NXP i.MX 8M Plus Processor Targets AI Applications with a 2.3 TOPS Neural Processing Unit

NXP has just announced its first i.MX processor with a dedicated neural processing unit (NPU) at CES 2020. The NXP i.MX 8M Plus SoC is built upon the existing i.MX 8M Nano family with a quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 processor running at up to 2GHz, an independent real-time Cortex-M7 microcontroller @ 800MHz, and a Vivante 3D GPU, but adds a 2.3 TOPS NPU to the mix.

The NPU will enable advanced machine learning inference at the industrial and IoT (Internet-of-Things) edges for applications such as people and object recognition for public safety, industrial machine vision, robotics, hand gesture, and emotion detection with natural language processing.

Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

NXP i.MX 8M Plus key features and specifications:

  • CPU – Quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 processor @ up to 2.0 GHz with 512KB ECC cache
  • Real-time MCU – Arm Cortex-M7 @ up to 800 MHz
  • GPU – Vivante GC7000UL 3D GPU, Vivante GC520L 2D GPU
  • DSP – HiFi 4 DSP for voice and natural language processing
  • AI Accelerator – 2.3 TOPS Neural Processing Unit (NPU)
  • System Memory I/F – x16/x32 LPDDR4/DDR4/DDR3L with inline ECC
  • Storage – 3x SDIO 3.0/eMMC 5.1, dual-channel Quad SPI or Octal SPI, NAND flash
  • Video Output
    • HDMI 2.0a TX with eARC support
    • 4-lane MIPI DSI
    • 4- or 8-lane LVDS Tx
  • Audio – 18x I2S TDM, S/PDIF Tx and Rx, ASRC, 8-channel PDM microphone input
  • Camera – 2x ISP (Image Signal Processors) + 2x MIPI CSI camera inputs
  • Video
    • Decoder – 1080p60  H.265, H.264, and VP8
    • Encoder – 1080p25 H.265 and H.264
  • Other Peripherals
    • 2x Gigabit Ethernet with Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN)
    • 2x USB 3.0/2.0 OTG interfaces
    • 2x CAN FD
    • 1-lane PCIe Gen 3
    • 4x UART, 5x I2C, 3x SPI, and GPIOs
  • Compatible PMIC – PCA9450C
  • Manufacturing – 14nm LPC FinFET process technology

NXP provides some specific use cases for the NPU such as the ability to handle 40,000+ English words, and MobileNet v1 model can handle image classification at over 500 images per second.

i.MX 8M Plus EVK – Click to Enlarge

There will also be an i.MX 8M Plus EVK with support for an optional 4K camera, but we have limited information since the processor is still at the pre-production stage.

NXP i.MX 8M Plus application processor is currently sampling to customers, and the company will offer a longevity commitment of 15 years. You’ll find a few more details on the product page, and if you are at CES 2020, the company will be at CP-18 booth on January 8-11.

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