Connect Tech’s “Astro” carrier board integrates Nvidia’s Linux- and Tegra X1-driven Jetson TX1 COM. It also drives a rugged “Rosie” embedded computer.
Guelph, Ontario based Connect Tech offers a wide variety of Linux-ready carrier boards, SBCs, COMs. In addition to detailing the new Astro carrier board and Rosie computer, we’ve briefly summarized two of the company’s other recent SBCs farther below.
The Astro carrier expands upon Nvidia’s Jetson TX1 computer-on-module, which launched last November to showcase the Nvidia Tegra X1 system-on-chip. The Tegra X1 combines four Cortex-A57 cores with four Cortex-A53 cores, but the standout firepower here comes from the 256 Maxwell GPU cores. The Jetson TX1 can generate 1 teraflop of performance, drive 4K 60Hz video decode and 4K 30Hz encode, and handle six camera inputs at up to 1400 megapixels per second, says Nvidia.
Nvidia Jetson TX1 and its companion heatsink
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Nvidia launched the Tegra X1 primarily for autonomous and semi-autonomous cars, but it’s suitable for any application that requires high-end graphics processing, parallel processing, and deep computer learning. The Maxwell GPU is exploited by Nvidia’s CUDA 7.0 graphics libraries, which include:
- cuDNN — library for machine learning training and inference, compatible with frameworks like Caffe, Theano, and Torch
- VisionWorks — library and framework for computer vision based on OpenVX 1.0.1 with other Nvidia extensions
- Drivers and APIs — support for OpenGL 4.5, OpenGL ES 3.1, and Vulkan, and more
The 87 x 50mm Jetson TX1 module, which ships with an Ubuntu Linux SDK, is equipped with 4GB LPDDR4, 16GB eMMC flash, and WiFi-ac and Bluetooth. There’s also a GbE controller and a 400-pin expansion connector, which normally goes to the carrier board that ships with the $599 Jetson TX1 Development Kit, but in this case is joined to the Astro carrier board.
Astro carrier board
Unlike Nvidia’s large Jetson dev board, the 87 x 57mm Astro carrier is only slightly bigger than the TX1 module. The board features a 90-pin QSH Samtec connector designed to accept Connect Tech’s off-the-shelf or custom breakout boards. As a default, the Astro is sold with an XBG201 breakout board, separated by pre-attached stand-offs, which offers all the I/O ports listed for the Astro.
Astro carrier (left) and Astro sandwiched between Jetson TX1 on bottom and included XBG201 breakout board on top
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The Astro provides dual GbE ports, an HDMI port, eight U.FL video input connectors, and three CSI-2 camera inputs. The board is further equipped with a USB 2.0 port, dual USB 2.0 ports, an HD audio output, and various serial and GPIO interfaces. There’s also a mini-PCIe slot and an mSATA connector. The Astro is notable for its -40 to 85°C industrial temperature support.
Specifications listed for the Astro carrier with standard XBG201 breakout, include:
- Processor (via Jetson TX1 COM) Nvidia Tegra X1:
- 4x Cortex-A57 cores
- 256x Nvidia Maxwell/CUDA cores
- 4K 60Hz video decode, 4K 30Hz encode
- Memory (via Jetson TX1 COM) — 4GB LPDDR4 RAM (25.6 GB/s); 16GB eMMC 5.1 flash
- Wireless (via Jetson TX1 COM) — 802.11ac; Bluetooth
- Networking — 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports (1x from Jetson, 1x from Intel 82574 controller)
- HDMI port
- 8x U.FL video input connectors with GSML support
- 3x CSI-2 (camera) video inputs (2x via U.FL connectors)
- HD audio output
- Other I/O:
- USB 3.0 port
- 2x USB 2.0 ports
- 2x RS-232/422/485 ports (hardware selectable)
- 4-bit GPIO
- I2C, system, RTC battery input
- 90-pin QSH Samtec expansion connector for Connect Tech breakouts
- Expansion — Mini-PCIe half- or full-size slot with USB signaling; mSATA half-size storage slot
- Operating temperature — -40 to 85°C
- Dimensions — 2x boards, each 87 x 57mm
- Astro carrier — 46 g with stand-offs
- XBG201 breakout — 51 g
- Jetson TX1 — 75 g (144 g w/heatsink)
- Operating system (via Jetson TX1 COM) – Nvidia’s Ubuntu-based Linux SDK
Rosie, the rugged mini-PC
The Jetson TX1 driven Astro carrier is also available inside Connect Tech’s ruggedized Rosie embedded computer. The 1.32-kilo, 163.6 x 108.0 x 96.3mm Rosie expands upon the Astro’s industrial temperature support with IP67/68 ingress protection. It also complies with MIL-STD 810g and DO-160G standards for shock and vibration resistance, says Connect Tech.
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The computer provides a wide-range 9-36V power supply suitable for transportation applications. Mounting brackets are available along with custom face plates.
The Rosie exposes the Astro’s two GbE ports, as well as two USB 2.0 ports and the HDMI port. Four SMA style coaxial video inputs give you a choice of Parallel or MIPI-CSI-2 camera inputs, and an RS-232 port is provided with built-in modem (TX/RX/RTS/CTS). The Jetson TX1’s memory, flash, WiFi-ac, and Bluetooth 4.0 features are also available.
Some other Connect Tech boards
Connect Tech has built up an impressive lineup of COMs, carriers, SBCs, and embedded systems over the years, many of which run Linux. Digging into the LinuxDevices archives, you can find plenty of Linux-ready Connect Tech devices dating back to the circa-2005, uClinux based Blue/Heat Net intelligent Ethernet-to-serial interface adapter.
More recent products have included the COM Express Ultra Lite Carrier Board. The board was paired with an Intel “Haswell” based Adlink Express-HL COM Express to drive Cornell University’s Gemini Autonomous Underwater Vehicle.
Here’s a quick look at the ArcticEdge/iMX6 and TrailBlazer — two fairly recent SBCs that escaped our notice — with links pointing to product pages:
- ArcticEdge/iMX6 — The ArcticEdge builds upon the automotive-optimized, quad-core NXP/Freescale i.MX6Q SoC with industrial temperature support and Linux- or Android BSPs. The 100 x 72mm Pico-ITX board ships with 1-2GB of DDR3, dual microSD slots, a GbE port, and integrated WiFi and Bluetooth. A USB OTG port is available along with four USB host ports, two of which are on the coastline. Other features include an HDMI port, LVDS interface, dual serial ports, and an audio output.
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- TrailBlazer — No OS support is listed for the Bay Trail Intel Atom based TrailBlazer, but we’re fairly certain it runs Linux. The 146 x 131.7mm board backs up a range of Atom E38xx SoCs with 2GB RAM, 4GB eMMC flash, and a microSD slot. You get dual GbE, dual SATA/mSATA, and dual mini-PCIe interfaces, as well as DisplayPort and LVDS connections. There are five USB ports, HD audio I/O, five serial ports, and dual CAN ports. The board features -40 to 85°C support and a 12-36V wide-range power supply.
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