Beaglebone AI – The most powerful SBC

Introduction

Beaglebone AI, which has the capabilities of industrial computers with the form factor of a small single-board computer or SBC. Beaglebone Ai is built on the Linux open-source methodology which eventually has been proven successful at BeagleBoard.org. 

Due to the basis of the Texas Instruments AM5729, the developers of various projects can now take advantage of the strong SoC (System On Chip) with the ease of having the advantages of the Beaglebone Ai header as well as the mechanical compatibility. 

Another thing which is made easy after Beaglebone AI enters the market is that it makes it easier to explore the potential uses of artificial intelligence (AI) in everyday life by using the TI C66x DSP (digital signal processor) and EVE (embedded vision engine) which are supported by an enhanced TIDL ( Texas Instruments Deep Learning) machine learning OpenCL API and pre-installed tools. 

Beaglebone AI is focused on common automation for usage in industrial, commercial, and home applications. That is all in the introduction of the Beaglebone Ai, let us now have a look at the features of the Beaglebone Ai:

Board components of Beaglebone Ai

  1. Processor The Beaglebone Ai comes with a compact yet powerful processor which is AM5729 dual-core Cortex-A15 SoC which runs at 1.5 GHz. This processor makes Beaglebone Ai more efficient. 
  1. Memory The Beaglebone Ai board comes with 1 GB of DDR3L RAM(Random Access Memory). It consists of 16 GB of eMMC or embedded Multi-Media Card storage for operating systems and storage of data.
  1. Gigabit EthernetBeaglebone Ai board comes with an in-built Gigabit ethernet (10/100/1000M) for network connectivity. 
  1. Wi-FiBeaglebone Ai comes with in-built Dual-Band Wi-Fi for network connectivity.
  1. Bluetooth –  Beaglebone Ai comes with built-in Bluetooth 4.2 for network connectivity. 
  1. USB There are two USB ports available on the Beaglebone AI board. These two USB ports are USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. These ports are used for connecting to a computer, adding peripherals, and for powering the board respectively.
  1. MicroHDMI There is a micro HDMI port available on the board for connecting to the display.
  1. MicroSD Card Slot For the need of additional storage and for the purpose of booting the operating system there is a Micro SD card slot available on the Beaglebone AI board.
  1. Power Input For powering up the board a barrel jack(5V) is available on the board.
  1. Reset Button There is a RESET button available on the board for resetting the board.
  1. User LEDs Five onboard LEDs that can be controlled by software.
  1. Boot buttonThere is a boot button available on the board for booting the board.

Board Specification of Beaglebone Ai

The board specifications of the Beaglebone Ai are as follows:

BeagleBone AI
System on Chip Main ProcessorTexas Instruments Sitara AM5729
2x ARM Cortex-A15
Maximum Main Processor Speed1.5GHz
Co-processors2xC66x, 4xPRU, 4xARM Cortex-M4, 4xEVE, 2xPowerVR SGX544, IVA-HD
Analog Pins7 (4-wire touch screen capable) (3.3V)
Digital Pins72 (including 7 analog pins which are digital capable)
Memory1GB DDR316GB eMMC flash on-board
microSD card slot
USBUSB 3.0 Type-C 5Gbps Host/Client PortUSB 2.0 Type-A Host Port
Network1 Gigabit Ethernet
2.4/5GHz WiFiBluetooth 4.2/BLE
VideomicroHDMICape add-on boards
AudiomicroHDMIcape/USB add-onsBluetooth
Supported Expansion Interfaces4x UART 16-bit LCD interface 2x I2C 2x SPI 8x PWM 4x Timer A/D(3.3v)CANPulse CaptureQuadrature EncoderPRU GPIOPRU UARTPRU Pulse Capture
On-board SensorsOn-die processor temperature sensors
Dimension3.4” x 2.1”
Weight55 g  

That is all in the board specification of the Beaglebone Ai, let us now have a look at the pinout of the Beaglebone AI.

