NVIDIA Jetson TX2 Development Kit

Today NVIDIA began shipping a new product, the Jetson TX2 Development Kit. Looky here:

Jetson TX2 Overview

The Jetson TX2 is a new iteration of the Jetson Development Kit which doubles the computing power and power efficiency of the earlier Jetson TX1.

The Jetson TX1 Dev Kit introduced a new module format, where a standardized Tegra Module is plugged into a carrier board. While the Jetson TX2 uses the same carrier board as the Jetson TX1, the actual Tegra TX2 Module itself is all new.

Hardware

The Jetson TX2 features a NVIDIA Pascal GPU with 256 CUDA capable cores. The CPU complex consists of two ARM v8 64 bit CPU clusters which are connected by a high-performance coherent interconnect fabric. The Denver 2 (Dual-Core) CPU cluster is optimized for higher single-thread performance; the second CPU cluster is an ARM Cortex-A57 QuadCore which is better suited for multi-threaded applications.

The memory subsystem incorporates a 128-bit memory controller, which provides high bandwidth LPDDR4 support. 8 GB LPDDR4 Main Memory and 32 GB eMMC Flash memory are integrated on the Module. Going to a 128-bit design from the TX1 64-bit is a major performance enhancement.

The Module also supports hardware video encoders and decoders which support 4K ultra-high-definition video at 60 fps in several different formats. This is slightly different than the hybrid Jetson TX1 module, which used both dedicated hardware and software which was running on the Tegra SoC for those tasks. Also included is an Audio Processing Engine with full hardware support for multi-channel audio.

The Jetson TX2 supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Wi-fi is much improved over the earlier Jetson TX1. Gigabit Ethernet BASE-T is included. Here’s a comparison between the TX1 and the TX2.

Jetson TX2 vs TX1
Jetson TX2 vs Jetson TX1

The carrier board, which is common between both the Jetson TX2 and the Jetson TX1, has the following I/O connectors:

  • USB 3.0 Type A
  • USB 2.0 Micro AB (supports recovery and host mode)
  • HDMI
  • M.2 Key E
  • PCI-E x4
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Full size SD card reader
  • SATA data+power
  • Display expansion header
  • Camera expansion header

There are two expansion headers, a 40 pin, 2.54mm spaced header with signals laid out similarly to the Raspberry Pi, and a 30 pin, 2.54mm spaced header for extra GPIO.

The Jetson also includes a 5MP camera in the camera expansion header, and a display expansion header for adding extra display panels.

The Jetson TX2 has added a CAN bus controller to the module. CAN is a network format that is frequently used in automobiles and other vehicles. The CAN bus signals are available directly on the GPIO Expansion Header.

Sippy or Speedy

This new generation brings a configurable amount of performance increase depending on power consumption requirements. NVIDIA has engineered two modes. Max-Q is the name of the energy efficiency mode which clocks the Parker SoC for efficiency over performance and draws about 7.5W, right before the bend in the power/performance curve. The result of this mode is that the TX2 has similar performance to a TX1 in max performance mode, while drawing about half the power!

In Max-P mode, the TX2 just flat out goes for it in the power budget of 15W. This provides about twice the performance of the Jetson TX1 at its maximum clock rate.

Jetson TX2 Dual Operating Modes
Jetson TX2 Dual Operating Modes

Software

There are several changes to the Jetson TX2 software stack. The Jetson TX2 runs a Developer Preview of an Ubuntu 16.04 variant named L4T 27.1. The Linux Kernel is 4.4, a newer version than the earlier Jetson TX1 version 3.10. There have been changes to the boot flow, with additional firmware managers added to the mix. The Jetson TX2 comes with a long list of software libraries, and a good selection of samples with source code.

The new JetPack 3.0 installer is available to flash and copy system software to the Jetson TX2.

Initial Impressions

NVIDIA claims that the Jetson TX2 is twice as fast as the Jetson TX1. After booting the machine, this surely seems the case. The entire experience feels very much like a desktop/laptop level machine. Doubling the memory (and the memory bus speed) surely helps with that feeling. Previous Jetsons experience quite a bit of memory pressure when running memory intensive, desktop applications like web browsers. The TX2 doesn’t even notice.

Running a handful of compiles and tests on applications like Caffe proved that the Jetson TX2 is indeed quite a bit faster than the earlier Jetson TX1 (see the video for one of the tests).

One of the fun samples that comes with the Jetson TX2 is an object recognition example which is demonstrated in the video. The deep learning sample uses Caffe along with ImageNet and uses the onboard camera to grab imagery.

Note that we haven’t performed any performance tuning for the demos, this is how it runs fresh out the box!

If you want some hardcore numbers, go over to Phoronix and check out NVIDIA Jetson TX2 Linux Benchmarks

Conclusion

Stay tuned as we begin working with the TX2 to better understand how to take advantage of the extra performance. Find out more on the NVIDIA Developers site.

Pictures, Natch!

Jetson
Jetson TX2
Jetson Module
Jetson TX2 Module – Courtesy of NVIDIA
Jetson
Jetson TX2
Jetson
Jetson TX2
Jetson
Jetson TX2
Jetson Camera
Jetson TX2 Camera
NVIDIA Jetson TX2 Development Kit
NVIDIA Jetson TX2 Development Kit – Courtesy of NVIDIA

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