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Latest Tinker boards tap RK3399Pro and Google’s i.MX8M and Edge TPU equipped Coral SOM

May 31, 2019 — by Eric Brown 5,280 views

Asus is prepping a “Tinker Edge R” SBC with an RK3399Pro, along with “Tinker Edge T” and “CR1S-CM-A” variants of Google’s i.MX8M and Edge TPU equipped Coral Dev Board. There’s also a 8th Gen Core based “PN60T” mini-PC with an Edge TPU.

At Computex this week, Asus showed off two new open-spec Tinker boards, including one of several new Asus devices that use Google’s Edge TPU (Tensor Processing Unit) AI chip. Building on the success of its Linux-ready, Rockchip RK3288-based Tinker Board Tinker Board S, Asus unveiled a Tinker Edge R Pico-ITX board with Rockchip’s NPU-enhanced RK3399Pro plus a pair of boards that riff on Google’s open-spec sandwich-style, i.MX8M and Edge TPU equipped Coral Dev Board: the Tinker Edge T and more industrial focused CR1S-CM-A. An upcoming PN60T mini-PC, meanwhile, combines the Edge TPU with an 8th Gen Kaby Lake Refresh Core CPU.

Tinker Edge R (left) and Google’s Coral Dev Board
Source: CNXSoft (Tinker Edge R)
(click images to enlarge)

The Tinker Edge T and CR1S-CM-A were briefly announced by Asus and reported on by NotebookCheck. More details and images were filled in by CNXSoft, which also scoped out the Tinker Board R. The PN60T mini-PC was revealed by Heise Online (translated).

Tinker Edge R


The Tinker Edge R adopts a larger 100 x 72mm Pico-ITX form factor than the Raspberry Pi-sized Tinker Board S or Asus’ new Coral Dev Board variants. It joins other open-spec SBCs equipped with Rockchip’s RK3399Pro including the Vamrs Toybrick RK3399Pro and upcoming Khadas Edge-1S. There’s also a Geniatech DB3399 Pro SBC. The RK3399Pro combines a hexa-core RK3399 with a 3.0-TOPS performing Neural Network Processing Unit (NPU) that supports Tensorflow, Tensorflow Lite, Caffe, and other deep learning models.

Google’s Coral SOM, front and back
(click image to enlarge)

The Tinker Edge R ships with 4GB LPDDR4 plus 2GB LPDDR3 dedicated to the NPU. The board is said to be further equipped with 16GB eMMC, a microSD slot, a GbE port, and 802.11ac with Bluetooth 4.2.

Tinker Board S

You get 4x USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, one of which is a Type-C with DisplayPort support. Other media features include an HDMI port, 2x MIPI-DSI, 2x MIPI-CSI2, and an audio jack.

There’s a 40-pin GPIO header with the same pinout as the Tinker Board, as well as a mini-PCIe slot with a nano-SIM slot that supports 4G/LTE “extended,” says CNXSoft. Other features are said to include a 12-19V input and an RTC battery header. An open source Linux kernel is on tap along with support for major AI frameworks.

While Asus experiments with Google’s Edge TPU, the PC maker is also giving other NPUs a try. Also at Computex, Asus joined Intel and Microsoft in unveiling an Asus ZenBook Pro 14 laptop loaded with an Intel Movidius Myriad X VPU and related Windows-based software in a concept product billed as the AI on PC Development Kit.

Tinker Edge T and CR1S-CM-A

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, says Asus. Additional Coral collaborations are planned for later this year.

Tinker Edge T (left) and CR1S-CM-A
Source: CNXSoft
(click images to enlarge)

Both boards incorporate the same 48 x 40mm Coral SOM module found on Google’s $150 Coral Dev Board. The module runs Debian Linux on 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 communicates with the i.MX8M via PCIe and I2C/GPIO. There’s also a crypto coprocessor, 1GB LPDDR4, and 8GB eMMC.

The sandwich-style Tinker Edge T and CR1S-CM-A incorporate the Coral SOM within the same Raspberry Pi-like, 85 x 56mm dimensions as the Tinker Board S and the Coral Dev Board. The layout is closer to Google’s board, although there are fewer real-world coastline ports, especially on the Tinker Edge T.

The Tinker Edge T is designed for AI-powered projects, such as smart-home devices, cameras, game emulators, and media servers while the CR1S-CM-A is aimed at AI solutions for business intelligence, kiosks, signage, and security applications, says Asus. Based on the Tinker branding, the Tinker Edge T is presumably open-spec, at least for the carrier board. Since no human can easily pronounce “CR1S-CM-A,” it’s possible this is a commercial design aimed at OEMs.

The Tinker Edge T is equipped with 1GB LPDDR4, 8GB eMMC, a GbE port, and 802.11ac with BT 4.1, says CNXSoft. You also get 2x USB 3.0 ports and a USB Type-C port, although without the DP support.

Asus promotes the inclusion of dual MIPI-CSI2 camera interfaces with support for stereoscopic applications. There’s also an HDMI port, a MIPI-DSI interface, and a 40-pin header with Raspberry Pi compatibility. Asus also mentions external power and reset buttons, 3x programmable LEDs, and “an optional I/O extension module and cable” with “extra audio functionality and the ability to connect with third-party peripherals.”

Fewer details were available on the industrial CR1S-CM-A variant, which mimics the general layout and feature set of the Tinker Edge T. The board is said to add PoE, SATA, an isolated terminal block for digital I/Os, and an M.2 expansion slot.

PN60T mini PC

Asus did not mention the PN60T mini-PC in its Coral-related announcement, although the system similarly includes Google’s Edge TPU. First spotted by Heise Online, the 115 x 115mm, NUC-like device is available with several Intel 8th Gen Kaby Lake Refresh chips, including a 1.8GHz/4GHz, quad-core, octa-threaded Core i7-8550U, a dual-core, quad-threaded 2.2GHz/3.4GHz Core i3-8130U, and a 1.8GHz, dual-core Celeron 3867U. The system incorporates the Edge TPU via Google’s PCIE-E Accelerator card.

PN60T (with PCIE-E Accelerator at left) and Google’s Edge TPU chip
(click images to enlarge)

The PN60T is further equipped with dual-channel DDR4 up to 32GB, and features a SATA SSD and an M.2 slot. No OS support was listed, but Linux and/or Windows are likely.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was available for the Tinker Edge R, Tinker Edge T, or CR1S-CM-A SBCs. The PN60T is expected in 4Q 2019. More information may be found in the Asus Tinker Edge T and CR1S-CM-A announcement, as well as the links farther above.

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