Variscite's VAR-SOM-MX93 Is a Pin2Pin-Compatible Module for High-Efficiency Edge AI Work

New board comes with two Arm Cortex-A55 cores, a real-time coprocessor, and a 0.5 TOPS neural network accelerator.

Variscite has announced a new system-on-module (SOM) designed for energy-efficient on-device machine learning at the edge, the VAR-SOM-MX93 — built around the NXP Semiconductors i.MX93 system-on-chip (SOC).

“As a company dedicated to being first to market with innovative solutions, Variscite is proud to release the VAR-SOM-MX93, which provides our customers with a high-quality, future-proof System on Module that meets the market's demand for [an] energy-efficiency platform, especially for smart devices at the edge," claims Variscite's Ofer Austerlitz of the new board. "This next generation of technology extends the coverage of Variscite solutions for the embedded market."

The SODIMM-format VAR-SOM-MX93 SOM is built around NXP's i.MX93 system-on-chip, which includes two Arm Cortex-A55 cores running at up to 1.7GHz and a Cortex-M33 real-time coprocessor running at 250MHz. An Arm Ethos-U65 micro neural processing unit (microNPU) accelerator offers 0.5 trillion operations per second (TOPS) of compute for on-device machine learning workloads, boosting performance-per-watt and freeing the main cores for other tasks.

Elsewhere on the module are 2GB of LPDDR4 memory and 64GB of eMMC storage, with Variscite hinting at lower-specifications variants in the pipeline, a PXP "2D pixel acceleration engine" for graphics output through MIPI DSI at 1920×1200p60 or parallel RGB at 1366×768p60 or 1280×800p60, two gigabit Ethernet connections, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2 with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support, five I2C, three SPI, two CAN, and four UART buses, two USB 2.0 On-The-Go (OTG) ports, and both digital and analog audio capabilities.

The new module is designed to integrate into Variscite's existing Pin2Pin family, making it a drop-in replacement for projects which used earlier i.MX6, i.MX7, and i.MX8 models. Software support, however, is still a work-in-progress: Variscite promises compatibility with Yocto Linux builds based on the Kirkstone release with kernel 5.15.71, with Debian, Boot2Qt, and FreeRTOS support "coming soon."

Variscite says the module, and an evaluation kit which includes Symphony carrier board with real-time clock and an optional LVDS touchscreen display, is available to order now price-on-application — but implies that supplies may be constrained "with priority [given] to Variscite's alpha partners and customers."

More information is available on the Variscite wiki.

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