Google Unveils New and Updated Coral Hardware for 2020January 13, 2020 by Cabe Atwell
During CES 2020, Google announced new hardware editions and upgrades to the Coral ecosystem, including an Accelerator Module, the Dev Board Mini, and a System-on-Module.
Back in March of 2019, Google launched Coral, a series of hardware components and software tools designed to advance AI development at the edge. The platform stayed in Beta form in select countries until graduating to a wider rollout in October.
During this year’s CES 2020, however, Google announced new hardware editions to the Coral ecosystem, along with an upgrade to existing technology.
In a recent blog post, Google stated, “Since our release, we’ve been excited by the diverse range of applications already built on Coral across a broad set of industries that range from healthcare to agriculture to smart cities. And for 2020, we’re excited to announce new additions to the Coral platform that will expand the possibilities even further.”
The first entry in new additions to Coral hardware comes in the form of a solderable multi-chip module, which includes Google’s custom-designed Edge TPU (Tensorflow Processing Unit) and PMIC.
The Accelerator Module offers PCIe Gen 2 or a USB 2.0 serial interface based on customer requirements and features an SMT 120-pin LGA that can be integrated into custom PCB designs. Google claims that the module is capable of performing 4-trillion operations per second (TOPS) while consuming just 0.5 watts for each TOP.
The Coral Accelerator Module features Google’s Edge TPU and PMIC, which are capable of performing 4-trillion operations (TOPS) per second. Image used courtesy of Google
Google’s Edge TPU can run multiple computer vision models at 30fps or single models, such as MobileNet V2, at 400fps in a power-efficient manner.
Google states they have been working closely with Murata to manufacture the Coral Accelerator Module, which the company states will be available sometime in the first half of 2020.
Dev Board Mini
Next up on the new hardware list is Google’s Coral Dev Board Mini, which, compared to the company's original development board, is smaller, more power-efficient, and less expensive. The Dev Board Mini is an SBC (Single Board Computer) that is outfitted with MediaTek’s 8167S SoC and packs a quad-core Arm Cortex-A35 processor and an Imagination Technologies' PowerVR GE8300 GPU.
It also features 2Gb of DDR3L memory, 8Gb of eMMC, and is paired with Google’s Edge TPU coprocessor.
The Coral Dev Board Mini is outfitted with a MediaTek 8167S SoC, an IMG PowerVR GE8300 GPU, and an Edge TPU coprocessor. Image used courtesy of Google
The Dev Board Mini includes Wi-Fi 5 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac) and Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless communications and comes equipped with a 3.5mm audio jack, digital PDM microphone, micro HDMI port, MIPI CS12 camera connector, and MIPI DSI display connector.
The development board is also outfitted with a 40-pin header and a pair of USB Type-C ports for expansion, power, and programming. Google claims the Dev Board Mini is tuned to support 720p video encoding/decoding and is highly suited for computer vision applications.
Like the Coral Accelerator Module, Google states the Coral Dev Board Mini will become available in the first half of 2020.
Rounding-out Google’s latest hardware announcement is an upgraded version of the company’s Coral SoM (System on Module)—a Linux-based machine learning platform designed for a number of applications, including integration into smart cities, manufacturing, and healthcare.
The SoM features NXP’s i.MX 8M SoC with quad-core Arm Cortex-A53/Cortex-M4F and a GC7000 Lite GPU, 8Gb of eMMC. It also includes 1Gb of LPDDR4 RAM, which has now been upgraded with 2Gb or 4Gb options.
Google’s System on Module (SoM) is now available with more RAM, including 2Gb and 4Gb of LPDDR4, over the original 1Gb offered when the SoM debuted. Image used courtesy of Google
Of course, the Coral SoM features Google’s Edge TPU for machine learning applications and is outfitted with 802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz) Wi-Fi MIMO and Bluetooth 4.2 for wireless communications. There is no word yet on when the new upgraded RAM versions of the Coral SoM will become available or at what price-point, but it might coincide with the other new platforms expected in the first half of this year.
Google has also announced that Asus has chosen the company’s Coral SoM for integration into their Tinker Edge T SBC, which packs NXP’s i.MX 8M SoC, and a number of I/Os, multiple camera connectors, programmable LEDs, and more.
Expanding Google's Coral Ecosystem
The new hardware devices will add to Google’s growing Coral ecosystem, which also includes a USB Accelerator, an accessory that packs an Edge TPU, bringing machine learning capabilities to platforms such as the Raspberry Pi. It also features other Linux-based systems using USB Type-C connection.
Google also offers a Mini PCIe Accelerator board for integrating the Edge TPU into existing Debian-based systems as well as an M.2 Accelerator A+E Key and M.2 Accelerator B+E Key, also for Edge TPU applications within existing systems.
Google also provides add-ons for their Coral product line, including a MIPI-CSI 5-megapixel camera designed for use with the Coral Dev Board, and an Environmental Sensor Board (temperature, light, humidity) with 40-pin header that connects other boards to the Cloud IoT Core. The new year is looking bright with the expansion of Google’s Coral platform, and it will be interesting to see what the company does next with its Edge TPU.