Pinout of Beaglebone Ai

The pinout of Beaglebone AI is as follows

                                P9                                P8
DGND12DGNDDGND12DGND
VDD 3V334VDD 3V3GPIO 3834GPIO 39
VDD 5V56VDD 5VGPIO 3456GPIO 35
SYS 5V78SYS 5VGPIO_6678GPIO_67
PWR_BUT910SYS RESETINGPIO_69910GPIO_68
UART4_RXD1112GPIO_60GPIO_451112GPIO_44
UART4_TXD1314GPIO 40GPIO 231314GPIO_26
GPIO_481516GPIO 51GPIO_471516GPIO_46
SPIO_CSO1718SPIO_D1GPIO_271718GPIO_65
I2C2_SCl192012C2_SDAGPIO 221920GPIO 63
SPIO_DO2122SPIO SCLKGPIO 622122GPIO 37
DPIO_492324UART1_TXDGPIO 362324GPIO 33
GPIO_1172526UART1_RXDGPIO 322526GPIO_61
GPIO_1152728SPI1CSOGPIO 862728GPIO 88
SP11_DO2930GPIO_112GPIO 872930GPIO 89
SP11_SCLK3132VDD ADCGPIO 103132GPIO 11
AIN43334GNDA ADCGPIO 93334GPIO 81
AIN63536AIN 5GPIO 83536GPIO 80
AIN23738AIN 3GPIO 783738GPIO 79
AIN03940AIN 1GPIO 763940GPIO 77
GPIO 204142GPIO 7GPIO 744142GPIO 75
DGND4344DGNDGPIO 724344GPIO 73
DGND4546DGNDGPIO 704546GPIO 71

Power Input 

Beaglebone Ai has two ways to get power inputs which are using a DC power jack input port and USB. The power ratings of both of the ports are different.

Power Output 

The power output pins of the Beaglebone Ai are used to give power to external devices. The description of the pins are as follows:-

  1. The first pin gives 3 Volts of voltage. The incoming power of this pin comes directly from the LDO or we can say that Low Dropout. This pin can be used for transmitting a maximum of 250mA current to the devices which are rated for this value of current.  In P9 – Pin 3 and Pin 4.
  1. The second power port of Beaglebone Ai provides 5 volts of output. The power of this pin comes directly from the DC Jack power supply pin. There will be no power in this pin if the Beaglebone Ai board is operated using a USB power pin. The current supply of this pin is limited to 1000mA hence it is used for devices which are rated for this value. In P9 – Pin 5 and Pin 6.
  1. The third power port of the Beaglebone Ai board utilizes a regulator. The power of this pin comes from both USB and DC power ports. The value of the voltage on this pin will be 5 volts but the value of current will depend on the power input of this pin. In P9 – Pin 7 and Pin 8.

Ground Pin 

To operate multiple devices a common ground is required and guess what Beaglebone Ai has multiple pins for this which are connected internally with each other and other peripherals. 

In P8:

DGND – Pin1, Pin2

In P9:

DGND – Pin 1, Pin 2, Pin43, Pin44, Pin45, Pin46

GPIO pins of Beaglebone AI 

There are a total of 69 Input/Output pins available on the Beaglebone Ai board however not all pins are dedicated for this purpose as some of them can also be used for other functions. These I/O pins of the Beaglebone Ai board contain 3.3 volts. For actual pin mapping check out BeagleBone Black Pinout.

Communication pins of Beaglebone AI

  1. I2C Pins

The Beaglebone Ai board contains 2 pairs of the I2C communication protocol. I2C stands for “Inter-Integrated Circuit.” It is a two-wire serial communication protocol. It uses two pins for communication purposes. One of them is used to send data while the other pin is used to receive data. 

The two pins of the I2C protocol are the “serial Clock Pin(SCL)” and “Serial Data Pin(SDA)”.

  • SCL – It is defined as the line or pin which transfers the clock data. SCL pin is used to synchronize the shift of data in between two devices. This signal is generated by the master device.

It is a clock line.

  • SDA – It is defined as the line or pin which is used by slave devices to send and receive data. It is a data line.

