Sipeed Goes for Computer Vision at the Edge with the Sophgo SG2002-Powered MaixCAM Dev Board

Available with a microSD card loaded with on-device computer vision demos, and access to a model zoo for more, the MaixCAM is in beta now.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month ago β€’ Machine Learning & AI / HW101

Embedded electronics specialist Sipeed has announced the beta launch of an all-in-one development system designed for smart camera and edge computer vision projects, built around a Sophgo SG2002 system-on-chip: the Sipeed MaixCAM.

"MaixCAM [is the] Sipeed new generation RISC-V AI [Artificial Intelligence] camera," the company says of its latest hardware design. "[It] comes with numerous built-in applications that are ready to use without programming, [and] also can be used as a UART module compatible [with] Python/C++ API [Application Programming Interface]."

To prove it, Sipeed has shown off a series of demos that come pre-loaded onto the MaixCAM's optional microSD card, brought to our attention by CNX Software. These include object classification, object detection and location, face recognition, pose estimation, trajectory tracking, optical character recognition, voice recognition, and a "self-learning detector," which it claims "instantly learns and detects any object and position on the device, no PC training required."

The chip driving the smart camera system is an unusual beast: the SG2002, along with the lower-performance SG2000, includes no fewer than four separate processor architectures. In addition to two 1GHz application-class cores, one an Arm Cortex-A53 and the other a T-Head C906 RISC-V core, the chip includes a Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) for machine learning workloads and a microcontroller core that implements Intel's 8051 architecture β€” originally launched back in 1980. If that's not enough, the chip also includes a second C906 RISC-V core for real-time use, an image signal processor with hardware H.264/H.265/MJPEG codec, and an on-board 16-bit audio codec.

To this, Sipeed has added 256MB of DDR3 memory, a 2.3" IPS touchscreen display with a 552Γ—368 resolution, an audio amplifier and on-board microphone, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.4 Low Energy (BLE) radio, a USB 2.0 Type-C connector for data and power, two 14-pin general-purpose input/output (GPIO) headers, and a four-lane MIPI Camera Serial Interface (CSI) good for up to five megapixel sensors.

For those looking to integrated the tech elsewhere, the company is also offering a "Lite" version which lacks the display β€” while all models come with a four megapixel rolling-shutter color camera sensor as standard, with one-megapixel global-shutter, thermal imaging, and depth sensing sensors available as optional extras.

All MaixCAM models are available to order on the Sipeed AliExpress store, starting at $27.90 for the Lite variant without microSD card; the company is, however, describing them as being a "beta version." Additional information is available on the Sipeed wiki.

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