NXP Begins Sampling of NPU-Equipped i.MX 8M Plus, Designed for an "Intelligent Edge"

With four Arm Cortex-A53 cores, a real-time subsystem, and 2.3 TOPS of machine learning throughput on an NPU, the i.MX 8M Plus is a beast.

NXP is positioning the low-power part as ideal for "intelligent edge" devices. (📷: NXP)

NXP has announced the latest entry in its popular i.MX family of systems-on-chips, the i.MX 8M Plus with on-board high-performance 2.3 tera-operations per second (TOPS) neural processing unit (NPU) co-processor.

"The edge is the perfect destination to deploy machine learning applications, especially as technology advancements are enabling accurate localized decision-making," explains Martyn Humphries, vice president and general manager of i.MX application processors for consumer and industrial markets at NXP. "With the i.MX 8M Plus we are enabling leading companies to transform the 'smart' edge to an 'intelligent' edge in the consumer and industrial IoT marketplace, and we look forward with great excitement to the innovative products they will be introducing based on this new trendsetting solution."

NXP's solution for bringing intelligence to the edge: The i.MX 8M Plus, a 14nm part which includes four 2GHz Arm Cortex-A53 central processing cores with a high-performance neural processing unit (NPU) designed to boost machine learning throughput to 2.3 TOPS in a low power envelope — translating to a performance of around 500 images per second for the MobileNet v1 image classification network.

The new part also includes a separate real-time subsystem based around an 800MHz Arm Cortex-A7 core, a 3D GPU, and a vision pipeline which includes two integrated image signal processors (ISPs) supporting real-time stereo or a single 12 megapixel camera input with high dynamic range (HDR) and fisheye lens correction support. Voice input is handled by pre- and post-processing, with wake-word detection implemented on the low-power Cortex-M core, while the multimedia and video processing subsystem includes H.265 or H.264 hardware acceleration for encode and decode. There's also integrated gigabit Ethernet with time-sensitive networking (TSN) support.

NXP has indicated that the i.MX 8M Plus should be rated at an industrial temperature range of -40°C to 105°C (around -40°F to 221°F), though this isn't yet finalised, and will have a 15-year longevity guarantee. The company is sampling the part to select customers now, but has not yet offered a formal launch date for general availability.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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