Yet another RISC-V-based development board with GreenWaves Technologies’ powered chip has brought us the Perf-V Beetle board for AI edge computing. The board features its GAP8 IoT application processor, which is built around a multicore RISC-V AI MCU. Perf-V Beetle is a compact demo board targeted for use in applications involving image and audio processing. It comes with an exclusive camera and a display in the box, allowing quick deployments of AI-based projects.
A dive into the Perf-V Beetle board’s main highlights
The onboard GAP8 processor features a multicore RISC-V MCU and PULP(Parallel Ultra-Low Power Processing). There are eight RISC-V compute cores and one RISC-V fabric controller core. GAP8 processors can deliver up to 200 MOPS at 1mW and >8 GOPS at a few tens of mW. “GAP8 differs radically from the flurry of other AI-focused processors, which target either far more complex applications that can’t be battery-powered or much narrower application spaces. Instead, GAP8 is precisely positioned at the crossroads of the AI, IoT, and MCU worlds,” said Loïc Liétar, co-founder and CEO of GreenWaves Technologies. “The autonomous operation enabled by GAP8 dramatically reduces the deployment and operating costs of image, sound, and vibration sensing devices, enabling an unprecedented scale of adoption.”
Furthermore, there are four PDM microphones on the board itself, located at each of the four corners. This gives it an advantage over other boards for deploying image and audio processing-based projects. You won’t have to go through the trouble of interfacing external microphones. So, with multiple microphones, you can even build your own Alexa-enabled virtual voice assistant.
Specifications of Perf-V Beetle board
The Perf-V Beetle board comes with a form factor of 47×33 mm. It has 128 Mbit of flash memory and 64 Mbit system RAM. The onboard crystal oscillator provides a clock frequency of 32.768 Hz. There’s one SPI interface (for display screen), one CPI interface (for camera module), and one serial port (for wireless communication module). Likewise, there’s one 10-pin JTAG header for debugging and an 18-pin GPIO header. To power the board, provide a 5V or 3V input through a USB or battery interface. Additionally, the board also has a power LED, a red user LED, and a reset button.
As for software support, there’s no mention of it, but since it involves the GAP8 processor, it should work with the GAP8 SDK. This SDK comes with many code examples, which enables fast prototyping of projects.
In the rising world of AI Edge computing boards, there are several alternatives to the Perf-V Beetle board, like the ETA Compute’s ECM3532 board or the Arducam Pico4ML board. Thanks to the multicore RISC-V MCU-based GAP8 processor, the board has an elevated advantage over these boards. The Perf-V Beetle board consumes very little energy for the same processing compared to the other two boards, making it more suitable for battery-operated systems. This board also boosts a 4-microphone array that together can be used to track the direction of the source of the sound signal. Besides that, one more advantage is that the Perf-V Beetle board has a connector for the Wi-Fi module. Thus, it can be used for IoT-based applications as well, which is not available in the other two boards.
Pricing and availability
The Perf-V Beetle board comes with two bundle options- the Bundle-1 retails for $59, which includes the board itself, a camera, and a display. The Bundle-2 sells for $65, which will give you an additional Wi-Fi + Bluetooth module. Both of the bundles are available on AliExpress.
The purchase link is the source of images and technical specifications