Movidius AI Acceleration Technology Comes to a Mini-PCIe Card

By Eric Brown

UP AI Core (front)

As promised by Intel when it announced an Intel AI: In Production program for its USB stick form factor Movidius Neural Compute Stick, Aaeon has launched a mini-PCIe version of the device called the UP AI Core. It similarly integrates Intel’s AI-infused Myriad 2 Vision Processing Unit (VPU). The mini-PCIe connection should provide faster response times for neural networking and machine vision compared to connecting to a cloud-based service.

UP AI Core (back)

The module, which is available for pre-order at $69 for delivery in April, is designed to “enhance industrial IoT edge devices with hardware accelerated deep learning and enhanced machine vision functionality,” says Aaeon. It can also enable “object recognition in products such as drones, high-end virtual reality headsets, robotics, smart home devices, smart cameras and video surveillance solutions.”

 

 

UP Squared

The UP AI Core is optimized for Aaeon’s Ubuntu-supported UP Squared hacker board, which runs on Intel’s Apollo Lake SoCs. However, it should work with any 64-bit x86 computer or SBC equipped with a mini-PCIe slot that runs Ubuntu 16.04. Host systems also require 1GB RAM and 4GB free storage. That presents plenty of options for PCs and embedded computers, although the UP Squared is currently the only x86-based community backed SBC equipped with a Mini-PCIe slot.

Myriad 2 architecture

Aaeon had few technical details about the module, except to say it ships with 512MB of DDR RAM, and offers ultra-low power consumption. The UP AI Core’s mini-PCIe interface likely provides a faster response time than the USB link used by Intel’s $79 Movidius Neural Compute Stick. Aaeon makes no claims to that effect, however, perhaps to avoid

Intel’s Movidius
Neural Compute Stick

disparaging Intel’s Neural Compute Stick or other USB-based products that might emerge from the Intel AI: In Production program.

It’s also possible the performance difference between the two products is negligible, especially compared with the difference between either local processing solutions vs. an Internet connection. Cloud-based connections for accessing neural networking services suffer from reduced latency, network bandwidth, reliability, and security, says Aaeon. The company recommends using the Linux-based SDK to “create and train your neural network in the cloud and then run it locally on AI Core.”

Performance issues aside, because a mini-PCIe module is usually embedded within computers, it provides more security than a USB stck. On the other hand, that same trait hinders ease of mobility. Unlike the UP AI Core, the Neural Compute Stick can run on an ARM-based Raspberry Pi, but only with the help of the Stretch desktop or an Ubuntu 16.04 VirtualBox instance.

In 2016, before it was acquired by Intel, Movidius launched its first local-processing version of the Myriad 2 VPU technology, called the Fathom. This Ubuntu-driven USB stick, which miniaturized the technology in the earlier Myriad 2 reference board, is essentially the same technology that re-emerged as Intel’s Movidius Neural Compute Stick.

UP AI Core, front and back

Neural network processors can significantly outperform traditional computing approaches in tasks like language comprehension, image recognition, and pattern detection. The vast majority of such processors — which are often repurposed GPUs — are designed to run on cloud servers.

AIY Vision Kit

The Myriad 2 technology can translate deep learning frameworks like Caffe and TensorFlow into its own format for rapid prototyping. This is one reason why Google adopted the Myriad 2 technology for its recent AIY Vision Kit for the Raspberry Pi Zero W. The kit’s VisionBonnet pHAT board uses the same Movidius MA2450 chip that powers the UP AI Core. On the VisionBonnet, the processor runs Google’s open source TensorFlow machine intelligence library for neural networking, enabling visual perception processing at up to 30 frames per second.

Intel and Google aren’t alone in their desire to bring AI acceleration to the edge. Huawei released a Kirin 970 SoC for its Mate 10 Pro phone that provides a neural processing coprocessor, and Qualcomm followed up with a Snapdragon 845 SoC with its own neural accelerator. The Snapdragon 845 will soon appear on the Samsung Galaxy S9, among other phones, and will also be heading for some high-end embedded devices.

Last month, Arm unveiled two new Project Trillium AI chip designs intended for use as mobile and embedded coprocessors. Available now is Arm’s second-gen Object Detection (OD) Processor for optimizing visual processing and people/object detection. Due this summer is a Machine Learning (ML) Processor, which will accelerate AI applications including machine translation and face recognition.

