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Embedded Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 KVM Card Offers Full Remote Control

blicube BliKVM
(Image credit: blicube)

Putting a computer inside a computer may seem like something Xzibit may have done in the early 2000s. But this awkwardly named Blicube BLiKVM PCIe (Pi CM4) is a PCIe card bearing a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 (opens in new tab), dug up and tweeted about (opens in new tab) by Jeff Geerling, which acts as a remote control unit for your PC. 

blicube BliKVM

(Image credit: blicube)

It’s important to point out right away that the PCIe housing is just a support structure. It doesn’t power the Pi, or interface with it in any way. It’s just a tidy way of tucking it out of sight. The whole thing acts as a KVM unit over IP, so another computer on the network or over the internet can take complete control of the PC it’s attached to, including doing things like changing BIOS settings and interacting with an ATX power supply.

Powered externally via PoE or through a USB-C port, the card runs the open-source PiKVM (opens in new tab)operating system (Arch Linux with custom repositories) we’ve featured before (opens in new tab), and connects to the host PC by USB and HDMI on the outside of the case. The only internal ports are the ATX connector and a UART, though there is also a connector for an OLED screen that appears unpopulated. Once plugged in, it appears to the host as a USB device, and captures its video output. An administrator logs into the CM4 remotely (and securely) then uses it to control the host, benefitting from a 1080p stream of its video output from that captured HDMI feed.

Usually available as a DIY kit, the PCIE card is being sold with or without the Compute Module 4. The CM4 version can appear to the host PC as a USB mass storage drive - presumably a partition of the Micro SD card - and can simulate the insertion and removal of the drive. 

With KVM over IP switches often costing many hundreds of dollars, this appears to be a cost-effective and neat way of achieving a common server-admin task. Perhaps Xzibit would be proud after all. The unit is available from AliExpress (opens in new tab), starting at around $120 without the CM4 or delivery.

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.

  • Armisis
    Computers in side of computers was the realm of Commadore Amiga decades before. They were amazing at it. Have to wonder who actually holds that patent now.
    Reply
  • LuxZg
    Well, if it was an outside 1U box allowing control of 10+ PCs (servers) then I'd be amazed. Having KVM for single PC defeats the purpose. Plus servers usually have this functionality built in as a part of IPMI (whatever the marketing name of each OEM). And not using at least PCIe for power is like a huge missed opportunity.
    Reply