Very interesting topic to discuss and thank you @Valeria for initiating the discussion.
These type of discussions can come of as negative, so I wanted to take a step back and go back to the origins.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK-based charity that works to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world. We do this so that more people are able to harness the power of computing and digital technologies for work, to solve problems that matter to them, and to express themselves creatively.
One has to keep in mind that Raspberry Pi devices are designed to support above statement, and imo they are doing a good job at here. A driving factor is “cheap”, and this does not normally translate to high quality when you choose components etc.
But if you start looking at using Pi devices for use-cases that are outside of the designated purpose, it will of course have limitations, because it simply was not designed for that use-case.
The Compute Module is a spinoff product from Raspberry Pi SBC’s, an attempt to support a “more professional” use-case. I guess because they saw that there was a demand as I do not see how it supports their “mission”, beside maybe that it will make money so they can focus on the “true mission”.
Since CM is largely based on the Pi SBC’s, it also inherits many of the issues that are outlined in the linked article, and that have been brought up by other people in this thread. Making it something “in between”.
A couple of things that I would like to highlight:
comment from @thesillywhat:
we can’t buy them in bulk
The ability to buy the components you need for your product is of course critical, and the RPi supply chain is not transparent and you rely on resellers. You soon realize that official resellers are out of stock and you have to go to unofficial resellers typically paying a higher price, because you need the components.
comment from @robert.berger:
there are no guarantees how long each board will be available
Actually for the CM products they do have an obsolescence statement, e.g:
Compute Module 3+ will remain in production until at least January 2026
I do not believe there is anything like this for the SBC’s
Regarding software support
Raspberry Pi boards are remarkably supported via online forums and community
This is primarily for “maker” use-cases imo. If you want to run Kodi, Home Assistant or whatever you will probably find very good support for this in the community.
But professionally, the software support for Raspberry Pi is not much better then other traditional production grade vendors. It is also a common misconception that Raspberry Pi is “more upstream” then others.
Yes, it might be a “reference board” for many projects (such as Mender ), but you should not base your hardware decision based on this alone. It mostly a reference board because it is generally available.
Traditional vendors also provide commercial support for the products they built and you are able to have the possibility to build a strategic business relationship with the supplier (underrated!).
If you care about security and would like to support secure boot, you are out of luck if you are using a Raspberry Pi (regardless of CM or SBC).
Made up word :), but since we work with OTA, Raspberry Pi devices get a very low rating in ability to update the software of the device. Mostly because of how the boot process works and the boot firmware files. You can find more info in Updating Raspberry Pi boot firmware files using Yocto Project and Mender
In the end the question is should you use Raspberry Pi SBC’s or CM in a commercial product? It depends. You need to be aware of the limitations and match them against your short/long-term requirements and make a informed decision.
I personally would probably never use any of them, but I also have been doing this for a long time and I am able to navigate the landscape, which is scary (so many options!) once you start looking beyond Raspberry Pi’s.