Further information

The UP AI Core is available for pre-order at $69 for delivery in late April. More information may be found at Aaeon’s UP AI Core announcement and its UP Community UP AI Edge page for the UP AI Core.

Aaeon | www.aaeon.com

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on March 6.

Skylake-Based SBC Runs on 15 Watts

VersaLogic has released the Condor—a high-performance embedded computer that measures only 95 mm x 95 mm x 37 mm and is built around Intel’s 6th generation “Skylake” Core processor. The Condor provides up to six times the processing power of Intel’s Bay Trail processors, while keeping power consumption as low as 15 Watts.The Condor’s on-board TPM security chip can lock out unauthorized hardware and software access. It provides a secure “Root of Trust.” Additional security is provided through built-in AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) instructions.

PR_EPU-4460_HICondor is the latest addition to VersaLogic’s line of EPU (Embedded Processing Unit) format computers. EPUs are designed around COM Express form factors, but are complete board-level computers. They provide all the future flexibility of separate CPU and I/O modules, and are delivered as complete fully assembled and tested units (including heat plate), ready to bolt into a system.

On-board I/O includes two Gbit Ethernet ports with network boot capability, two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 host ports and two serial ports. One SATA III interface supports high-capacity rotating or solid-state drives. Eight digital I/O lines, I2C and SPI are also available. Two Mini PCIe sockets (one with mSATA capabilities) provide flexible solid-state drive (SSD) options. Systems can be easily enhanced by leveraging the Mini PCIe sockets with plug-in Wi-Fi modems, GPS receivers, MIL-STD-1553, Ethernet, Firewire and other mini cards.

The Condor is designed and tested for industrial temperature (-40° to +85°C) operation and meets MIL-STD-202G specifications to withstand high impact and vibration. For additional reliability, the Condor includes on-board power conditioning which accepts an input of 8 to 30 volts to greatly simplify system power supply design. For additional protection, the conditioner includes Reverse Voltage Protection (RVP) and Over Voltage Protection (OVP) functions.

The Condor, part number VL-EPU-4460, is in stock now. OEM quantity pricing for starts at $1,304 for the Core i3 model with 8 GB RAM.

Versalogic | www.versalogic.com

Mini PCIe Card Serves Up Precision GPS

Versalogic has released an industrial temperature GPS module that provides access to multiple satellite systems. It offers higher accuracy than previous models, for both location and timing data. Its multi-channel capability also allows better accuracy and coverage in difficult environments such as cityscape / building canyons.

PR_MPEu-G3_HIThis advanced GPS receiver provides two simultaneous receiver paths with 72-channel operation for stable satellite tracking, as well as aided startup for fast initial signal acquisition. Increased coverage is provided by support for the GPS (United States), GLONASS (Russian), Galileo (European Union), and BeiDou (China) systems. In addition to positioning and navigation applications, GPS/GNSS signals are widely used as precision time or frequency references for remote or distributed wireless communication, industrial, financial, and power-distribution equipment.

The G3’s extremely small Mini PCIe format allows it to be added to a system with very little impact to the overall size of the system. The G3 is compatible with a variety of popular x86 operating systems including Windows, Windows Embedded, and Linux using standard software drivers.

The G3 is designed and tested for industrial temperature (-40° to +85°C) operation and meets MIL-STD-202G specifications to withstand high impact and vibration. It is RoHS compliant, and includes VersaLogic’s 5+ year production life guarantee. The G3 is customizable, even in low OEM quantities. Customization options include conformal coating, revision locks, custom labeling, customized testing and screening and so on. The VL-MPEu-G3E is available from stock. Pricing is $190 in OEM quantities.

Versalogic | www.versalogic.com

3.5″ SBC Serves up Skylake Processors

COMMELL has announced its LS-37K 3.5-inch embedded mini-board based on Intel 6th/7th generation FCLGA1151 Skylake / Kaby Lake Core processor family and Xeon E3-1200 v5 processor. The Skylake PC is claimed to deliver 30 percent better performance than a PC base on Ivy Bridge architecture, 20 percent better performance than a PC based on Haswell, and 10 percent better performance than a Broadwell PC.

