This BeagleBone’s Got AI

There are a lot of BeagleBones, from Blue, to White, Green, Black, and we think there’s a purple one in there for some reason. The diversity of BeagleBones is due to the openness of the design, and is the biggest advantage over the ‘bone’s main competitor, the Raspberry Pi.

Now, there’s a new BeagleBone, and this time the color is AI. The BeagleBoard foundation has just unveiled the BeagleBone AI, and it is going to be the most powerful BeagleBone ever developed.

Unlike the BeagleBone Blue, Black, or the PocketBeagle, the BeagleBone AI uses the TI AM5729 processor, a dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 running at 1.5 GHz. It’s not a BeagleBone unless it has those nifty real-time programmable units, and yes, this one has four. This is the BeagleBone AI, so something else has to be different, and it comes with four Embedded Vision Engines (EVEs), a TIC66x DSP, and support for machine learning with pre-installed tools.

Of especially interesting note, this board features USB C connectors, Gigabit Ethernet, onboard WiFi, 1 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of eMMC Flash. The massive block of pin headers remains the same.

If this feature set sounds somewhat familiar to the Beagle family, you’re right. The BeagleBoard X-15 — the alpha wolf of the BeagleBone family — also comes with DSP, and Cortex-A15 cores running at 1.5 GHz. The use case for the X-15 was a little puzzling, as it was too big to really be a portable or embeddable system, but didn’t have the power of the likes of an Nvidia Jetson or what have you. The BeagleBone AI is essentially a minified version of the X-15, albeit slightly less capable in terms of RAM and Flash.

16 thoughts on “This BeagleBone’s Got AI

  1. So now the “Community” will finally build a laundry-folding robot that really works. Then the Chinese will mass produce it cheaply – and spy on our laundry. I can’t wait…

  2. And it’s shown without a heatsink, but at that speed I wonder if it’ll be able to run like that!

    The Sancloud Beaglebone Enhanced already had GigE, but this is the first of the official dot-org boards to feature it. I think it’s also the first with USB3 and USB-C connectors.

    And I’m pretty sure it boots without blobs, just like every other Beagle. That alone is cause for interest!

    1. It’s interesting that we just saw a bunch of makerboards announced in the past few days (Google Coral devboard, this board) that finally have USB3.

      Until now you had to either get an Upboard or some of the more esoteric (and hence hard to find) Allwinner variants. Most of which were fairly expensive… If they hit $100 and still have USB3 that’ll be a wonderful thing.

    2. “The Sancloud Beaglebone Enhanced already had GigE, but this is the first of the official dot-org boards to feature it. ”

      No it’s not: the X15 obviously has had GigE since 2016, and it’s a dot-org board. In terms of ‘other vendor’ boards, the OSD3358-SM-RED also had it. I have *no* idea why they didn’t at least route out the necessary signals to the footprint of a connector for the PocketBone, as rolling a PocketBone add-on for GigE would’ve been trivial if the damn signals were available.

      1. Thank you for the spot of the SM-RED! I don’t consider the X15 or the original BeagleBoard square board to be Beaglebones, since they’re not in the altoids form-factor, but I suppose I didn’t specify I was thinking of form factor.

        One thing the PocketBone gets really right is putting USB signals on the stacking connector. My kingdom for the same on a regular altoids bone!

  3. There is a lot to like about the Beaglebones. The PRU units are great if you want to do hard realtime and still be running linux. And having eMMC on board is a big win. About 1/3 of the way through the article I started wondering, what is the price (answer — around $100) and are they available yet (no idea). Also, I was hoping the A15 core might be 64 bit, but alas they are not, they are 32 bit cores like the original beaglebone. Well you do get gigabit ethernet, so that is nice.

    Now I’ll go look for a tech manual for the 5729. To my mind, this was the greatest feature of the original BBB, the 3000+ page technical manual that told me everything I wanted to know for any level of hacking I wanted to do! Cool hardware is worse than useless without good documentation.

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