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Ambarella Expands Vision to ADAS

May 21, 2019

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

Driverless vehicles seem irresistible to chip vendors hungry for emerging markets that established players don’t yet rule. One new contender is Ambarella, a Silicon Valley–based company with long experience in vision processing. Its SoCs have appeared in security cameras, GoPro action cameras, DJI drones, dash cams, electronic mirrors, and other vision products. In 2015, it acquired an Italian company with additional machine-vision expertise plus autonomous-driving technology. Given this background, it’s no wonder Ambarella is sampling its first vision processors for advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS).

The CV2AQ is the flagship of the new CV2-series. It integrates four Arm Cortex-A53 CPUs for application software, a deep-learning accelerator for vision processing (CVflow), a stereo-vision coprocessor, an image signal processor (ISP), video I/O, audio I/O, and various other interfaces and peripherals. It can accept video streams from up to eight cameras at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second (fps). The image pipeline can analyze only 576 megapixels per second, however, limiting the current design to a maximum of eight cameras at 1080p resolution and 30fps.

Ambarella designed the CV2AQ for semiautonomous driving at ADAS Level 2 or 3. (Fully autonomous driving is Level 4 or 5.) It’s undergoing revisions to qualify for Automotive Safety Integrity Level B (ASIL B). The current design meets Automotive Electronics Council (AEC) Q100 requirements, but that specification describes environmental stress tests for measuring device failures, not functional safety.

To gain a foothold in the highly competitive automotive market, the CV2AQ offers more features than similar SoCs and employs 10nm FinFET technology to reduce typical power consumption to about 4.0W. The company is also sampling two lower-cost derivatives (the CV22 and CV25) for its traditional vision markets, plus two automotive-qualified models (the CV22AQ and CV25AQ) for non-ADAS products, such as dash cams. The derivatives typically consume about 2.5W.

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