MAIX-II A AI camera board combines Allwinner R329 smart audio processor with USB-C camera

Earlier this year, we wrote about  Sipeed MAIX-II Dock AIoT vision devkit with an Allwinner V831 camera processor with a small 200 MOPS NPU, an Omnivision SP2305 2MP camera sensor, and a 1.3-inch display.

But for some reason, which could be supply issues, Sipeed has designed a much different variant called MAIX-II A with a board based on Allwinner R329 smart audio processor, a 720p30 USB camera module, and a 1.5-inch display.

MAIX-II A R329 processor USB camera

MAIX-II A board specifications:

  • Main M.2 module – Maix-II A module with Allwinner R329 dual-core Cortex-A53 processor @ 1.5 GHz, 256MB DDR3 on-chip, a dual-core HIFI4 DSP @ 400 MHz, and Arm China AIPU AI accelerator for up to 256 MOPS, plus Wi-Fi & BLE and a footprint for an SPI Flash.
  • Storage – MicroSD card socket
  • Display – 1.5-inch LCD display with 240×240 resolution
  • Audio – Dual microphones, 3W speakers
  • Camera – 720p USB-C camera module based on OV9732 sensor
  • Video – H.264/H.265/JPEG 720p30 hardware video encoder
  • Connectivity
    • Realtek RTL8723DS for WiFI 4 and Bluetooth LE On M.2 module
    • 24-pin FPC connector on M.2 module for Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB – 2x USB-C ports one OTG port, and for debugging (USB to TLL)
  • Expansion
    • 2.54mm pitch 20-pin header + 10-pin header with 11 GPIOs, up to 3x I2C, IR receiver pin, 2x I2S, 2x SPI, Gigabit Ethernet, 4 ADC, 5x UART
    • 4-pin Grove connector (UART)
  • Misc – Reset button, 4x user buttons, 1x FEL button to flash the firmware
  • Power Supply – 5V
MAIX-II A Block Diagram
MAIX-II A Block Diagram
RK329 AI Camera Board pinout diagram
MAIX-II A pinout diagram

On the software side, the board supports the official Allwinner Tina Linux SDK based on OpenWrt 14.07, but an Arm Debian image will also be offered. The board will also come with the AIPU Builder supporting Tensorflow Lite and other AI frameworks compatible with the ONNX file format.

I do not understand where the H.265/H.264/JPEG video encoder is, as Allwinner R329 does not embed such a video encoder, and as I understand it OV9732 module outputs raw video data. So maybe it’s handled by the DSP or AI accelerator inside the Allwinner SoC. [Update: I’ve been informed it was just a copy/paste error, and  there’s no video encoder]

Sipeed should eventually release the information in English via Twitter and/or other sources, but right now the only information I have is only in Chinese.

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15 Comments
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TJ Snider
TJ Snider
3 months ago

Just how much RAM does that really have? The block diagram says 256MB DDR… but the various spec sheets for the R329 talk about 64 or 128MB?

Tim Snider
Tim Snider
3 months ago

I’ll also note that various of the Allwinner documentation seems a bit confused about what processor is in the R329… The text says it has dual Cortex-A53, whereas the diagrams show “ARM Cortex-A7 ×2″… Sounds like Allwinner really needs to review their documentation and graphical assets.. https://www.allwinnertech.com/uploads/pdf/2021020419441232.pdf

Jon Smirl
3 months ago

There are two dies inside the package. Allwinner can include different DRAM dies to change the storage amount. I don’t have data on which options are available.

Jon Smirl
3 months ago

There is a simple fix for the missing h.264 encoder. Switch USB cameras. Here’s one with an h.264 encoder included for $8.44: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000936541045.html

These work by sending two streams over USB – MJPEG and h.264. That lets you easily display and process the images (using R329 AI) in the MJPEG stream. Then you send the h.264 stream onto the final destination without ever decoding it.

Sipeed people can likely shop around and find a better camera choice.

Marcin Dąbrowski
3 months ago

I wonder if one could buy just that m.2 module alone? That could be great.

zepan
zepan
3 months ago

yes, the core board called M2A, with R329+wifi module on it

Marcin Dąbrowski
3 months ago

That’s great, now I wonder if it can be ordered without wi-fi, because I don’t need that either and desoldering it looks like a pain.

Vincent
3 months ago

Hi Zepan, great to see that you’re behind this project. The V3S in the Leechi Pi helped us a lot with the FunKey S, this new board and the R329 seem like the perfect next step.

Where could we buy both the M2 module and the daughter board as soon as possible, so that we can get working?

Any taobao link maybe, I couldn’t find anything yet on Sipeed.

Jon Smirl
3 months ago

Does anyone have the R329 datasheet? I downloaded all of the ‘open source’ R329 stuff and there is complete build environment but no datasheet. I want to see details of I2S support.

Icenowy Zheng
Icenowy Zheng
2 months ago

Well it’s available on the same site (open.allwinnertech.com), but I doubt whether this site is properly i18ned.

Jon Smirl
2 months ago

It is there now, I just downloaded it.

Marcin Dąbrowski
2 months ago

Hold up, 256MB? I’m pretty sure top DRAM option was 1Gbit (128MB), has something changed for the better without any mention?

Jon Smirl
2 months ago

The R329 is available in two pin compatible versions – 128MB or 256MB. It is up to Sipeed to pick which one they use.

Marcin Dąbrowski
1 month ago

I’ve seen mentions of 64MB and 128MB dies more than 256MB.

Do you know if there is a possibility of sampling just the chip from Allwinner or someone close?

Jon Smirl
1 month ago

I don’t see any obvious listings of bare chips for sale that are easy for foreigners to access. Send the Sipeed people an email, they’ll likely sell you some. It is not that R329 is particularly hard to get, there is no demand for it form foreigners so no one has any up for sale.

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