By Ronald Samonte

May 11, 2023

Nvidia Jetson Orin Nano Developer Kit now available

The influence and use of AI is rapidly advancing at a rate we have not expected. Just a few years ago the presence of AI technology is limited to industrial, automotive and commercial uses. Fast forward today and we have Chat GPT which is now the AI hype these days. Chat-GPT is revolutionary because it brings the power of AI directly into the masses. Want to write your resume in minutes or debug a program that is bugging you for so long? Yes, folks Chat GPT just became the solution to many of our problems by providing logical answers to our most complex questions? In my experience of using Chat-GPT it does not always provide the most precise answer but are quite logical and practical. What people don't know is the brain of the graphical processing unit (GPU) that powers Chat GPT is made by Nvidia. Gamers know Nvidia for their product line of very powerful graphic cards for the PC market. In fact, Nvidia had dominated the PC graphic card market for quite a long time. Even crypto miners have been using graphic cards for mining and this led to some shortage some 2 years ago.

Perhaps the HW that Chat GPT uses would be so expensive that ordinary electronics enthusiast would only dream of getting. Nvidia thru out the years have been raising the bar on AI technology and as well as releasing products for embedded applications and edge computing. One of the popular products Nvidia release was the Jetson Nano. The Nano was kind of a rival for the enthusiast popular Raspberry PI. In terms of processing power, the Nano has the advantage over the RPI due to integration of powerful GPU's. If you're an electronic/programmer enthusiast working on robotics, drones, computer vision etc. the Jetson Nano is popular choice due to a combination of affordable price and powerful hardware. The affordable price tag means that more independent developers or enthusiast can afford one and begin their journey on AI.

Nvidia has recently released the Jetson Orin Nano Developer Kit. The Orin Nano is 40X to 80X more powerful than the Jetson Nano depending on the memory configuration. The Orin Nano w/ 8GB is rated at 40 Tera Operations per Second (TOPS). It's also using Nvidia Ampere GPU architecture which is significantly more powerful than Maxwell. Consequently, the power requirement is much higher rated at 5W up to 15W MAX.

Tabulated comparison - Jetson Nano vs Jetson Orin Nano

GPU intensive applications are normally memory hogs so the more RAM available the better is the performance. Looking at the table comparison, the Jetson Orin Nano 8GB has double the bus width @ 128 bit and 68 GB/s clock speed. The Orin Nano has higher bandwidth thus increasing memory speed which should optimize execution of heavy applications such as object detection and object recognition. The integration of this AI modules into IOT systems, robotics, drones, vision systems and autonomous vehicles means these devices could now leverage machine learning. Vision systems that leverage machine learning have enhanced image recognition and detection at higher frame rate and resolution which is not an easy feat since it takes quite a lot of processing power.

Jetson Orin Nano Developer Kit retails at $499 - $510 for the 8GB version. For US buyers it's available at this link Amazon at $499. It could also be pre-ordered from Nvidia authorized distributors. For me I usually buy from China to save on import tax. If you have to buy from China WaveShare(link) is a trusted vendor for Jetson and RPI modules. BTW the Jetson Orin is also offered in other variants with more powerful specs and higher price tag. Of the ORIN variants the Nano version I think would be the right balance of price and performance for the enthusiast and independent developers.

Image courtesy of Nvidia.