I2C pins on the board are as follows:

I2C1_SCL – Pin17

I2C1_SDA – Pin18

I2C2_SCL – Pin19

I2C2_SDA – Pin20

  1. SPI Pins

The Beaglebone AI board supports the “Semi-peripheral Communication Protocol” or SPI. The SPI protocol is used to develop communication between the controller device and its peripheral devices. Three pins are needed for SPI communication protocol which are:- 

  • MISO/D1 – It stands for Master Input/Slave Output. This data line sends data to the master device. 
  • MOSI/D0 – It stands for Master Output/Slave Input. This data line is used for sending data to slaves/peripheral devices.
  • SCK – This pin is used to synchronize the data transfer between the master and slave device.

SPI pins on the board are listed below:

SPI0_CS0 – Pin17

SPI0_D0 – Pin21

SPI0_D1 – Pin18

SPI0_SCLK – Pin22

SPI1_CS0 – Pin28

SPI1_D0 – Pin29

SPI1_D1 – Pin30

SPI1_SCLK – Pin31 

  1. UART Pin

The Beaglebone Ai consists of a UART communication protocol which is used for serial communication of data. It needs two pins for the communication purpose which are Rx and TX.

  • Rx – This pin is used to transmit the serial data.
  • TX – This pin is used to receive the serial data.

UART pins on the board are listed below:

In P8:

UART5_TX – Pin37

UART_RX – Pin38

In P9:

UART1_TX – Pin24

UART1_RX – Pin26

UART2_TX – Pin21

UART2_RX – Pin22

UART4_TX – Pin11

UART4_RX – Pin13

PWM Pins

The beaglebone AI board consists of 8 PWM(Pulse Width Modulation) pins in P8 and 6 PWM pins in P9. The work of these PWM pins is to generate the desired output square pulse to control any operable devices connected to the board.

MCASP Pin 

These pins are used for multi-channel serial applications. It uses a separate clock, frame sync, and data pin. The MCASP pins of the Beaglebone Ai board are in the P9 header.  

  1. MCASP0_FSX (Frame Sync) – Pin29
  2. MCASP0_ACLKX (Clock Sync) – Pin25
  3. MCASP0_AHCLKX (Data Out) – Pin31
  4. MCASP0_AXR2 (Data In) – Pin28

MMC support pin

MMC stands for “Multimedia Controller”. These pins allow the devices to boot from the built-in eMMC in place of an SD card. In BeagleBone Ai there is an embedded 2GB MMC available. The MMC pins are:

  1. MMC1_CMD – Pin20
  2. MMC1_CLK – Pin21
  3. MMC1_DAT0 – Pin25
  4. MMC1_DAT1 – Pin24
  5. MMC1_DAT2 – Pin5
  6. MMC1_DAT3 – Pin6
  7. MMC1_DAT4 – Pin23
  8. MMC1_DAT5 – Pin22
  9. MMC1_DAT6 – Pin3
  10. MMC1_DAT7 – Pin4

HDMI LCD Interface pins

These pins are used to drive the LCD by using the HDMI.

Analog to digital converter 

The analog-to-digital converter is used to convert analog signals to digital signals. Beaglebone Ai has a total of 7 analog to digital converting channels and all of them use a single 12-bit ADC channel but it needs to be activated first by giving it 1.8V of power through ADC power pins. 

That is all in the pin description of Beaglebone Ai. If you still have any doubt left then no need to worry as we have added some frequently asked questions below:

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1 – Can we run the Pytorch framework on Beaglebone AI?

Yes, we can run frameworks like Pytorch and TensorFlow on Beaglebone Ai.

Q2 – Can I use Beaglebone AI for AI projects and machine learning?

Yes, you can use Beaglebone for AI projects and machine learning as it is suitable for this due to its powerful processor and GPU.

Q3 – What is the difference between BeagleBone Black and BeagleBone AI?

Apart from the headers of BeagleBone Ai the RAM, processor, GPU, and storage of BeagleBone AI make it a more powerful and reliable SBC as compared to BeagleBone Black.

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