Automotive ASIC integrates AI to monitor the driver

Believed to be the world’s first dedicated driver monitoring ASIC, the OAX8000 has an integrated artificial intelligence (AI) neural processing unit, an image signal processor and a DDR3 memory.

The ASIC by OmniVision Technologies is optimised for entry level, standalone driver monitoring systems (DMS). The OAX8000 uses a stacked-die architecture, making it the industry’s only DMS processor with on-chip DDR3 SDRAM, claims the company. Memory capacity is 1Gbyte. It is also believed to be 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 to allow for eye gaze and eye tracking algorithms. There is also 1k multiply-accumulator MAC (units) of convolutional neural network (CNN) acceleration, which, with the integrated SDRAM, enable the low power consumption. Combined with the OmniVision automotive image sensor, it consumes just 1W in typical conditions. The level of integration also reduces the board area for the engine control unit (ECU), adds OmniVision Technologies.

From 2022, all new cars in the EU will be required to have a DMS camera.

“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,” said Brian Pluckebaum, automotive product marketing manager at OmniVision.   industry’s most optimized solution.”

The OAX8000’s on-chip NPU is supported by the TensorFlow, Caffe, MXNet and ONNX tool chains. The ASIC embeds quad Arm Cortex A5 CPU cores with Neon technology for accelerated video encoding/decoding and on-chip video analytics algorithms, as well as hardware for image processing, video encoding and RGB/IR processing. The high dynamic range (HDR) processing capability allows the ASIC to accept input from RBG/IR image sensors and to 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 5Mpixel captures from OmniVision’s automotive image sensors, and outputs up to 2k resolution video at 30 frames per second (fps).

Boot-up time for the OAX8000 is significantly faster than its nearest competitor, claims OmniVision. The rapid start up eliminates the delay between ignition and activation of the DMS camera and the ASIC also supports secure boot features for cybersecurity.

The ASIC can also be used in processing vehicle occupant detection algorithms, such as distinguishing a baby from a grocery bag, and providing alerts when objects are left behind in the vehicle. Other uses are in automotive video security systems to perform functions such as FaceID, as well as preset driver comfort settings (e.g. seat position) that are activated when the DMS scans the driver’s face.

Samples of the new OAX8000 ASIC are available now in a BGA196 package. It is AEC-Q100 Grade 2 certified for automotive applications.

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