Asus and Google have joined together to develop AI-focused, credit-card-sized computers known as 'Tinker Board' single board computers.
The size credentials refer to footprint, as the mini-PCs are considerably thicker than a credit card for obvious reasons. They are primarily aimed at users looking to build tiny systems that can work on AI inference applications like image recognition. We've got a sneaky feeling that it's the kind of tech that could take off in the future, though, not unlike Raspberry Pis.
Currently known as the Tinker Edge T and Tinker Edge R, the former is the lower spec variety based on the NXP i.MX8M with an Edge TPU chip that accelerates TensorFlow Lite, while the Tinker Edge R is powered by the Rockchip RK3399 Pro processor with an NPU for 4K machine learning (because seemingly everything is focused on that delightful set of buzzwords at the moment).
The Tinker Edge T includes 1GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 8GB of eMMC flash memory, with the Tinker Edge R offering a beefier 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 16GB of eMMC flash storage along with a microSD card reader.
Both systems offer some similarities with active cooling along with typical connections including Ethernet, a USB-C port, two USB 3.0 ports, and HDMI connectivity.
While Asus has pivoted them specifically for edge AI applications that need to be small yet very energy efficient, we can't see why these won't be picked up by enthusiasts keen to tinker too.
The two units officially support Android and Debian operating systems, although there's no reason from why they're not capable of running other Linux distributions or OSes.
In the past, Asus has developed similar Tinker Boards, but they've typically been larger in size and more akin to a Raspberry Pi. This looks like it's going one step further with making things even tinier, although the active cooling might put off some looking for an entirely silent solution, even if Asus reckons it's going to be very quiet.
For now, we'll have to wait with bated breath for Asus to demonstrate the Tinker Edge T and Tinker Edge R. It'll be doing just that at the IoT Technology 2019 conference in Japan, which begins next week on November 20th.
January 24 2020 | 12:00