been continually mounting demands on control systems for modern production plants – and this trend has accelerated rapidly again in the past year, partly as a result of the Corona pandemic. This led to a rapidly growing importance of remote control and remote service, i.e. remote access and remote maintenance.
Sustainable control systems have to manage multiple tasks simultaneously without compromising their real-time performance and reliability. Motion, IoT tasks, communication, visualization - today's control systems must manage and regulate everything simultaneously. So it’s no wonder that a large number of systems have already reached their limits and that there’s an ever growing need for performance reserves.
At the same time, technology keeps developing at a rapid pace. Today, decision making on a new controller or a new industrial PC must therefore keep in mind that the selected solution is open with respect to future plans. This is necessary if a company does not want to block paths unnecessarily and be annoyed by this technological dead end later.
In addition, when controllers or industrial PCs are replaced in a given location, for example in an existing control cabinet, the space available is correspondingly limited. For this reason, developers dealing with solutions for use under tough industrial conditions, have had their eyes on the compact, cost-effective and powerful mini-computer Raspberry Pi® for some time now.
Apart from the low price and the attractive performance data, there is quite another aspect that speaks in favor of this small power plant: In the huge, worldwide user community, new and exciting software ideas are constantly being created - as with the Linux software platform - that can be used quickly and easily on all “Raspberry Pi“ computers. That’s why this device is also very interesting as a basis for industrial PCs.
Until now, however, there has also been a serious weak spot: The first three Raspberry Pi® generations were designed more as a low-cost platform for experimentation and research for students and young developers and less for this professional purpose – and therefore they were, without specially developed extras, only of limited usefulness in that area.
The Raspberry Pi®, until now, has lacked most of the interfaces that are important for modern industrial applications. It was possible to “flange on“ these interfaces later, but this was an awkward solution – erasing part of the price advantage. Even more important: Until now, it was impossible to use “EtherCAT“ – which has been by far the most popular and important real-time communication standard in the industrial sector for years.
This has changed with the latest, the fourth Raspberry Pi® generation, the so-called “Compute Module 4 (CM4)“ – and therefore many experts expect the mini-computer with the size of a credit card, which has been sold millions of times, to become now also a bestseller for industrial use.
For the “CM4“ is not only really fast thanks to Gigabit Ethernet, i.e. a data transfer rate of 1,000 Mbit/s, a powerful 1,500 MHz QuadCore CPU and a modern GPU that provides 4K resolution, for example – it is also equipped with all the interfaces that are necessary and useful for modern industrial applications, such as the “Industrial Internet of Things“ (IIoT) and Industry 4.0.