Antmicro's open Jetson Nano Baseboard with NVIDIA's latest production SoMs and ALVIUM cameras

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Topics: Open hardware, Open machine vision

One of the motivations behind open hardware designs at Antmicro is to showcase the newest processing technologies and provide a starting point for discussion about customized products - with different form factors, interfaces and additional software - we can build for our customers and partners. The Jetson Nano from NVIDIA is a great example of such a new technology.

An open Jetson Nano Baseboard by Antmicro

The Jetson Nano module released by NVIDIA in March brings GPU-powered edge AI to low-cost devices. For a while it was only available as part of the Jetson Nano Developer Kit, priced as low as $99.

Early adopters of NVIDIA Jetson tech since 2010, Antmicro was naturally the first to demonstrate a working carrier board for the Jetson Nano right at the premiere of NVIDIA’s SoM at GTC Silicon Valley 2019. We decided to publish the design as open source hardware on GitHub at the same time, to accelerate early projects using Jetson Nano that needed a smaller form factor and/or more camera interfaces than provided by the original devkit. This market advantage was quickly leveraged by our customers with whom we’d been able to immediately proceed into an early adoption phase and customized prototyping (e.g. adding support for Data Modul HMI screens).

To recoup, our small devboard exposes typical I/O interfaces such as:

  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • HDMI
  • DisplayPort
  • USB Host (USB-C socket)
  • USB OTG (for flashing the Jetson Nano Module)
  • Serial console over USB
  • MIPI CSI-2 (supporting 4x2 lanes or 3x4 lanes)
  • 5-36V DC power supply input

Nvidia Jetson Nano on Antmicro's baseboard with Allied Vision's Alvium cameras

Antmicro’s baseboard is only 100x55mm in size, making it an interesting platform for initial prototyping of space constrained devices. With smart vision systems in mind, it is electrically compatible with Antmicro’s camera modules and other video accessories like our dual OV5640 camera board and our dual channel HDMI/CSI converter.

The original GitHub release of Antmicro’s open Jetson Nano Baseboard sparked a lot of interest and has already resulted in a number of successful commercial designs adjusted for diverse applications, including mobile robot controllers and intelligent machine vision units. To give an example, the base design has since been customized to integrate peripheral devices such as Inertial Measurement Units and Solid State Drives. WiFi connectivity and digital audio interfaces were also integrated for some of our customers.

Updated design to accommodate Nano’s new pinout

In August 2019 NVIDIA released a production version of the Jetson Nano module - this time with on-board eMMC Flash memory, which replaced the SD card available in the previous revision. This solution is more vibration-proof and may therefore be better suited for industrial applications. The updated storage based on eMMC offers considerably faster readout speed, which is an additional benefit. The module is now available on the market for $149.

Since the new module differs also in the pinout of its SO-DIMM edge connector, we have now released an updated version of our open carrier board to fully accommodate the latest production version of the Jetson Nano modules. The design has been successfully validated in hardware - including all 4 camera interfaces. The new open hardware 1.2 release of Antmicro’s Jetson Nano Baseboard is now available on GitHub.

Support for Allied Vision’s modular Alvium cameras

Nvidia Jetson Nano on Antmicro's baseboard with Allied Vision's Alvium cameras

As a logical consequence of our partnership with Allied Vision announced in the summer, and the driver development performed by Antmicro for their cameras targeting a wide range of embedded platforms, our open Jetson Nano Baseboard now also supports Allied Vision’s state-of-the-art, modular Alvium cameras. Allied Vision’s camera modules combine high-end image sensors with a flexible Integrated Signal Processor (ISP) which transforms video footage on-the-fly into a unified output format. The color and geometry conversion features offered by Alvium make camera integration way easier than before, as a single driver targets the entire Alvium lineup.

It might be useful to know that Antmicro has also previously integrated Allied Vision’s CSI cameras with other platforms from the Jetson family such as Xavier (you may remember our GTC EU demo last year) and TX2, to offer a complete portfolio of solutions at various price and performance levels to our joint customers.

Build your next Jetson Nano device with us

Antmicro offers complex hardware design services that leverage our open hardware boards, along with dedicated BSP development further supplemented with a convenient in-cloud build environment mechanism for smooth development and maintenance of embedded software.

If you are considering Jetson Nano a potential platform for your next project, we are always happy to discuss new use cases: contact@antmicro.com.

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