AI-enabled automotive ASIC for driver monitoring systems

January 04, 2021 //By Rich Pell
AI-enabled automotive ASIC for driver monitoring systems
Image sensor manufacturer OmniVision Technologies has announced what it claims is the world’s first dedicated driver monitoring system ASIC with an integrated AI neural processing unit, image signal processor and DDR3 memory.

The OAX8000 AI-enabled, automotive ASIC is optimized for entry-level, stand-alone driver monitoring systems (DMS). It uses a stacked-die architecture to provide a DMS processor with on-chip DDR3 SDRAM memory (1 GB). The OAX8000, says the company, is also the only dedicated DMS processor to integrate a neural processing unit (NPU) and image signal processor (ISP), which provides dedicated processing speeds up to 1.1 trillion operations per second for eye gaze and eye tracking algorithms.

These fast processing speeds with 1K MAC of convolutional neural network (CNN) acceleration, along with integrated SDRAM, are claimed to enable the lowest power consumption available for DMS systems — the OAX8000 and OmniVision automotive image sensor consume just 1 watt in typical conditions, combined. This integration also reduces the board area for the engine control unit (ECU).

"Most DMS processors on the market today are not dedicated to this application, requiring added circuitry to perform other system functions that consumes more power, occupies more board space and doesn't allow room for on-chip SDRAM," says Brian Pluckebaum, automotive product marketing manager at OmniVision. "By focusing the design of our OAX8000 ASIC on entry-level DMS, we were able to create the automotive industry’s most optimized solution."

The device's on-chip NPU is supported by TensorFlow, Caffe, MXNet and ONNX tool chains. In addition, the ASIC embeds quad Arm Cortex A5 CPU cores with Neon technology for accelerated video encoding/decoding and on-chip video analytics algorithms, along with hardware for image processing, video encoding and RGB/IR processing.

Its high dynamic range (HDR) processing capability allows the ASIC to accept input from RBG/IR image sensors and support high quality output, for videos taken during the day or at night, in conditions with widely contrasting bright and dark images. The integrated video encoder accepts up to 5 megapixel captures from the company's automotive image sensors, and outputs up to 2K resolution video at 30 frames per second (fps).

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