BigTreeTech's CB1 Takes On Raspberry Pi CM4

The BigTreeTech CB1
(Image credit: BigTreeTech)

BigTreeTech known primarily for its 3D printing accessories, has released a Raspberry Pi CM4 (opens in new tab) alternative board. The device, as reported by CNX Software (opens in new tab), uses the exact same form factor as the Compute Module, but downgrades the specs. Still, if you’re after a low-power board for IoT or other product that needs the kind of IO a CM4 can provide, this looks like a reasonable replacement.

The BigTreeTech CB1

(Image credit: BigTreeTech)

There's also a carrier board that turns it into a full-fat Pi 4 B-style (opens in new tab) board, but the actual specs look weak in comparison to the real thing. You get an Allwinner H616 quad-core Cortex-A53 SoC running at 1.5GHz, a Mali-G31 MP2 GPU and a single gigabyte of RAM. DDR3 RAM, at that. It’s not a great comparison to the tiny powerhouse that is the Pi 4, but it might be enough for a NAS or other low-power computing project.

The CB1 will decode video up to 4K/60 and display it via a single HDMI port on a carrier board. It can communicate using Wi-Fi 4, or 100Mbps Ethernet via a carrier, and there are two board-to-board connectors close enough to those on the CM4 to make it compatible with accessories made for the more powerful module. It measures 55 x 40 x 4.7mm - the same as, you’ve guessed it, the CM4.

There's good software support too, with an image of Debian Linux available to download from GitHub (opens in new tab). It’s a version of Bullseye, the distro that powers the official Raspberry Pi OS, and uses kernel 5.16, so isn’t particularly out of date, though the chipset is supported in the new 6.0 Linux kernel (opens in new tab).

Performance should be similar to the Raspberry Pi 3, which was never released in the CM4’s form factor, instead appearing as a DIMM-like board with a broad edge connector. The CB1 is available from the Biqu store (opens in new tab) in a bundle with the Pi adapter for around $40. It has yet to appear on BigTreeTech’s AliExpress store (opens in new tab) but when it does make sure to use an AliExpress promo code.

Ian Evenden
Freelance News Writer

Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.

  • Kshensley71
    I'd be careful and read the forums especially on Facebook and GitHub. I was an early purchaser and bought 4 of these. The software was a mess, it was impossible for many to get the wifi set up, it took me 2 days to get it working well and that was using another forums user method for essentially wiping out all the bad set ups in Biqu distro and reinstalling most components. That one is still working well. One of the other PI4b modules I received was bad and I could never get their customer service to help me. The Customer service sent me to Tech support and they just never responded. The module is 100,,% bad other CB1 modules don't work in it, and they do work in my other one, but I couldn't get a replacement or refund. It's not a bad module, but it is not easy to get running and isn't as good as a Pi.
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