Google's Coral Dev Board Mini Promises Full Edge TPU Machine Learning Performance for Under $100

Considerably more compact, the Coral Dev Board Mini still packs the full 4 TOPS Edge TPU accelerator and a quad-core Arm CPU.

Google's Coral division has officially opened pre-orders for the Coral Dev Board Mini, an ultra-compact single-board computer designed for on-device machine learning projects — and a cost-reduced alternative to the original Coral Dev Board.

Announced earlier this year, the Coral Dev Board Mini is designed to reduce footprint and bill-of-materials cost for edge AI projects looking for on-device machine learning acceleration. The compact SBC couples a MediaTek 8167S quad-core Arm Cortex-A35 CPU and Imagination PowerVR GE8300 GPU with Google's own Edge Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) accelerator — offering, the company claims, 4 trillion operations per second (4 TOPS) at 2 TOPS per watt.

The board also includes 8GB of eMMC storage, 2GB of LPDDR3 shared between the system-on-chip and Edge TPU coprocessor, and on-board Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. An on-board microphone is joined by a 3.5mm audio jack, two-pin speaker terminal, micro-HDMI output, MIPI CSI2 four-lane camera port, MIPI DSI four-lane display port, and a 40-pin Raspberry Pi-compatible general-purpose input/output (GPIO) header — plus two USB 2.0 Type-C connectors for power and peripherals.

Its specifications, then, are in places surprisingly higher than the full-size Coral Dev Board: The MediaTek SoC goes toe-to-toe with the NXP i.MX 8M of the original, but the Mini variant offers twice the memory — though 2GB and 4GB variants of the original Dev Board have been promised — and the same Edge TPU coprocessor. The Mini variant's wireless connectivity is stronger, but it lacks the wired gigabit Ethernet port and USB 3.0 connectivity of the full-size version.

The biggest reason to opt for the Dev Board Mini, though, is the price: At $99.99 it's $50 cheaper than the launch price and $30 cheaper than the current price of the full-size Coral Dev Board — but goes up against stiff competition, including the recently-launched NVIDIA Jetson Nano 2GB at just $59. Where the Jetson Nano will win on performance for the majority of workloads, however, the Coral Dev Board Mini wins on footprint and weight.

The board is now available to pre-order on Seeed Studio's web shop, while those looking for a US-based retailer can confirm their interest on Google's official Coral website.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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