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Fanless computer serves up Google Edge TPU and PoE

Feb 19, 2021 — by Jeff Child 626 views

Aaeon’s Boxer-8521AI fanless embedded computers are based on NXP’s i.MX 8M SoC with a Google Edge TPU as coprocessor. The rugged system features a PoE PD port and operating temperatures of -5°C to 50°C.

Aaeon has announced that its Boxer-8521AI system is now available on a mass market scale. The system embeds the Google Edge TPU SoM in a rugged chassis with a flexible mix of I/O. The Boxer-8521AI combines the NXP i.MX 8M SoC (quad Cortex-A53, Cortex-M4F) with the Google Edge TPU coprocessor to deliver speeds up to 4 TOPS at an energy efficient 2 TOPS per Watt, says the company. System memory is 1GB of LPDDR4x DRAM with mass storage in the form of an 8GB eMMC. The system supports ACLinux 4.0 (compatible with Debian 10). The compact box measures 175.8 x 100.0 x 39.0mm.


(click image to enlarge)

Aaeon has rolled out a steady stream of “Boxer” brand embedded computers over the years. Like several other vendors, they more recently jumped on the bandwagon of embedded systems based on Nvidia’s module Xavier NX, including Aaeon’s Boxer-8250AI and Boxer-8251AI. Google launched its own “Coral Dev Board” based on the Edge TPU device back in 2019. But embedded computers (and boards) based on Google’s Edge TPU are relatively rare compared to Jetson based products. A couple examples include some in-vehicle embedded PCs from Nexcom and a smaller version of Google’s Coral board called “Coral Dev Board Mini.” In October, Seeed began selling the Mini.

The Google Edge TPU in the Boxer-8521AI gives developers access to Google’s suite of training software, AutoML Vision Edge. The software is aimed at helping developers quickly develop and train AI models utilizing Google’s vast cloud services, and then export the model to the Boxer-8521AI and Google Edge TPU. The system supports TensorFlow Lite, a framework which allows for more efficient models, better system performance and processing speeds.

The Boxer-8521AI also features a PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) PD port. According to Aaeon, this allows the system to be deployed further away from its power source, as well as enable internet connection and remote monitoring of the system over the same single cable, reducing the complexity of installation. By using both the PoE PD port and DC-input, the system can continue operating even if one power supply is cut off.

Boxer-8521AI detailed views, front (left) and back
(click image to enlarge)

The Boxer-8521AI is built rugged, with fanless construction to keep dust and contaminants out. Aaeon says the system can operate in temperatures from -5°C to 50°C without loss in performance and it meets IEC60068-2 with 0.5 m/s airflow. Humidity rating is 95% at 40°C, non-condensing. Vibration and shock specs are random, 3.5Grm, 5~500Hz and 50G peak acceleration respectively. The system is certified to CE/FCC class A. The unit can be wall mounted and weighs 2.31 lbs. (1.05kg) (gross weight).

Boxer-8521AI dimensions
(click to enlarge image)

The I/O selection provided by the Boxer-8521AI includes 1xCOM, 1x HDMI 2.0a, 2xUSB 3.2 Gen 1 and 2xUSB 2.0 ports.

It also features a 40-pin multi-I/O port to connect to more sensors and controllers, such as cameras, temperature sensors and others.

Further Information

Aaeon says that Boxer-8521AI is available now at mass market scale. It’s listed at $500.00 (US) on Aaeon’s e-shopping site. More information can be found in the Boxer-8521AI announcement and product page.

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