The project was planned to be modular, which helps break down the design phases. This started with the core Minimum Demonstratable Product.
The first stage revolved around getting the support components for the system on chip, a Raspberry Pi CM4, designed-in effectively onto a carrier board, which broke out the required signals to a plug-in connector. We next built an evaluation board to mate with the computing module, and provide the access to the Raspberry Pi IO, including USB and Gigabit Ethernet. As well as everything required for booting and programming. As a design partner to Raspberry Pi we were well placed to work on this project.
We delivered a proven design which worked first time for both the plug-in board and the evaluation board giving the customer a tool which they could develop with.
The next iteration in their design plan, after the single evaluation board, was a multi-node back plane to prove the gigabit ethernet switching and internode connectivity. For this we utilised a set of ethernet switches. These were connected to form a multi-unit cluster.
The board featured all of the high power, high efficiency power supplies required and full USB connectivity. To allow debug and programming. It contained multiple management microcontrollers to control the low-level signalling. These boards were also designed to be stacked to form a larger configuration for their first demonstrator unit.