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Asus launches Coral-based Tinker Edge T SBC for $168

Jan 27, 2020 — by Eric Brown 3,236 views

Asus has launched a $168 “Tinker Edge T” SBC that runs Linux on the same Coral SOM module found on Google’s Coral Dev Board, equipped with an i.MX8M and an Edge TPU. The SBC advances to 3x USB ports and offers a second CSI port and a 12-19V input.

Asus has begun selling its Tinker Edge T SBC after previewing the board along with a similar CR1S-CM-A industrial board and RK3399Pro based Tinker Edge R SBC back at Computex in late May. The Tinker Edge T variant of Google’s $150 Coral Dev Board has a similar, Raspberry Pi like layout and uses the same Coral SOM, which combines a quad-core NXP i.MX8M with Google’s Edge TPU AI chip.

Tinker Edge T, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Asus did not mention pricing in its new announcement but lists more specs than it did in May. As reported by NotebookCheck, the Tinker Edge T is available for about $200 at Japanese retailer Physical Computing, and we now see it selling for $198 at Connection and only $168.35 at Provantage, which calls the price an 11 percent discount off the manufacturer list price of $190.

Like Asus’ Rockchip RK3288-based Tinker Board S, this appears to be an open-spec board. There’s a community site with a forum, although hardware and software files have yet to be posted.

Tinker Edge T side views
(click images to enlarge)

The Tinker Edge T offers 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 ports plus a USB Type-C OTG port with both power and peripheral support. It also supplies dual 4-lane, MIPI-CSI2 interfaces compared to one on Google’s SBC.


Coral Dev Board

On the other hand, the Tinker Edge T appears to lack the Coral Dev Board’s audio features, including the 3.5mm audio jack, 2x digital PDM mics, and stereo speaker header.

Asus touts the board for its “advanced power design,” which delivers up to 45 watts of power and protections against current and voltage changes. Unlike the Coral Dev board, there’s a wide-range 12-19V input in addition to 5V Type-C power.

Otherwise, the features of the two boards are similar. Other common features include GbE and HDMI ports, MIPI-DSI, and a microSD slot.

The SBC’s 48 x 40mm Coral SOM module is equipped with the quad-core version of NXP’s up to 1.5GHz Cortex-A53 i.MX8M, which also includes a Vivante GC7000Lite GPU and VPU and a 266MHz Cortex-M4 MCU. The Coral SOM adds the Edge TPU chip, which offers 4-TOPS AI processing using 0.5 watts per TOPs, or as Google puts it, “2 TOPS per watt.”

Optimized to run TensorFlow Lite ML models, the Edge TPU communicates with the i.MX8M via PCIe and I2C/GPIO. The Coral SOM also supplies a crypto coprocessor, dual PMICs, 1GB LPDDR4, 8GB eMMC, and a wireless module with 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.1.

Coral Dev Board Mini

The Tinker Edge T runs Google’s Mendel, an Edge TPU optimized version of Debian Linux. Asus also mentions the Tinker Edge T’s programmable LEDs and a flash tool for cross-platform OSes “that allows easy flashing of operating system images on SD cards and USB drives.”

In addition, Asus will offer an “intuitive enhanced OS interface” later this month with shortcuts that “provide quick, convenient access to commonly user functions.” Presumably, this wraps around Mendel.

Mendel also runs on Google’s recently announced, but not yet available Coral Dev Board Mini. The Mini SBC does not use the Coral SOM, but instead directly incorporates a less powerful MediaTek 8167s SoC along with a separately integrated Edge TPU. It’s unclear whether it uses the solderable, LGA form-factor Coral Accelerator Module that was announced with the Coral Dev Board Mini.

The Tinker Edge T and CR1S-CM-A boards are the offspring of a partnership between Asus’ new AIoT business unit and the Google Coral business unit. Additional Coral collaborations are in the works. We have yet to see anything new on the CR1S-CM-A or the RK3399Pro based Tinker Edge R.

Specifications listed for the Tinker Edge T include:

  • Processor (via Coral SOM) — NXP i.MX8M (4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.5GHz); Vivante GC7000Lite/GC7000VLX for OpenGL/ES 3.1, OpenGL 3.0, Vulkan, OpenCL 1.2 GPU; Cortex-M4 @ 266MHz; separate Edge TPU Accelerator and crypto coprocessor
  • Memory/storage:
    • 1GB LPDDR4 RAM (via Coral SOM)
    • 8GB eMMC flash (via Coral SOM)
    • MicroSD slot
  • Wireless (via Coral SOM) — 802.11 b/g/n/ac 2×2 MIMO and Bluetooth 4.1 BLE
  • Networking — GbE port
  • Media I/O:
    • HDMI port with 4K, CEC
    • MIPI-DSI (4-lane)
    • 2x MIPI-CSI2 (4-lane)
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 host ports
    • USB 3.2 Gen1 Type C OTG port
  • Expansion — 40-pin, color-coded GPIO connector (up to 28x GPIO, 2x I2C, 2x UART, 3x PWM, SPI, PCM/I2S, 2x 5V, 2x 3.3V, 8x ground, start-mode switch, 2-pole reset head, 2-pin DC fan head)
  • Other features — Programmable LEDs; heatsink
  • Power — 12-19V DC input plus USB Type-C; voltage protections; 2x PMICs via Coral SOM
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 50°C
  • Dimensions — 85 x 56mm
  • Operating system – Debian-based Mendel Linux

Further information

The Tinker Edge T is available for $168.35 at Provantage. It sells for about $200 at Japanese retailer Physical Computing, and it is currently out of stock for $198 at Connection.

More information may be found in Asus’ announcement and still rather barebones product page, and forum.

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2 responses to “Asus launches Coral-based Tinker Edge T SBC for $168”

  1. Kevin Espinoza says:

    The Asus Tinker Edge T only supports [USB 3.2 gen 1/USB 3.1 gen 1/USB 3.0] SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps. The two USB Type-A ports are connected to a GL3523 USB 3.1 Gen 1 hub controller and while it utilizes an IT5201 USB 3.1 Gen 2 (capable of 10Gbps) 2:1 passive mux to enable the USB Type-C OTG port both of these ICs are connected to the Coral SOM which only supports two lanes of SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps.

    Another note on audio: the 40-pin GPIO header is not initialized for I2S. It is connected to the Coral SOM SAI1 (Synchronous Audio Anterface) which supports protocols including I2S, Codec/DSP, TDM, and AC97. However, configuring SAI1 as I2S on either the Asus or Google dev boards seems to be a nontrivial task and I have yet to find good documentation or a driver for this purpose.

  2. Jeff Child says:

    Thanks Kevin.
    We have updated the story along those lines.

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