Japanese electronics maker NEC plans to launch a series of displays with BIG screens and tiny computers for their brains.

The upcoming line of commercial displays will have screen sizes ranging from 40 to 98 inches, and they’ll use a Pi Compute Module to power digital signage and other applications. There’s an internal bay in each display that can accept either a first-gen Raspberry Pi Compute Module or the upcoming Compute Module 3.

The new displays should be available in January, 2017.


The Raspberry Pi Compute Module is a tiny PC that looks like a stick of laptop memory. First introduced in 2014, it’s basically a small alternative to a full-sized Raspberry Pi computer (which is only about the size of a credit card).

The Compute Module doesn’t have all the ports you get on a normal Raspberry Pi, but that’s because it’s not meant to be used as a standalone computer. Instead, it’s a system that you can use to build hardware that uses a Raspberry Pi computer for its memory, storage, and processing power, and which can run all Raspberry Pi-compatible software.

While the original Compute Module is based on first-gen Raspberry Pi hardware, the upcoming Compute Module 3 has the same basic specs as the newer Raspberry Pi 3, including:

  • 1.2 GHz BCM2837 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 processor
  • 1GB of LPDDR2 memory
  • 4GB of eMMC storage* (see notes below)

It sounds like NEC will be one of the first companies to release a product with Compute Module 3 support, but the Raspberry Pi Foundation says there are plans to release the new PC-on-a-module more widely later in 2017.


Raspberry Pi co-founder Eben Upton says the organization has been working with NEC on the new product lineup for over a year, and in addition to supporting a normal Compute Module, the system will also support a special version which has 16GB of eMMC storage (as opposed to the usual 4GB).

In addition to digital signage, Upton says he envisions the NEC displays being used for interactive presentations and other Internet of Things applications.

And unlike some smart displays, these NEC screens should be relatively easy to upgrade as the Raspberry Pi Foundation releases future versions of its Compute Module.

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