SparkFun Edge Development Board - Apollo3 Blue

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Edge computing is here! You've probably heard of this latest entry to the long lineage of tech buzzwords like "IoT," "LoRa," and "cloud" before it, but what is the edge and why does it matter? The cloud is impressively powerful but all-the-time connection requires power and connectivity that may not be available. Edge computing handles discrete tasks such as determining if someone said 'start washer' and responds accordingly. The audio analysis is done at the edge rather than on the web. This dramatically reduces costs and complexity while limiting potential data privacy leaks.

In collaboration with Google and Ambiq, SparkFun's Edge Development Board is based around the newest edge technology and is perfect for getting your feet wet with voice and even gesture recognition without relying on the distant services of other companies. The magic sauce is in the utilization of Ambiq Micro's latest Apollo3 Blue microcontroller whose ultra efficient ARM Cortex-M4F 48MHz (with 96MHz burst mode) processor can run TensorFlow Lite using only 6uA/MHz. Apollo3 Blue sports all the cutting edge features expected of modern microcontrollers including six configurable I2C/SPI masters, two UARTs, one I2C/SPI slave, a 15-channel 14-bit ADC, and a dedicated Bluetooth processor that supports BLE5. On top of all that the Apollo3 Blue has 1MB of flash and 384KB of SRAM memory - plenty for the vast majority of applications.

On the Edge you'll have built-in access to sensors, Bluetooth, I2C expansion, and GPIO inputs/outputs. To support edge computing cases like voice recognition the Edge board features two MEMS microphones, an ST LIS2DH12 3-axis accelerometer on its own I2C bus, and a connector to interface to an OV7670 camera (sold separately). An onboard Bluetooth antenna gives the Edge out-of-the-box connectivity. Also available on the board is a Qwiic connector to add I2C sensors/devices, four LEDs, and four GPIO pins. To boast the low-power capabilities of the board we've outfitted it with battery operation from the CR2032 coin cell holder. Programming the board is taken care of with an external USB-serial adapter like the Serial Basic Breakout via a serial bootloader, but for more advanced users we've also made available the JTAG programming and debugger port.

As a brave explorer of this new technology you'll have to use some advanced concepts but don't worry. Between Ambiq Micro's Software Development Kit and our SDK Setup Guide you'll have access to plenty of examples to begin working with your hardware.

Now get out there and make something amazing with the latest machine learning technology at your very own fingertips!

Important: The SparkFun Edge Development Board is available for pre-order and final board appearance may change before the final release. We expect to have physical stock ready to ship by the end of March.

Microcontroller

  • 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4F processor with Direct Memory Access
  • 48MHz CPU clock, 96MHz with TurboSPOT™
  • Extremely low-power usage: 6uA/MHz
  • 1MB Flash
  • 384KB SRAM
  • Dedicated Bluetooth processor with BLE 5

Onboard

  • ST LIS2DH12 3-axis accelerometer
  • 2x MEMS microphones with operational amplifier
  • OV7670 camera connector
  • Qwiic connector
  • 4 x GPIO connections
  • 4 x user LEDs
  • 1 x user button
  • FTDI-style serial header for programming
  • Bluetooth antenna
  • CR2032 coin cell holder for battery operation

What It Does

  • High processing to current consumption ratio enables machine learning applications on the 'Edge' of networks, without the need for a central computer or web connection.
  • Voice, gesture, or image recognition possible with TensorFlow Lite. (Voice examples are provided with gesture and image examples hoped to be released soon)

General

  • 1.8V - 3.6V supply voltage range
  • Small 1.6in x 1.6in x 0.35in (40.6mm x 40.6mm x 8.9mm) form factor

SparkFun Edge Development Board - Apollo3 Blue Product Help and Resources

Core Skill: Programming

If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.

4 Programming

Skill Level: Experienced - You will require a firm understanding of programming, the programming toolchain, and may have to make decisions on programming software or language. You may need to decipher a proprietary or specialized communication protocol. A logic analyzer might be necessary.
See all skill levels


Core Skill: Electrical Prototyping

If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.

2 Electrical Prototyping

Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
See all skill levels


Customer Comments

  • Does the BLE transceiver have an FCC-ID? Is this a prequalified module or would I need to go through certification using this in my design?

  • Does this board have inbuilt WiFi or is there any provision to connect any external WiFi shield or module ?

  • Looks amazing! Do you stock a camera that would work with this ?

  • Some useful links:

    "TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers:" https://github.com/tensorflow/tensorflow/tree/master/tensorflow/lite/experimental/micro

    "Machine learning on a microcontroller with SparkFun TensorFlow:" https://codelabs.developers.google.com/codelabs/sparkfun-tensorflow/#0

    "Creating your own model:" https://github.com/tensorflow/tensorflow/tree/master/tensorflow/lite/experimental/micro/examples/micro_speech#creating-your-own-model

    A great research paper, "A one microwatt voice detector using analog feature extraction and a binary neural network:" https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=8310326&tag=1

  • Can you teach it the words to recognize or you have to use preset commands? If so, how many commands it can handle?

  • This looks cool, but I wish it exposed more than 4 GPIOs, especially since the underlying processor seems to have so many.

  • What kind of camera would work well with this?

  • The link to the SDK Setup Guide (https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/using-sparkfun-edge-board-with-ambiq-apollo3-sdk) doesn't work.

    • Correct, it isn't ready yet but it will be when we start shipping the Edge at the end of the month.

  • Amazing!

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