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Raspberry Pi HAT combines K210 AI chip with Trust-M security

Feb 1, 2021 — by Eric Brown 2,164 views

XaLogic’s $38, open-spec “K210 AI Accelerator” HAT for the Raspberry Pi provides a Kendryte K210 SoC with 0.5-TOPS NPU for edge AI camera applications. The HAT also supplies a Trust-M security chip.

Singapore-based XaLogic has gone to Crowd Supply to fund a pHAT sized, Kendryte K210 based HAT for low-power machine vision on the Raspberry Pi. The K210 AI Accelerator HAT appears to replace a similar, but now out of stock Pi AI Hat (XAPIZ3500) board and adds a Lattice FPGA and an Infineon Trust-M security chip.

K210 AI Accelerator HAT
(click images to enlarge)

The $38 K210 AI Accelerator HAT is over halfway toward its $3,000 goal on CrowdSupply with 38 days left. The module will ship in late May. There is also a 40-pin extender for $3 that to enables connection with the Raspberry Pi 3B+ or 4B to avoid an obstruction conflict with the PoE header.

The 65 x 30mm HAT, which makes a perfect match for the Raspberry Pi Zero, is designed to work with any 40-pin Raspberry Pi equipped with an RPi camera add-on. It ships with pre-trained, mostly TensorFlow based, models for object, face, age/gender, voice, and abnormal vibration detection.


The RISC-V architecture, MCU-like Kendryte K210 SoC provides 0.5-TOPS NPU performance and can run at as low as 0.3W compared to 2W for the Coral Edge TPU and 1.5W for Intel’s Myriad X powered Neural Compute Stick 2, both of which run at about 4 TOPS. On its own, the K210 supports a stripped-down NOMMU Linux distribution but is ideally designed to run baremetal or with FreeRTOS.

XaLogic’s latest HAT can be considered a less feature-rich, but smaller and more secure, alternative to Seeed’s $28.90 Grove AI HAT, which delivers the Kendryte K210 AI processor via a Sipeed MAix M1 module. Sipeed later released a K210-equipped M1n module update, which appeared on its Sipeed MaixCube dev kit and followed up with an Allwinner V831 based MAIX-II module and MAIX-II Dock kit. (Next up is a Rockchip RV1126 based MAIX-III.)

K210 AI Accelerator HAT block diagram (left) and GPIO pinout
(click images to enlarge)

As noted by the CNXSoft post that alerted us to the K210 AI Accelerator HAT, the HAT updates the earlier model with an Infineon Optiga Trust-M security chip, which adds to the existing crypto function found on the K210. The Trust-M chip “lets you establish a secure connection to AWS through MQTT without exposing the private key,” says XaLogic. There is also a new Lattice iCE40 FPGA to accelerate the SPI connection with the Pi.

The K210 AI Accelerator HAT will ship with schematics and other open hardware resources. There is a tutorial for creating your own edge AI camera models using TensorFlow. The Kendryte KModel conversion tool supports TFLite and Caffe and offers limited support for ONNX.

Further information

The K210 AI Accelerator HAT is available on Crowd Supply through early March for $38 plus $3 if you want the 40-pin extender. Shipments are due in late May. More information may be found on the Crowd Supply page and the XaLogic website.


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