NVIDIA Jetson TX1 Module Connector

I received an email asking what the Jetson TX1 Module Connector that links the module to the carrier board looks like. Looky here:

TX1 Module

The Jetson TX1 Development Kit has a module/carrier board architecture. The TX1 Module is a credit card sized 1 TFLOP capable computer with heat sinks attached. The Jetson Carrier Board is approximately 6 3/4″ on each side, and can fit in a mini-ITX case. The TX1 Module is attached to the carrier board by a 400 pin Samtec connector. Naturally, we all want to see what the connector looks like.

The connector on the Carrier board is a Samtec QSH-060-01-H-D-A. Note: This was reported in the Jetson forum to be linked to part number SEAM-50-02.0-S-08-2-A-K-TR. The mating connector is a Samtec QTH-060-01-H-D-A.

The idea behind the Module is that designers can take only the signals that they need from the Module and build a custom Carrier board with only the I/O signals that they need. Consequently, if there are a small number of connectors needed on the board, the custom Carrier board doesn’t have to be much larger than the actual TX1 Module itself.

Magic Smoke

On my first job out of college at a computer manufacturer, the Electrical Engineers taught me a valuable lesson about what is called ‘magic smoke’. It turns out that computer chips and other electronic devices have magic smoke in them. If this magic smoke escapes (e.g. the pins short, overheating occurs and the chip starts smoking, the polarity of the current input is reversed, and a myriad of other accidents) then the chip is useless. It takes surprisingly little to make this happen, and I was told that sometimes the magic smoke can leave without even being detected by the naked eye!

The reason that I’m sharing this with you is that the Jetson TX1 Module has a magic smoke scenario that could happen if you start playing with it.

The Jetson TX1 Module has two aluminum plates that sandwich the actual TX1 circuit board. These are called a Thermal Transfer Plate (or TTP) The plates should not be detached from the board itself. This is because the actual process to attach the plates is a one time process. This is not like where heat sinks can be removed and replaced with some thermal paste. Reiterating, DO NOT REMOVE THE PLATES AROUND THE TX1 CIRCUIT BOARD, or else the magic smoke will get out.

Thermal Cooling Stack

On the Jetson TX1, the module has several different metal pieces attached to the circuit board. These are layered. The first metal ‘sandwich’ around the circuit board itself is the Thermal Transfer Plates. The thermal transfer plates provide purchase for designers to mount different cooling solutions to the module based on need. For the Jetson TK1, the designers selected a large finned aluminum heat sink with a small auxiliary fan attached. In most use cases, the passive finned heat sink is enough to keep the module within operating temperatures, but the active cooling of the fan is available when just a little more is needed.

This gives the designer the flexibility of being able to design the heat sink according to their needs. For example, on a UAV where there is plenty of airflow, a lightweight passive design may be best, while in a data center application an active cooling system may be a better solution. The Jetson TX1 provides this design flexibility.


Another question that came in was what type of camera sensor is being used on the Camera Module board. The sensor is a 5 megapixel, fixed focus Omnivision OV5693 which communicates over CSI. We’ll have some entries about the camera when we start doing vision processing articles.

Some Pictures

Here’s some pictures of the Module and Carrier Board with the Module and Camera Module removed.

Jetson TX1 Carrier Board, Module and Camera Removed

Jetson TX1 Carrier Board, TX1 Module detached
Jetson TX1 Carrier Board, TX1 Module and Camera removed
Jetson TX1 Carrier Board, TX1 Module and Camera removed
Jetson TX1 Carrier Board, TX1 Module and Camera removed
Jetson TX1 Module carrier board, Samtec 400 pin connector
Jetson TX1 Carrier Board, TX1 Module and Camera removed

Jetson TX1 Carrier Board Detached

Underside of Jetson TX1 Module, Samtec 400 pin connector
Jetson TX1 Module Side
Jetson TX1 Module Top


We have seen the underbelly of the beast!