LS-37K-3D8The LS-37K desktop 3.5-inch mini-board platform supports DDR4 memory DIMM 1866/2133 MHz up to 16 GB. The platform is based on Intel HD530 (Skylake) HD630, (Kaby Lake) and HD P530 (Xeon E3-1200v5). For graphics, the Skylake GPU offers 24 execution units (EUs) clocked at up to 1150Mhz (depending on the CPU model). The revised video engine now decodes H.265/HEVC completely in hardware and thereby much more efficiently than before, and HD Graphics 630 GPU is largely identical to the 530 found in Skylake, The only real upgrade here is the HEVC and VP9 support. LS-37K Displays can be connected via 1 VGA, 1 LVDS, 1 DVI, 1 HDMI and one DP port, up to three displays can be controlled simultaneously.

LS-37K offers lots of features including high-speed data transfer interfaces such as 4 x USB3.0 and 2 x SATAIII, equipped with dual Gigabit Ethernet (One of the dual LAN with iAMT 11.0 supported), and comes with PS/2 port, 5 x RS232 and 1 x RS232/422/485, 4 x USB2.0, Intel® High Definition Audio, and 1 Mini PCIe socket (supporting mSATA) and 9 to 30 VDC input.

COMMELL | www.commell.com

Mini PCIe Card Does Ethernet Over Fiber

Versalogic has announced the E4, a new Ethernet over fiber Mini PCIe expansion module for embedded computer systems. Ethernet over fiber offers an extremely dependable, highly secure Ethernet connection that operates over a much longer distance than copper. Where security matters, a fiber optic connection excels. Fiber optic cables have no electromagnetic signature, making them very difficult to tap compared to wired connections.

Veraslogic PR_MPEe-E4_HIVersalogic’s Ethernet over fiber card allows cable runs 5 times longer than Ethernet over copper. It protects against external electromagnetic interference and electrical surges. It also enables extreme security by removing the electro-magnetic signature from the connecting cables. The card supports full industrial temperature rating (-40° to +85°C) provides 1 Gbit/s speed with full duplex support.

The rugged E4 module provides a standardized way to add a bi-directional gigabit channel of Ethernet over fiber to an embedded computing solution. Using latching multi-mode LC type connectors, the E4 can transmit and receive data up to 550 m. The E4’s extremely small Mini PCIe format allows it to be added to an embedded computer board with very little impact to the overall size of the system. Compatible with a variety of popular x86 operating systems including Windows, Windows Embedded, and Linux, the E4 uses standard Ethernet software drivers.

Designed and tested for extended temperatures (-40° to +85°C), the E4 also meets MIL-STD-202G specifications to withstand high impact and vibration. The latching LC fiber optic connector provides additional protection within harsh environments. This new product is RoHS compliant, and includes VersaLogic’s 5+ year production life guarantee. The E4 is customizable, even in low OEM quantities. Customization options include conformal coating, revision locks, custom labeling, customized testing and screening. The VL-MPEe-E4E is available from stock at both Versalogic. and Digi-Key. Pricing is $275 in OEM quantities.

Versalogic | www.versalogic.com

Category 11 LTE Supported on Full Mini PCIe Card

Telit has announced the LM940, a global Full PCI Express Mini Card (mPCIe) module for supporting LTE Advanced Category 11 (Cat 11) with speeds of up to 600 Mbps, available with various mobile network operator approvals in the fourth quarter of 2017. According to Telit it is the only enabling technology in an mPCIe form factor to support Cat 11 with the Snapdragon X12 LTE modem. The card gives system designers additional bandwidth and near instant network response times to serve applications like high definition video streaming for digital signage. The Snapdragon X12 LTE modem with LTE Advanced Telit urltechnologies provides peak download speeds of 600 Mbps.

The LM940 iallows OEMs to immediately leverage the 3x carrier aggregation and the higher order modulation of the 256 QAM capabilities currently available amongst most mobile operator networks. Combined with an exceptional power efficiency platform, the card is well suited to enable commercial and enterprise applications in the router industry, such as branch office connectivity, LTE failover, digital signage, kiosks, pop-up stores, vehicle routers, construction sites and more.

Telit | www.telit.com