Sipeed Unveils New MAIX M1s and M0sense Boards for RISC-V-Powered TinyML and Edge AI Projects

Built using Bouffalo Labs' latest RISC-V parts, this module and dev board pairing aim to simplify tinyML and edge AI projects.

Sipeed has unveiled two new RISC-V development boards targeting artificial intelligence at the edge and tinyML projects: the Sipeed MAIX M1s and M0sense.

"We have [the] M1 (K210) [from] several years ago," Sipeed writes of its latest launch. "Why [did] we make new AIoT [Artificial Intelligence of Things] hardware? [The] K210 is [one of the] first RV64 AI chips, [and has] many limits (RAM/OPS/Resolving/Peripheral). [The Espressif] ESP32-S3 is the typical IoT chip, but limited in CPU/AI/RAM. [The] M1s [is] based on newest [Bouffalo Lab] BL808, combin[ing] advantage of AI and IoT chips, but still keep the same price — it is the sweet spot of AIoT hardware!"

Sipeed has announced its latest edge AI devices, both based on RISC-V cores: The MAIX M1s and M0sense. (📹: Sipeed)

The Sipeed M1s, the larger of the company's two new modules, is built around the Bouffalo Lab BL808, a triple-core RISC-V system-on-chip, which includes a 480MHz 64-bit RISC-V core, a 320MHz 32-bit RISC-V core, and a 160Mhz 32-bit RISC-V core aimed at real-time and monitoring tasks. There's 758kB of static RAM (SRAM) on the board, plus 64MB of pseudo-static RAM (PSRAM), along with 16MB of flash storage.

In addition to the main cores, the chip includes a neural processing unit (NPU) designed to accelerate deep-learning and edge AI workloads and offering, the company claims, 100 giga-operations per second (GOPS) of compute performance — somewhat below the 230 GOPS of the Kendryte K210 used for the Sipeed M1, but with Sipeed claiming it handles a broader selection of operations with fewer limitations than its predecessor.

Elsewhere on the board is support for MIPI and DVP cameras at up to 1080p resolution, SPI and RGB connections for external displays, I2S and analog audio support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), and Zigbee radios, and USB 2.0 On-The-Go (OTG) support. Additional acceleration hardware is provided for motion JPEG (MJPEG), G2D, H.264, and OSD workloads, while available general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins on the board provide UART, I2C, SPI, SDOI, Ethernet, and analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion (ADC and DAC).

An optional carrier board, the M1s Dock, provides breadboard-friendly pin headers for GPIO connectivity, an on-board 1.69" 280×240 display with capacitive touch support, an analog MEMS microphone, and a two-megapixel OV2685 camera module with LED flash. For those looking for something a little smaller, meanwhile, Sipeed offers the MAIX M0sense — which uses the 32-bit Bouffalo BL702 running at 144Mhz and with 132kB of static RAM, 512kB of flash, and BLE but no Wi-Fi, and includes an on-board microphone, inertial measurement unit (IMU), and optional 0.96" display.

Sipeed is planning to sell the boards at just $6 for the M1s and $4 for the M0sense — but at the time of writing was making the parts available exclusively through Indiegogo in bundles, starting at $19 for five M0sense boards, $22 for an M1s with Dock, case, and display, or $27 for the M1s bundle plus an M0sense with LCD, with multiple bundles available at higher tiers.

All hardware is expected to be delivered this month, though Indiegogo warns that it has only seen "a working demo" rather than the finished products.

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