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Jetson carrier offers mmWave radar, FPD-Link, and GMSL for AI-enhanced sensor fusion

Oct 14, 2020 — by Eric Brown — 548 views

Mistral’s $139-and-up “Neuron Base Board” carrier for the Jetson Nano and Xavier NX offers GbE, HDMI 2.0, CAN, USB, M.2, and optional mmWave radar. A Turbo model adds WiFi/BT, FPD Link III, GMSL, and IMU.

Mistral, which we last heard from in February with its AM65x Industrial SoM built around Texas Instruments’ Sitara AM6548, has entered the market for carrier boards for Nvidia’s AI-enabled, Linux-driven Jetson modules. The Neuron Base Board, which supports the Jetson Nano and newer, higher-end Jetson Xavier NX, is designed for machine vision applications such as edge cameras with object detection and recognition, human activity recognition, robotics, drones, autonomous navigation, radar-camera sensor fusion, and smart retail.



Neuron Base Board Turbo with Jetson Nano and heatsink (left) and enclosed version with optional mmWave radar and camera modules
(click images to enlarge)

The Neuron Base Board offers a technology we have yet to see on a Jetson carrier or any other embedded board for that matter: mmWave radar. The technology is designed to work together with the board’s optional MIPI-CSI cameras and sensors to offer precise sensor fusion measurements in robotics, industrial, and automotive applications.

Both the Basic and Turbo models support Mistral’s optional 60GHz or 77GHz mmWave radar modules, which are based on TI’s mmWave radar sensors. First investigated by Indian physicist Jagadish Chandra Bose in 1896, the extremely high frequency, short wavelength mmWave technology operates at 30GHz and 300GHz to provide sub-mm range accuracy. The technology can penetrate heavy weather, as well as materials including, plastic, drywall, and clothing. mmWave not only detects objects but offers precise measurements of range, velocity, and angle.



Neuron Base Board Basic model without Jetson (left) and 60GHz mmWave AoPCB Module
(click images to enlarge)

On the Neuron Base Board, AI algorithms running on the Jetson GPU and CUDA libraries can combine mmWave data with camera and sensor inputs to provide local intelligence. Mistral has partnered with fellow Bangalore, India based firm Inkers to offer a Neural Development Kit that integrates algorithms based on CUDA, cuDNN, and TensorRT from Nvidia’s Ubuntu-powered Jetpack SDK. The algorithms are optimized for sensor fusion using the board’s mmWave, camera, and atttached sensors in retail analytics, security, and other AI applications. You can also load Ubuntu 18.04 “natively.”

 
FPD-Link III and GMSL

The Neuron Base Board Turbo model expands upon the base model’s 2-lane CSI interface to add a second 4-lane channel. It also provides FPD-Link III and GMSL cameras via FAKRA connectors.

The FPD-Link III advantage is the ability to connect cameras and radar sensors via coaxial cables at up to 15 meters. The more advanced, SerDes-derived GMSL technology has a similar range and supports bi-directional data, power, and control without losing latency.

We’ve seen several Jetson carriers with FPD-Link III, including Auvidea’s JN34, which has 6x FPD-Link interfaces, and D3’s DesignCore Nvidia Jetson Xavier NX 12-Camera Carrier Board, which has 12x links. Both support the Xavier NX and Nano. GMSL has popped up in E-con’s STURDeCAM20_CUXVR camera, which plugs into Nvidia’s Jetson AGX Xavier Developers Kit. Aetina’s AX710 and CTI’s Rogue carrier boards for the highest end Jetson AGX Xavier support both FPD-Link and GMSL.

 
Inside the Neuron Base Board

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Mistral’s 125 x 90mm Neuron Base Board makes use of the memories already on the Jetson modules: 4GB (Nano) or 8GB (Xavier NX) LPDDR4 plus 16GB eMMC. For additional storage, you get an M.2 M-key slot that supports SSDs including NVMe.



Neuron Base Board Turbo detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The Neuron Base Board supplies GbE, HDMI 2.0 with audio, 2x USB 2.0, and either a USB 3.0 (Nano) or USB 3.1 (Xavier NX) port. Other interfaces include an I2S audio expansion header, UART debug, and a header with I2C, I2S, SPI, GPIOs, reset, and power. There is also a CAN interface supported only by the Xavier NX.


Neuron Base Board Turbo with Xavier NX, heatsink, and fan (left) and with Nano
(click image to enlarge)

In addition to the Basic model’s 2-lane MIPI-CSI interface, which is available with an optional camera module, the Turbo model supplies 4-lane CSI, FPD Link III, and GMSL interfaces. The Turbo also adds a wireless module with 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0, as well as a 9-axis IMU sensor interface and a DMIC microphone interface.

The Neuron Base Board supplies a wide-range 12V/5A to 24V/2.5A input with optional adapters. The SBC ships operates at -20 to 85°C and provides an optional heatsink or a fan for the Xavier NX version. Optional enclosures are also available. Mistral offers optional customizations for larger orders including PoE, USB Type-C, additional PCIe, and more.

 
Further information

The Neuron Base Board is available now from $139 to $817, depending on the model, the Jetson model, and options. A Basic board with Nano and heatsink costs $283 and a Turbo with Xavier NX, heatsink, and fan goes for $772. The many options include a 60GHz mmWave AoPCB Module for $120. Shipment takes four weeks.

More information may be found in the announcement (PDF), as well as the product page and shopping page.

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